An average Indian is mostly aware of just two Indian artists – Raja Ravi Varma, who has been widely eulogized in movies and popular culture as the man who gave a face to your Gods and Goddesses and M F Hussain who was more reviled for doing almost the very same thing. The rest have been consigned to the bracket of what has been popularly termed “modern art” and passed off with a sheepish laugh of “I have no idea what paintings are all about.”
But, Modern Indian Art has followed quite so much the same trajectory as those in every other part of the world, albeit drawing inspiration from a slightly different set of circumstances and culture. If the founding of Shantiniketan is arguably one of the most influential events in the art movement of India, it was soon followed by other equally significant modern art movements, all bringing their own influence to art in the country.
The forefathers of Indian Modern Art – Abhanindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy and Nandalal Bose founded the Bengal School of Art in 1905. Henceforth the subject matter of most Indian art up until a lot later was predominantly influenced by the socio-political forces that were operational in India at that time – most prominently the freedom movement.
Other movements of art including the Progressive Artists Group in Bombay post independence, followed by the Maharaja Sayyajirao University in Baroda brought about changes in the way art was practiced and perceived in India, breaking away from the shackles of the European standards of study and culture and forging a completely new path in the modern art movement of the country.
Contemporary Art in India is now the home to many different ideologies and genres which all co-exist and flourish under a broad spectrum of “Indian Art Movement”. As everywhere else in the world, art movements feed off each other and are spawned by social and political events across the country and the globe. What turned out initially to be an outright rejection of colonial subjugation in ideas and academic thought, has now metamorphosized into a free flowing exchange of ideas across the world, refusing to be shackled into any distinct identity.
*Jokulsarlon in Iceland (by Anjana, 2012)
Indian Art is however, strongly rooted in Indian thought and philosophy and carries with it the cultural heritage of our country. Religion is a major influence, so is music and folk art, which resonates strongly with the art movement. The colours and styles adopted by artists in India is strongly influenced by the vivid hues of the landscape itself as well as the dramatic silhouettes of our flamboyant people.
Of late, just like everywhere else in the world, photography has been drafted into the ambit of art and has begun to make its presence known. Photography, drawing inspiration directly from daily life has become representative of the kind of society we live in and holds up a mirror for us to see ourselves, just as all art is apt to do. Subject matter is so varied and distinct, it is possible to recognize the styles of Indian photographers without much difficulty.
Having been a part of the artists’ fraternity and been questioned widely by those unexposed to the market as to what is “fashionable” or “interesting” in art besides of being asked about how to interpret paintings, I have always said, it is best to follow one’s heart and perception. If you like what you see, it follows that it must be good, despite what the expert opinion is. You will be the one who views art that is on your walls every day of your life and what you put there could actually brighten or darken your day.
One always comes across the stereotypical struggling artist who is harried and beating the path to galleries to show his work and also the average buyer who probably does not know much about art but wishes to buy something beautiful and inspirational, all the same. Both have to go essentially go through the condescending and patronizing eye of a gallery curator who will probably intimidate them enough to give up trying to make a go of it. Many an artist has lost out because buyers are too shy to walk into galleries to look at art.
The founders of EmorArt – the beautiful people who have sunk their all into this venture - time, money, efforts and passion, rightfully surmised that an online portal for buying Art will bridge the gap between the artist and the buyer, making it more accessible all around. Anjana is an artist herself and the others who walk with her are ardent art lovers and no other people I know, have felt so keenly and passionately about art the way they do. They love the stories that come with the art and artists, and revere fervently the skill that these artists have, to bring to life the stories that they have to tell.
Through EmorArt they hope to match the two – and give one a platform and the other a choice, without the disdain. Through their persuasive skills, the promoters of EmorArt have managed to draw out the normally shy and reticent artist to putting out his own personality along with that of the art. Although the online forum looks quite impersonal, this essentially need not be true, since you would learn about the artist too and reach out to them and perhaps make their stories your own.