from The Artes Magazine
In the preceding eighteenth and nineteenth century, there emerged the Company School of Painting, a genre when Indian artists focused on capturing the exotic for their British patrons, using water colour and oils, instead of traditional mineral and vegetable colours, in an amalgam of western academic realism and perspective, with a touch of the stylization of Indian miniature traditions.
The history of the modern Indian art movement is generally seen to begin in the 20th century with the emergence of Santiniketan and Bengal art led by Rabindranath (1861-1941) and Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) and Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), amongst others. Two other significant painters of the period are Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) and Amrita Shergil (1913-1941). The two, though different in their personal and creative thrust—Ravi Varma from the South and Shergil from the North—the former’s work was often categorized as decorative calendar and portraiture art, rooted in Indian mythology and folk forms, while the latter’s was more-realistic work, focused on day to day life of simple people that she encountered in her father’s palatial home in a village. Yet, each adopted influences of British oil painting practice in their own particular way.
These artists were amongst the pioneers who reflected the merging of ‘modernity’ with ‘nationality’ in Indian art. This trend occurred against a backdrop of art schools set up by the British at Madras, Calcutta, Lucknow and Bombay that were modeled on western academic canons, widely perceived to run against the grain of India’s eternal cultural traditions. They did, however, help train a whole generation of Indian artists.
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