India is a land of talented artists who have been glorifying art for thousands of years. Due to the conventional structure of Indian art, not many artists were given the deserved accolades. Some, who won the prominence at the global level, are rarely known today. My attempt, through this article, is to bring up the name and game of those prodigious artists who have accomplished some remarkable feats for India in the last 2 centuries. Let’s start:
Raja Ravi Varma
Indian modern art is believed, to begin with, the independence era. However, most of the people don’t know that modern art entered India in the mid of 18th century itself, thanks to the brilliant and ingenious artist, Raja Ravi Varma. Known as the ‘father of Indian modern art’, Varma was born in an affluent family and since childhood had a likeliness for paintings. When he was 5, he started painting on his home walls.
Varma, in true meaning, was the first Indian painter who was able to win global recognition. What was more astonishing was that he was doing so when India was under the British colonial rule. In the year 1873, his paintings, for the very first time, were displayed in Vienna’s prestigious art exhibition, where his work won three awards. Even his painting, ‘Moonlight’, which he created in the year 1890 was sold for a staggering INR 24 crore.
The iron-lady of Indian art, Amrita Sher-Gil was born to be an artist. With a scholar father and a singer mother, Amrita was gifted with artistic talent, which she displayed in her childhood only. Even though she was born in Hungary and spent a majority of her childhood there, Amrita was always eluded with India. In the year 1921, Amrita came to India and rest is history.
Her paintings were a pure representation of how Indian women are facing misery and troubles in their lives. She was very much empathetic towards the suppression of women in Indian society. Through her work, she wanted to set a benchmark and an inspiration for the Indian women to dare and make name for themselves. One of the most famous painters of India, Amrita won a gold medal in Paris that is only won by an Asian artist till date. Her most famous painting, ‘Young Girls’ was an epitome of exquisite art. Known as the Frida Kahlo of India, Amrita’s ‘Untitled’ self-portrait was sold at illustrious Sotheby’s auction for INR 21 crores in the year 2015.
If you want to see the depth in Indian paintings, take a look at the work of art master, V.S.Gaitonde. A simple man, who doesn’t believe in words much, was highly expressive in his paintings. Certainly, Gaitonde can be termed as one of the most proficient and talent painters India has ever produced, Gaitonde is known by extremely fewer people in our nation. The Padmashree recipient, Gaitonde, was never found of the materialistic elements and fame. Because he didn’t believe in words much, most of his paintings were untitled. A few years back, long after his demise, Gaitonde’s untitled painting was sold for a record INR 29 crore at Christie’s.
Restlessness is a sign of a genius. This can be seen with the life of one of the famous painters of India, Francis Newton Souza. Born in Goa, Souza was a free soul, in literal terms. He never was the one who liked to follow the rules and was quite ferocious and taunting in his paintings too. Not many people were able to digest the bitter reality and truth of society which Souza displayed in his work. He was thrown out of the art college, Indian people protested against him, even the Catholic community was not happy with his creations. But nothing stopped Souza from developing some of the best modern paintings made by an Indian artist. One of his most flashy works, ‘Birth’ was sold in 2015 at Christie’s for a humungous INR 28.76 crores.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Husain, the ‘Picasso of India’, was the most gifted artists our nation has ever produced. With a below moderate family heritance, Husain had nothing but his flair to paint with him. Even his mother died when Husain was mere 2 years old. The hardship of life didn’t take Husain away from his passion but made him closer to art. Started his career by painting billboards and then the cinema hoardings in Bollywood, Husain was a true artist in every sense. Inspired by Cubism, Husain was a courageous painter who never shied away to throw truth on the canvas, doesn’t matter how dark and offensive it seems. ‘Ganga and Jamuna’, a masterpiece of Husain, clearly represents his artistic finesse. This piece bagged a whopping INR 11.5 crore in Christie’s.