India declared independence on August 15, 1947, ending nearly 200 years of British rule. It is a day to commemorate the tremendous sacrifices made by thousands of men and women in the struggle for our country’s freedom. Kalighat paintings were prominent throughout the British Raj. During this time, the Swadeshi movement embraced their native culture as a weapon to suppress British rule and promote the concept of independence to the people.

Kalighat paintings in India highlighted the moments of nationalism through different art styles. Among them is the representation of maintaining one’s cultural identity through, sarcasm and irony of an imagined national upper class as opposed to engaging in a conversation with the British by embracing their lifestyle. Rooftop will explore many themes and tones of patriotism in Kalighat paintings, as well as, how several artists interpreted these events in their paintings.

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The Symbolism Of Kalighat Paintings On Independence Day

Did you know, artists who lived on the outskirts of Calcutta established Kalighat Painting? Around the year 1830, This painting’s evolution was influenced by the artists’ migration to Kalighat, which resulted in a distinctive development in their artwork. We were curious to know what the major themes of Kalighat paintings were, and we found out that, it’s centred around religious figures and scenes from sacred scriptures, ranging from the deities like Lakshmi and Durga, and characters from the Hindu epic Ramayana, etc. However, after becoming politically established in India, the British started to express an interest in music, literature, and the arts. They created institutions where Indian artists would receive academic training in the European style.

Image source: Flickr

The Calcutta School of Art was one such institution, attracting traditional artists known as ‘Patuas’ to the city.  Initially, these painters gathered around the Kalighat temple when there was a need for devotional work. They gradually began to learn different marketing tactics that could help them increase their earnings. Kalighat painting was developed as a result of their experiments with creative art forms. Representation Of Kalighat Paintings

Significance of Kalighat painting

The Oriental School and the Occidental School are the two schools of Kalighat paintings. The paintings from the Oriental School of Kalighat portrayed religious characters, primarily goddesses Durga and Laxmi, scenes from sacred texts, and representations of Ram and Sita from the epic of Ramayana. The Occidental School of Kalighat paintings focused on depicting everyday life, changes happening in Kolkata, social evils, crimes, patriotic themes, and illustrations of freedom fighters like Rani Laxmibai and Tipu Sultan.

Image source: Flickr

Paintings from Kalighat were commonly the result of cooperative efforts by artists, usually from the same family. Some of the members would crush materials to create homemade colours, while others sketched the outline of the figures or fill in the colours, and added the finishing touches in the form of motifs and backdrop decorations.

Artists Using Kalighat Paintings

Image source: Flickr

Jamini Roy

Post-modern Indian artist, Jamini Roy was influenced by the Kalighat painting. In the year 1954, Roy received the Padma Bhushan award from the Government of India. Roy is still regarded as one of the most noteworthy students of Abanindranath Tagore, another well-known Indian artist and educator.

Kalam Patua

Kalam Patua is a modern practitioner of Kalighat painting. He was a member of the Patua group of scroll painters and storytellers, he later taught himself the Kalighat style which deals with Indian miniature painting and West Bengal scroll painting traditions.

Gautam Mukerjee

Gautam Mukherjee grew up in Kolkata. Since childhood, he assisted in painting and decorating the annual Durga Pooja pandals in his community. The Kalighat Patachitra captivated him. His ancestral house and family values have profoundly influenced him, which is frequently represented in his works.

As you can see, Indian art has a lengthy history and has survived our country’s challenges. Kalighat was one style of art that depicted these difficulties.

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