Identity Of Indian Art 

Sunday, June 20, 2010 5:40:17 PM

- By Prof. R. S. Bisht

Creativity is not an isolated activity. When in any society the social and cultural awareness is found missing it always has a dampening influence on creativity.

Right from early morning newspapers, radio and television draw our attention to art news. It probably indicates the growing interest in art among the city dwellers, but still a vast population remains uninformed because the mass media reaches only a small fraction of the population in our country. However, it would be worthwhile to review the currents and cross currents in the field of visual art that have stirred, the art world. Obviously paintings, to some extent, being universal language, could not remain insular. International factors which have influenced us have got also to be considered in today’s development in art in our country.

Academies, cultural clubs, art shops and societies, have come up, and art is constantly being remodelled since Independence. The metropolitan cities attract large number of artists from various parts of the country for holding exhibitions of their works. This eventually encouraged the establishment of the commercial art galleries on the pattern of the art galleries in the west. This naturally threw up economic issues concerning the mechanism of the art galleries. Experiences in other developed countries were helpful but certain new dimensions have inevitably been initiated engulfing the metropolitan and other major centres of the country. The cultural pacts with many countries with diverse political systems have opened new dimensions – pleasant, and sometime unpleasant.

Nevertheless this helped us to relate to and compare our arts with those of others and has also promoted us in rediscovering and revealing many unknown elements. With increasing general awareness the art education which was limited to professional schools of art got its rightful place in university education. New faculties in Fine Art with vigorous teaching have also come up in some universities. This led to a considerable increase in number of professional painters. Art exhibitions: International, National, State, Group and Solo have become regular features. But all this remains confined to the larger cities, and art centres cover a very small population and area.

Large numbers of urbanised Indians, live in sub-human surroundings. Houses, streets, towns and cities are over crowded. Civic facilities in many areas either don’t exist or are scanty. They are worse than ghettoes. Cinema being the only form of entertainment. Museums, art galleries, art exhibitions, theatres and other performing arts are generally not known to these people. The old forms of performing arts like Kabbadi, Nautanki, Ram Lila, etc. are gradually disappearing; School, College or extra-curricular activities are hardly seen. Bizarre calendars are mostly displayed in homes. Records of film songs are played, with loudspeakers all twenty four hours.

The other group of privileged urbanised Indians grow in an altogether different atmosphere. This alien, and a rather technological culture has gradually made inroads, into our soil and has already done greater damage than a foreign rule which lasted for over two hundred years. And now, to many, anything from the west is the one and only gospel. This is a complex and absurd situation breeding complexities. Unfortunately by and large the modern Indian thrives in this atmosphere.

When in any society the social and cultural awareness is found missing it has always a dampening influence on creativity. After all, creativity is not an isolated activity. In such social situations creativity suffers and healthy and meaningful forms do not take birth, ultimately leading to morona, and creative degeneration. Thus it is natural that such climate only generates a lop-sided growth. This and many other factors born out of social-economic problems resulted in inspiring a large number of Indians. New expressions in the realm of art did not resemble the contemporary art of the most advanced art centres of the West. These new art forms still do not find a genuine place in the minds of these so-called West-oriented art-minded people and, what is most unfortunate, these people control power and money and are, therefore directly or indirectly instrumental in shaping the art scene of the country.

We should intensify our effort, in knowing ourselves in terms of visual art forms which existed and also try to unearth the remaining hidden art treasure in various forms of human expressions. This is in abundance in many remote parts of the country.

This situation will have to be re-examined and, if necessary, altered. At the same time we should intensify our effort, in knowing ourselves in terms of visual art forms which existed and also try to unearth the remaining hidden art treasure in various forms of human expressions. This is in abundance in many remote parts of the country, and we must study them in their perspective which, I am sure in many ways, will give us new insight. This will help in revitalizing the new art forms and the deep love for the art heritage and also lead to a formulation of a mechanism for constant nourishment and re-interpretation in the new context of human achievement as a whole. Unless a genuine and concerted effort is made in the direction suggested we will not be able to have a real, viable, and meaningful creativity.

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