Posted by: musicnarts | December 14, 2011

Music and Arts of India

Indian Art is the visual art produced on the Indian subcontinent from about the 3rd millennium BC to modern times. To viewers schooled in the Western tradition, Indian art may seem overly ornate and sensuous; appreciation of its refinement comes only gradually, as a rule. Voluptuous feeling is given unusually free expression in Indian culture. A strong sense of design is also characteristic of Indian art and can be observed in its modern as well as in its traditional forms.

The vast scope of the art of India intertwines with the cultural history, religions and philosophies which place art production and patronage in social and cultural contexts.

Indian art can be classified into specific periods each reflecting particular religious, political and cultural developments.

Fresco from Ajanta, c. 450-500


Pair of gold earings 1st Century B.C Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian subcontinent has the longest continuous legacy of jewellery-making, with a history of over 5,000 years.[1] One of the first to start jewellery-making were the peoples of the Indus Valley Civilization. Early jewellery making in China started around the same period, but it became widespread with the spread of Buddhism around 2,000 years ago.

[edit] Temple and Sculpture-art

Apsara, Dancing Celestial 10th Century.

The earliest Indian religion to inspire major artistic monuments was Buddhism. Though there may have been earlier structures in wood that have been transformed into stone structures, there are no physical evidences for these except textual references. Obscurity shrouds the period between the decline of the Harappans and the definite historic period starting with the Mauryas. Soon after the Buddhists initiated the rock-cut caves, Hindus and Jains started to imitate them at Badami, Aihole, Ellora, Salsette, Elephanta, Aurangabad and Mamallapuram.

Indian rock art has continuously evolved, since the first rock cut caves, to suit different purposes, social and religious contexts, and regional differences.It is an excellent art form.

[edit] Bronze Sculpture

Bronze Statue of Nataraja at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes.[2] Among the existing specimens in the various museums of the world and in the temples of South India may be seen many fine figures of Siva in various forms, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, Siva saints and many more.[3]

Chola bronzes were created using the lost wax technique.[4] It is known in artistic terms as “Cire Perdue”. The Sanskrit Shilpa texts call it the Madhu Uchchishtta Vidhana.

[edit] Indian fresco

For more details on this topic, see Cave paintings in India.

The tradition and methods of Indian cliff painting gradually evolved throughout many thousands of years – there are multiple locations found with prehistoric art. The oldest frescoes of historical period have been preserved in Ajanta Caves from 2nd century BC. Despite climatic conditions that tend to work against the survival of older paintings, in total there are known more than 20 locations in India with paintings and traces of former paintings of ancient and early medieval times (up to 8th – 10th century AD).[5] The most significant frescoes of the ancient and early medieval period are Buddhist works in the Ajanta Caves, Bagh Caves, Ellora Caves, Sittanavasal.

The Chola fresco paintings were discovered in 1931 within the circumambulatory passage of the Brihadisvara Temple in India and are the first Chola specimens discovered.

Researchers have discovered the technique used in these frescoes. A smooth batter of limestone mixture is applied over the stones, which took two to three days to set. Within that short span, such large paintings were painted with natural organic pigments.

During the Nayak period the chola paintings were painted over. The Chola frescoes lying underneath have an ardent spirit of saivism is expressed in them. They probably synchronised with the completion of the temple by Rajaraja Cholan the Great.

Kerala mural painting has well preserved fresco or mural or wall painting in temple walls in Pundarikapuram, Ettumanoor and Aymanam and elsewhere.

[edit] Miniature painting

Mughal painting in miniatures on paper developed very quickly in the late 16th century from the combined influence of the existing miniature tradition and artists trained in the Persian miniature tradition imported by the Mughal Emperor‘s court. New ingredients in the style were much greater realism, especially in portraits, and an interest in animals, plants and other aspects of the physical world. Miniatures either illustrated books or were single works for muraqqas or albums of painting and Islamic calligraphy. The style gradually spread in the next two centuries to influence painting on paper in both Muslim and Hindu princely courts, developing into a number of regional styles often called “sub-Mughal”, including Kangra painting and Rajput painting, and finally Company painting, a hybrid watercolour style influenced by European art and largely patronized by the people of the British raj.

