Devotion and Contemporary Art in India- part 2

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Devotion and Contemporary Art in India- part 2

There is a continuous journey of art with civilization. As science invented many things and people get much facilitation similarly art help people in developing  their brain and unknowingly it affects the society and culture. In early time in caves or after that in houses people used to draw some tribe or folk type of paintings.

 Although the subject is very wide, but now we will stop it here briefly and discuss Bhakti in modern art.

Bhakti in Contemporary Art

Contemporary does not mean only the art of today but it is related to the generations who contributed their art in the past which belong to the present.


Modern art in western countries was born around the 14th century and in India from the 19th century after Raja Ravi Varma: there was a revolution in the world of painting

 Printing presses were established and images of God and Goddess were accessible to the common people. There were artists like Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose and many others who contributed to Bhakti or Bhakti art.

With the Swadeshi movement gaining momentum by 1905, Indian artists attempted to revive the cultural identity suppressed by the British, rejecting the Romantic style of the Company's paintings and the attitudes of Raja Ravi Varma and his followers. It is thus known as the Bengal School of Art, led by the Asian styles (with an emphasis on Indian nationalism) of Abanindranath Tagore (1871–1951), known as the father of modern Indian art. Other artists of the Tagore family, such as Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) and Gaganendranath Tagore (1867–1938), as well as early 20th-century artists such as Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941), introduced the Western Styles in Indian Art.

  After that came the time of modern art in the field of art. During this artists like M.F. Hussain, Tyab Mehta, Manjit Baba and others came to take devotion to a different level in art. He pulled them off differently and presented his own unique style.

    After that, in the contemporary world, came Ganesh Payne, Atul Dodiya and other artists who presented images of God with different views.


In 1947, India became independent from British rule. A group of six artists - K.H.Ara, S.K.Bakre, H.A. Gade, M.F. Hussain, S.H. Raza and Francis Newton Souza - founded the Bombay Progressive Artists Group established new ways of expressing India in the post-colonial era. Although the group was disbanded in 1956, it had a profound influence in changing the idiom of Indian art. In the 1950s almost all the leading artists of India were associated with the group. Manushi Dey, V.S. Gaitonde, Krishna Khanna, Ram Kumar, Tyab Mehta, K.G. Subramaniam, A. Ramachandran, Devendra Singh, Akbar Padamsee, John Wilkins, Himmat Shah and Manjit Bawa are some of the famous people of today. There is so much diversity in Indian art today as never before. The most famous artists of the new generation include Bose Krishnamachari and Bikash Bhattacharya. Another prominent Pakistani modernist was Ismail Gulgee, who after Circa 1960 adopted an abstract phrase that combines aspects of Islamic calligraphy with an abstract expressionist (or gesture abstractionist) sensibility.

Painting and sculpture remained in importance in the second half of the twentieth century, although they often found new directions in the work of prominent artists such as Nalini Malani, Subodhgupta, Narayanan Ramachandran, Jitish Kallat, Vivan Sundaram. Bharti Dayal has chosen to handle the traditional Mithila painting in the most contemporary way and using her imagination has created her own style, they appear fresh and unusual.

The word contemporary has a broad meaning. Art and artists have always been influenced by devotion since the last 16th century. And we find that Krishna, Shiva and Lord Rama are being accepted as the guiding sources of the Indian art of Bhakti movement. Painting and sculpture are widely influenced by the Bhakti movement in our country from north to south and south to west. We find Krishna as the centre of the Bhakti movement in Indian culture and art.

It is not about any religion; it is complete surrender of oneself to which it is not important. When you are overwhelmed and want to express yourself, you need few words or lines, colours to express, although God is formless, still He have also a positive form. Many times artist describes Him as figurative or sometimes as formless. This is a great journey inward.

According to Roger Fry (an English painter and critic) in his famous Critical and Speculative Essays on Art - “Transformations", '' how something is represented is more important not what is represented.”

Though being an artist, in my view art and devotion are similar, yet they differ only in certain practices as per aspiration. So there is this journey of knowing oneself through art from beginning to end and this is what is called Bhakti in art.


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