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History of Abstract Indian Art

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Abstraction, that is  compositions beyond forms had been existent in Indian art since time immemorial and elementary abstraction in the form of distortions in proportions, spatial compositions, non representationalcolour schemes can be seen in artworks found in ancient temples, caves, forts, etc.

While in European art, movement from realism to abstraction had been a linear progression and pure abstraction as form of fine art arrived only in 20th century, in the orient, this had never been the case. Oriental Art including Indian art had always exhibited high degrees of abstraction and it was only in 19th century when these countries were influence by the realist schools (like the CompanySchool) of west. Abstraction which appeared in the western art scene is however quite distinct from the kind of abstraction that existed inIndia before the coming of colonial powers to these countries.

In the 19th century when the great debate on national art was initiated by the BengalSchoolartists, two main schools of though had emerged. One school wanted to adapt the new Indian art forms of and accordingly this school produced many artworks in European styles of Cubism, Futurism, Impressionism and abstract expressionism. This school included such abstractionists as Gaganendranath Tagore, The other school primarily guided by Abanindranath Tagore tried to reinvestigate into Indian traditional modes of expression and bring these ideas into fine arts.

TheBengalSchoolmovement was for nationalist Indian art and it had helped revive many traditional forms of art and reintroduced many lost techniques of art inIndia. However the debate on what kind of abstract art should Indian art adapt to, fizzled out in course of time. In the post independence era, many artists had taken up abstraction in art important among who are Akabar Padamsee, Ramkumar, Jehangir Sabbawala, Prabhakar Kolte, Aatmanand Chauhan, Ganesh Gohain etc. Each of these artists had traversed a very individualist journey to arrive at their own forms of abstraction.

However pure abstraction like pure realism is impossible. Modern day abstractionists like S.H Raza use it only as a technique while keep the thematic construction meaningful.


Written by Breathe Arts

January 20, 2012 at 7:48 am

Posted in General

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