Imagine this. We’re in the future and you’re flipping through the pages of a book on lost Indian arts. Imagine the lively figures of Warli paintings, the intricate patterns of Madhubani or the vibrant pointillism of Gond and many other authentic Indian art forms existing only as information on the pages of an encyclopedia. Imagine losing generations’ worth of Indian art because learning them was not made accessible to the common art lover. Or because these Indian arts weren’t considered valuable enough to be preserved.
Sounds quite gloomy, right? Now Imagine this.
An app bringing all these Indian arts under one roof made available at your fingertips. You guessed it! That’s what Rooftop is all about! The aim of Rooftop was and is – to preserve and promote Indian art, making it accessible and affordable for all.
How did Authentic Indian Arts Lose their Value?
Before we learn how Rooftop is fulfilling its aim of preserving Indian arts, we must understand why there was a need to bring back value to Indian arts in the first place; or in other words, how did authentic Indian arts lose their value?
Industrialisation and Commercialization of Art Forms
Prior to the advent of industrialization in the 19th century, Indian artisans enjoyed generous rewards for their work and were highly sought after. Following independence, the Indian government and dedicated NGOs implemented various initiatives to protect the handicraft sector. However, the artisans had already started experiencing the challenges of poverty and disrepute. Today, the increasing dominance of machine-made textiles and the rapid commercialization of art pose a significant threat to authentic Indian art, pushing it towards the brink of extinction.
Artists Shifting to Other Forms of Income
The arts industry stands as the second largest source of employment in rural India, following the agriculture sector. The continuing transgenerational practice of the Indian art forms is what gives them their value. However, the combination of rapid urbanization, inflation, and the commercialization of arts has caused a decrease in sales of authentic Indian arts. This decline has led to a reduction in production and fewer artisans seeking employment within the arts industry, with many artisans transitioning to alternative livelihoods like daily wage labour or farming. Since a majority of Indian artists pass down their art through the oral tradition, this shift poses a significant risk as it hampers the transmission of artistic knowledge and skills to the next generation.
Lack of Platform or Exposure for Authentic Indian Arts
While everyone can quickly identify the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh as the creator of the painting “Starry Night,” how many of us are aware of Indian art forms like Manjusha paintings or Santhal paintings that face the risk of extinction?
We are often only exposed to these art forms when we go travelling and view them in tourist places and museums. This is because very few artists have access to a platform where they can continually share their art and skills and gain the praise and compensation they deserve. The lack of exposure affecting authentic Indian art and artisans results in a lack of awareness among the general public. Consequently, these art forms begin to lose their value, and without intervention, many of them will cease to exist in the near future.
How Rooftop is Bringing Back Value to Authentic Indian Arts
It feels outright bizarre (and quite dystopian, really) to think that one day we might not really be able to refer to India as having a rich cultural and artistic heritage, doesn’t it? Well, read on to know what we at Rooftop are doing to ensure that India never sees such a day where its massive art heritage loses its value.
Workshops and Courses to Learn Indian Art Forms
One of the biggest challenges for Indian art forms is making their learning accessible to art lovers across the country and worldwide. The Rooftop app, with its network of 2000+ passionate creators and award-winning artists, makes art available at your disposal.
Wish to have a quick dip into the world of Gond, Phad or Warli art? We have a number of workshops to choose from. Want to learn about Indian art but tired of virtual meetings? Be our guest at our offline workshops! And if the pandemic has made you treasure your own company, fear not, our online workshops (four times a day!!) are always there for you!
If you’re someone who’s all about that base and looking for in-depth learning, Rooftop offers a variety of courses where you can dive deep into the details. Our Maestro Courses are taught by award-winning maestros in different languages. And they offer holistic learning of art forms like Gond, Bhil, Phad, Pichwai, Mata ni Pachedi, Fresco, Warli, Cheriyal, and Madhubani (with many others coming soon!)
Interaction Fueling Inspiration
The Rooftop app’s “Inspire Me” feature is a great way for artists to share their experiences and creative processes so that art lovers can understand the meanings behind different art forms.
Within this section, you have the opportunity to explore captivating artworks crafted by India’s finest artists. Additionally, you can delve into their voice notes, which reveal the concealed narratives behind each masterpiece.
This communication aids artists to understand what aspect of their artwork is appealing to the viewer. It also helps art lovers foster an appreciation for the art and establishes a meaningful connection between the artist and art enthusiast.
Building an Art Community
When was the last time you went running to show your art to people around you? We bet that was long long ago. Didn’t we all as children yearn for a star drawn with a red pen in the margins of our artworks in schools? Why, we would still long for it now!
And that is exactly why Rooftop app’s “Community” feature exists. Re-live the nostalgia of your childhood by sharing your artwork with other art lovers and join in a creative conversation with like-minded individuals! This is a place where you can get feedback on your own artwork along with sharing your own thoughts with other people. Imagine finding your own art tribe while learning and creating art during workshops!
A Wikipedia for Authentic Indian Art
The “ArtWiki” feature on the Rooftop app is your go-to for genuine and unique information on a plethora of authentic Indian arts. Here you will find in-depth information that covers everything from the origin, techniques, styles, process, and central motifs to the notable artists and relevance of an art form. Believe us when will tell you, it is quite literally an encyclopedia in your pocket!
Rooftop’s blog section is the perfect place to stay up to date with the latest trends and tales from the traditional Indian art world. Consider the blog section to be your map that will help you navigate through the vibrant world of the Indian art scene.
Want to be up-to-date with the latest art happenings? Wondering how you can convince your parents to let you get a tattoo? (Well, we don’t yet offer self-help services, but reading our blog on Indian art and Tattoos might help!) What we essentially mean is, Rooftop’s blog section is where you ought to head to read about, well, everything art!
Collaborating to Share Authentic Indian Art
Rooftop understands that it is crucial to increase exposure to authentic Indian arts and grow awareness about them in order to bring back their value. Thus, we collaborated with government organisations, cultural institutes including schools and colleges along with MNCs for employee engagement workshops, all of which are aimed at giving Indian art forms and artists the recognition they deserve.
Phad se Padh was one such collaboration with the MSMS II Museum in Rajasthan concentrating on the celebration, promotion, and learning of Indian arts and culture, aligning with the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Under this project, Rooftop teamed with 20 schools from Jaipur and Delhi, to impart knowledge about visual learning through Indian arts. Students learned the Phad art form and made Phad paintings which were based on subjects they learnt in school. Imagine viewing 15 to 20 feet long Phad paintings of topics like the History of India or the Union Budget! Fascinating, isn’t it? (Wish the Rooftop app existed when we were still students!)
Rooftop also signed an MOU with CCRT in January 2023 and this partnership opened numerous avenues to work collaboratively on advancing our nation’s cultural ethos. A part of this included inviting various schools to perform at the CCRT auditorium in Dwarka to showcase the rich cultural heritage of our country.
Despite the perception that authentic Indian art is losing its grip and that the 21st century has ushered in the loss of artistic authenticity, dedicated endeavours by art enthusiasts are combatting this perception and have proven otherwise. Although there is still a lot of progress to be made, Rooftop’s vision and mission signal the coming of a renaissance of the Indian art forms, transforming it into a thriving sector on a global scale. Are you ready to bring back value to Indian art and join the revolution?
Discover us on Instagram @rooftop_app for all things on traditional Indian art.