ART HISTORY

Most of our reknowned artists wanted to give credit to Amrita Sher Gill or Tagores for bringing modernism in Indian art.However, in fact, it was rather an extension of impressionist school of Paris.Having a tradition of miniature and mural painting, Indian painters never used oil painting medium before the colonial period. Born artists are infact endowed not only with rare imagination but also with a kind of institution which helps them invent methods to perfect the skill and workmanship . The acceptance of mythological element for pictorial expression is seen in the art of all the cultures-in the West.In Europe from Giotto (1266-1336) to Rembrandt (1606-1669) several painters chose to paint the episodes from the life of Christ and other religious stories.But when we access these paintings today, as works of art, we apply aesthetic canons of pictorial art to judge them.If we do the same exercise while examining some selected paintings of Raja Ravi Verma we are certain to rediscover those artistic values that are latently existing in them.

It is futile to debate on the issue of popular art against classical or creative art.Both have place in human culture.Popular art with vigour, vitality and emotional depth also has the potential power to rise high, and in the sensitive and receptive human culture it may even rise to the extent of assuming a new form of classical art.

If not today in years to come, some enlightened scholars in art may appear on the art scene of India, who will have, not merely the affinity and pride of our cultural past, but a true depth of vision and the discerning eye to rediscover, not only Raja Ravi Verma but the other forgotten great masters like Pestonji Bomanji (1851-1938), M.V.Dhurandhar (1867-1944), A.X.Trindade (1870-1935), A.H.Muller (1878-1960), S.L.Haldankar (1883-1968) and host of other such masters.Such rediscovery would not only help reassessing the art values that had, so far escaped our attention , but would install those forgotten artists in their right places in the annalss of our art history.

Sothbey's expected around 30,000 pounds to 45,000 pounds for 8 paintings of Raja Ravi Verma which were put in auction .However, the total amount finally received for those paintings were 77,950 pounds which was a record price for any Indian old master belonging to the colonial period.Just as the images in the art of painting keep changing as per changes in concepts and philosophy of art, the aesthetic norms, together with value-system also change accordingly.Therefore,how our present day schools of painting will be viewed and assessed after next few decades, will be difficult for anyone to fathom.It is also difficult to guess as to how many of the present-day paintings will survive for another 50 years or so, in good condition and without losing their tonal depth and luster of pigments.

During the last three decades or so Indian painters are being projected abroad in many countries, on various occassions.Therefore, they may perhaps assume, that their art is being accepted internationally.However, in 1973, as a part of the Silver Jubilee celebration of our Independence India sent one major exhibition of paintings of leading Indian painters to the United States.The exhibition was held in Washington D.C. at Smithsonion Institute and was inaugurated on 15th march 1973.

Now lets talk about few of our favorite international painters :

Leonardo Da Vinci ( 1452-1519 ) known in Florence as a rising painter, sculptor and architect.With the exception of an unfinished canvas of the "Adorations of the kings ," in the Uffizi at Florence, nearly all of his early work has been lost.He was the first painter to go to nature for his example.He owned nothing to the old classical rules and patterns.He was the first to realise the effects and to appreciate the beauties of light and shade.There can only be one summary of Leonardo Da Vinci that almost perfect example of the civilised mind wedded to a healthy body:He was the complete man

Albrecht Durer ( 1471-1528 ) was one of the greatest artistic geniuses that the world has produced.If there be need to add to that-he was a painter who produced the finest paintings in the whole history of German art, he was a supreme draughtsman , he was both a pioneer and master of etching.His work has since it's first appearence, delighted and inspired the world.

Michelangelo Buonarroti ( 1475-1564 ) made his own monuments to the loftiness of his genius.He carved them in marble, limned them in paint, built them in ink.He was a giant in an age of giants, an amazing Italian man who not only mastered art, but enslaved the arts.Throughout a long and painful life, he worked and toiled to give fresh beauty to the world and as long as civilisation lasts, the beauty that he created will move mankind and keep alive his name "the man with four souls".

You will be surprised to know that Chester Herwitz an American bussinessman,a leather manufacturer, who made shoes and handbags is a great admirer of contemporary Indian art.He has so far collected over 3000 paintings of Indian painters.He claims that he has best of Hussains, numbering over 200.Besides 60 Razas, 100 Laxma Gouds and other eminent artists in numbers.As he says," I do not keep single paintings. If I am interested in the artist I like to watch him through many works.I am interested in a continuous visions."

Herwitz's passion for Indian art and especially for India, as expressed by him in his own words is as follows "There is a nature of life here, of people and the chaotic plentitude of images which strikes you.We, in the U.S. experience life vicariously through winshields and the T.V screen.In India, you look out of the window and you get hit by the sharp diersity of images.When paintings vibrate with this reality, I'm taken in .......".

Thus the birth of "Great Indian Art"