From writing and art revolving around religious topics to abstract, explorative work, Indian artists have covered a wide arena. Read on to find out how many of them you know.
The spectra of art in India is as extensive as the history of this great nation. In fact, India is known for being home to a large number of exceptionally brilliant artists. Unfortunately, their names were never popularized earlier. Yet, they are responsible for a firm foundation on which Indian art stands with pride today. Creative, imaginative and artistic, these artists took the world by storm with their magnificent work. This blog is dedicated to these greats.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Rabindranath Tagore popularly known as ‘Gurudev’ — was one of India’s most cherished renaissance figures. He made India proud with a Nobel Prize for Literature way back in 1913.
In a path that is quite unusual, Tagore began painting when he was in his sixties. In fact, he himself called his art an “affair in the old age.” He produced thousands of works and was the first Indian artist to exhibit his works across Europe, Russia and the United States in 1930. His painting style was unique, characterized by simple bold forms and rhythmic quality, his artwork later served to inspire many modern Indian artists.
Jamini Roy (1887 -1972)
Jamini Roy is an iconic Indian artist. Most of his paintings were based on the everyday life of rural Bengal. Walk into an average middle-class art-loving household of West Bengal, and chances are that you might come across a well-preserved portrait of Jamini Roy.
Roy’s work was unique. His brush strokes were largely bold and sweeping. Around mid-1930, he shifted away from the conventional practice of painting on canvas and started painting on materials like mats, cloth, wood coated with lime, etc. He also began experimenting with natural colours and pigments derived from chalk powder, mud, and flowers, etc. This artist garnered great success throughout his career and was honored with the Padma Bhushan award from the Government of India in 1954.
Raja Ravi Varma (1848 – 1906)
Raja Ravi Varma was one of India’s most eminent artists. His amazing paintings revolve mainly around the great Indian epics - Mahabharata and Ramayana and the Puranas (ancient mythological stories). He is one of the few painters who managed to accomplish a beautiful union of Indian tradition with the techniques of European art.
Raja Ravi Varma was the first to make prints (or lithographs) of his artworks affordable and easily available to the masses. He won the Governor’s Gold Medal in 1873 for the painting ‘Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair’. From there onwards he went on to paint for several royal families in India. Even colonial and royal visitors from England preferred Raja Ravi for different kinds of paintings.
S. H. Raza (1922 –2016)
Sayed Haider Raza was one of the most prominent and groundbreaking Indian painters of his generation. His paintings revolved mainly around nature and its various facets. Over the years, his paintings evolved from being purely expressionist landscapes to abstract ones. He believed that Bindu (dot) to be the center of creation and existence and his work reflected this particular thinking.
S. H. Raza has been awarded the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India, for his invaluable contribution to Indian art. He was also awarded the highest French civilian honor, the ‘Legion of Honour’ in July 2015.
MF. Husain (1915 –2011)
Maqbool Fida Husain better known as M. F. Husain was one of the most celebrated and internationally recognized Indian artists of the 20th century. He was known for executing bold, vibrantly coloured narrative paintings in a modified Cubist style.
The ‘Picasso of India, Husain created work that could be caustic and funny as well as serious and somber. His themes—usually treated in series—included topics as diverse as Mother Teresa, Mohandas K. Gandhi, the British Raj, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and motifs of Indian urban and rural life. Talented and expressive, Husain was honored with Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.
Ram Kumar (1924 - 2018)
Ram Kumar has been described as one of India's foremost abstract painter. Kumar’s early paintings were figurative. He portrayed the metropolitan middle-class man incarcerated in the confines of his urban environment. However, later his figurative art was replaced by abstract art for which he became well known. Ram Kumar painted abstract landscapes, usually in oil or acrylic. He was also associated with the Progressive Artist's Group.
A contemporary artist with a great vision, Ram Kumar was honored with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
Tyeb Mehta (1925 – 2009)
Tyeb Mehta, one of India’s most renowned modernist painters, is noted for his powerful use of traditional Indian themes and bold expressionistic style and colours. His work is characterized by matte surfaces, diagonal lines breaking his canvases, and images of anguish – a result of his preoccupation with formalist means of expression.
In his lifetime he was awarded the Prix Nationale in Cagne-sur-Mer, in 1974, and received the Kalidas Samman from the Madhya Pradesh State Government in 1988. He was also awarded a Gold Medal by the President of India on the occasion of Lalit Kala Akademie Golden Jubilee Celebration in 2004.
It takes time, effort and exceptional talent to make a name for oneself in the art world. All the above artists have made India proud with their hard work and sheer talent. From being showcased at galleries around the world to receiving great awards, these artists will continue inspiring generations in India and beyond for decades to come.