One of the most important methods for creating murals in the history of art is the fresco. Despite being most frequently linked to Italian Renaissance art, the painting style has been used for thousands of years and has influenced both ancient and modern painters.
Fresco painting lends itself to a colossal style, is robust, and has a matte surface, making it perfect for creating murals. The artist mixes dry-powder pigment with the plaster using water, and once the plaster has dried, uses it to permanently affix the painting to the wall. The adjective fresco, which means “fresh” in Italian, is the source of the word fresco. Regardless of the plaster technology or binding substance, any wall painting in English is incorrectly and frequently referred to as a fresco.
As seen by well-preserved masterpieces like the Roman frescoes of Pompeii and well-known Renaissance paintings like Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, muralists naturally favour this durability.
The oldest known frescoes in India are those on the walls and ceilings of the Ajanta Caves, which were painted somewhere between 200 BC and 600. They portray the Jataka tales, which are accounts of the Buddha’s past lives as Bodhisattvas. The narrative episodes are shown one after the other, but not in straight succession. Since the site was rediscovered in 1819, its identification has been a primary focus of scholarship on the topic.
Various other locations, such as Bagh Caves, Ellora Caves, Sittanavasal, Armamalai Cave, Badami Cave Temples, and others, also contain priceless frescoes from the early mediaeval and ancient periods that have been preserved.
Legacy of Fresco Paintings in India
Frescos were employed to decorate interiors throughout the Mughal era, including dome ceilings and walls. The Chola paintings were the first Chola artworks to be discovered, and they were discovered at India’s Brihadisvara Temple’s circumambulatory walkway in 1931. The Chola murals were covered with new paint during the Nayak era. The fervent spirit of Shaivism is evident in the Chola frescoes that are buried beneath. They most likely coordinated with Rajaraja Cholan the Great’s completion of the temple. The method employed to create these frescos has been uncovered by researchers. The stones were covered with a smooth batter of a limestone combination, which took two to three days to set. Such substantial paintings were created in that brief period using natural organic pigments.
The Sheesh Mahal at Ramnagar, which is 105 kilometres from Jammu and 35 km west of Udhampur, is where the frescoes and paintings in the Dogra/Pahari style may be found in their original form. These wall paintings depict scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics as well as images of regional lords. Another historical Dogri fresco location is the Rang Mahal in Chamba (Himachal Pradesh), which has wall paintings of scenes from the Radha- Krishna Leela and Draupti Cheer Haran. This is on display at the National Museum in New Delhi in a room known as Chamba Rang Mahal.
The Contributions of Dr. Bhawani Shankar Sharma to the Indian Fresco Paintings
Dr. Bhawani Shankar Sharma has won the Rajasthan Lalit Kala Akademi more than five times. His work has been shown in numerous galleries and exhibitions across India as well as at numerous overseas exhibitions. He is credited with promoting the Arayash technique for Indian fresco paintings, which is not only a notable art style but also has significant aesthetic value and a rich historical background.
There are several names for the “wet process” fresco techniques used in the wall paintings of Jaipur, including Arayash, Alagila, and Morakasi. Rajasthan has not only conserved but also developed into a living form of its old art legacy. Here, fresco painting has benefited from royal patronage as well as ongoing support from the populace. In Amer-Jaipur, Shekhawati, Alwar, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Nagaur, Kota, Bundi, and other locations, the Arayash technique was primarily used. In old homes, temples, forts, and palaces, it was often employed for sketching, adorning, and straightforward plastering.
Murals and wall paintings are one of these historical sites’ most delicate and alluring features. Our nation has a long tradition of beautiful mural paintings, from Brihadesvara Temple in Tamil Nadu to Alchi Monastery in Ladakh. Shekhawati, the mural capital of India, stands out as one instance. Each piece of art deserves particular attention.
A variety of techniques are used by conservators, including documentation, analysis, treatments, and preparation for exhibition. They provide scientific research and analysis on the special histories, components, production processes, and conditions of the works that enter the collection. However, in addition to preserving the fresco paintings, it’s crucial to maintain its intangible value which can only be continued by using the artistic technique. Dr. Sharma is among the best instances of someone who has not only carried on the method but also preserved its cultural significance.
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