The nation is geared to celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence. As we glance over the glorious past, Indian art played an immense role in the freedom struggle and in developing a national identity. Look for yourself at the lives of five Indian artists and their contributions to great Independence and Indian art.
This nation has given us many jewels in this field whose piece of art has wowed the world. Despite all these achievements, art remained on the back foot as a career option post-independence.
But as we celebrate 75 years of Independence, we can proudly say that the mindset of the people is changing, as modern technology has interfered to bring this dying occupation to the front foot.
The evolution of art is so evident that it has not just remained till schools conduct independence day painting competitions; we now have national and international level exhibitions and fairs. We are in the era of contemporary art forms and NFTs.
Rabindranath Tagore is known for his poetry and is a Nobel Laureate. But how many of us know that he was a prolific artist too? His career as a painter began late in life when he was in his sixties.
Tagore’s art has a strong sense of fantasy and individualism, distinguished by bold forms and rhythmic lines. He painted images ranging from fictional beasts to mysterious human faces, masks and mystical landscapes.
His works were exhibited throughout Europe, Russia, and the United States during the 1930s. The National Gallery of Modern Art in India houses 102 of his art pieces.
He was the nephew of the Nobel Laureate R N Tagore and was associated with the Bengal School of Arts. Tagore modernised Mughal art, incorporated Indian elements and promoted his art as Indian oriental art.
He created masterpieces like Bharat Mata in 1906, a humanised depiction of the nation. And since then, Bharat Mata was introduced to the lexicon through this painting and became a rallying cry for freedom fighters. He depicted Independence and Indian art so vividly.
His painting played an important role as he transmuted a feeling of patriotism amongst the people to fight for their mother nation. Even today, we can find his drawn Bharat Mata garlanded in several schools and organisations during independence day.
Nandalal Bose was one of the students of Abanindranath Tagore who was highly inspired by his teacher’s work. Known to be the father of Modern Indian Art, Bose amalgamated the richness of Indian culture and patriotic sentiments in his art style.
This pioneer of modern Indian art created a monochrome portrait of Mahatma Gandhi walking with a stick. The image became the icon for the Non-Violent movement.
Another painting, Tiller of the Soil, depicts an Indian farmer tilling his field in a traditional farming method. Bose has created many such unique art pieces that became an inspiration to Modern Art. The National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, houses many of Bose’s artwork.
Sher-Gil was first recognised for painting Young Girls when she was 19. Her work brought her a gold medal and an Associateship at the Grand Salon in Paris. It was the first time an Asian had received this recognition, and she was the youngest member ever.
Compared to other artists’ portrayals of ‘Mother India,’ Amrita Sher-Gil’s depiction stands out. Sher-Gil portrays ‘Mother India’ as an impoverished woman holding a son and a daughter in her arms. Her depiction is grounded in reality and the current condition of the country. In her paintings of Mother India, Sher-Gil avoided mythification and excessive splendour.
Zainul Abedin is perhaps the most influential among the most important figures in Bangladeshi art history. While Bangladesh was decades away from creation, Abedin produced sketches of the horrific conditions during the Bengal famine of 1943, in which more than two million people died.
Seeing the famine first-hand resulted in his sketches capturing the horrors that people encountered during this famine resulting from British policies in India.
All the above-enlisted artists contributed immeasurably to Indian heritage to which crores of Indians will remain indebted. Being proud Indians, we must take the Independence and Indian art from the canvas of a student’s independence day painting to every Indian’s heart and promote them overseas.