24 April 2010

The Bengal school of art...........a revolutionary period in Indian art!!!

A very notable point of interest that has always intrigued me is the fact that there seems to be a lot of knowledge & data everwhere of the western school of art, which deserves a rightful place as a precursor to the mordern art movement. But what also cannot be ignored, especially in India is that there were & are art movements that have tried & succeeded in building their own path & contributing to art as a whole.

The most notable of these, is 'The Bengal Art movement' where the local art form of Bengal used since time immemorial in pottery & other sculptures of the region was adapted & used in paintings & other media. It was given a lot of importance & emphasis by Rabindranath Tagore, the noted poet & path breaking artist who created an art school at 'Shantiniketan' to encourage young artists, a fact not known to many people including me till a while ago!!!

In the early 20th century, artists were mostly following the western method of painting fully supported by the British who were the rulers at the time. But gradually, with the commencement of the nationalist movement, Indian sentiments & spiritual ideas, began to take precedence as a way to react against the prevailing academic styles. Incidentally, it was a British art teacher, Ernest Binfield Havel who encouraged Indian students at Kolkata's school of art to depict Mughal miniatures in their own way which led to a major controversy terming it a retrogressive move. But this did not deter Havel, who together with Abanindranath Tagore, nephew of Rabindranath Tagore painted numerous works inspired by Mughal art & so was born this movement bringing forth art, descriptive of India's spiritual essence, as opposed to the West's depiction of materialism.

The best known work of this art movement, is that of Tagore's 'Bharath Mata' depicting a Goddess like figure with four hands holding objects symbolic of India's national aspirations, a rather subjective reflection of the artist's viewpoint.

With time, there was a decline of this school's influence on art with the spread of mordernistic & newer concepts. However, the Bengal school's legacy still continues to leave its impact on art as a whole to this day, seen in the works of a large number of mordern Indian artist's like Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose, Sunayani Devi amongst others!!!!

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