[edit] Folk and tribal art

Folk and tribal art in India takes on different manifestations through varied medium such as pottery, painting, metalwork,dhokra art, paper-art, weaving and designing of objects such as jewelry and toys.

Often puranic gods and legends are transformed into contemporary forms and familiar images. Fairs, festivals, and local deities play a vital role in these arts.

It is in art where life and creativity are inseparable. The tribal arts have a unique sensitivity, as the tribal people possess an intense awareness very different from the settled and urbanized people. Their minds are supple and intense with myth, legends, snippets from epic, multitudinous gods born out of dream and fantasy. Their art is an expression of their life and holds their passion and mystery.

Folk art also includes the visual expressions of the wandering nomads. This is the art of people who are exposed to changing landscapes as they travel over the valleys and highlands of India. They carry with them the experiences and memories of different spaces and their art consists of the transient and dynamic pattern of life. The rural, tribal and arts of the nomads constitute the matrix of folk expression.

The Taj Mahal built by the Mughals.

The folk spirit has a tremendous role to play in the development of art and in the overall consciousness of indigenous cultures. The Taj Mahal, the Ajanta and Ellora caves have become world famous. The Taj Mahal is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

[edit] Art in the British period

Main article: Indian painting

Tipu’s Tiger, an 18th-century automata in the V&A, London, with the keyboard visible.

British colonial rule had a great impact on Indian art. The old patrons of art became less wealthy and influential, and Western art more ubiquitous. Abanindranath Tagore (1871–1951), referred to as the father of Modern Indian art introduced reworked Asian styles, in alignment with a developing Indian nationalism and pan_Asianism to create a new school of art, which is today known as the Bengal school of art. Other artists of the Tagore family, such as Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) and Gaganendranath Tagore (1867–1938) as well as new artists of the early 20th c such as Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941) were responsible for introducing Avant garde western styles into Indian Art. Many other artists like Jamini Roy and later S.H. Raza took inspiration from folk traditions.

In 1947 India became independent of British rule. A group of six artists – K. H. Ara, S. K. Bakre, H. A. Gade, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza and Francis Newton Souza – founded the Progressive Artist’s Group, to establish new ways of expressing India in the post-colonial era. Though the group was dissolved in 1956, it was profoundly influential in changing the idiom of Indian art. Almost all India’s major artists in the 1950s were associated with the group. Some of those who are well-known today are Bal Chabda, Manishi Dey, V. S. Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, Devender Singh, Akbar Padamsee, John Wilkins, Himmat Shah and Manjit Bawa. Present-day Indian art is varied as it had been never before. Among the best-known artists of the newer generation include Sanjay Bhattacharya, Bose Krishnamachari, Narayanan Ramachandran, Geeta Vadhera, Devajyoti Ray, Satish Gupta, Nikhil Bhandari and Bikash Bhattacharya. Another prominent Pakistani modernist was Ismail Gulgee, who after about 1960 adopted an abstract idiom that combines aspects of Islamic calligraphy with an abstract expressionist (or gestural abstractionist) sensibility.

[edit] Contemporary art

Three Girls, by Amrita Sher-Gil, 1935, now at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi

From the 1990s onwards, Indian artists began to increase the forms they used in their work. Painting and sculpture remained important, though in the work of leading artists such as Subodh Gupta,Narayanan Ramachandran, Vivan Sundaram, Jitish Kallat, Jagannath Panda, Atul and Anju Dodiya, Devajyoti Ray, T.V.Santosh, Shreya Chaturvedi, Vagaram Choudhary, Bharti Kher and Thukral and Tagra, Bhupat Dudi, Ranbir Kaleka, they often found radical new directions.Bharti Dayal has chosen to handle the traditional Mithila painting in most contemporary way and created her own style through the exercises of her own imagination , they appear fresh and unusual .

Crucially, however, in a complex time when the number of currents affecting Indian society seemed to multiply, many artists sought out new, more polyvocal and immersive forms of expression. Ranbir Kaleka, Raqs Media Collective have produced compelling contemporary works using such assortments of media forms including video and internet. Narayanan Ramachandran created a new style of painting called Third Eye Series. This development coincided with the emergence of new galleries interested in promoting a wider range of art forms, such as Nature Morte in Delhi and its partner gallery Bose Pacia Gallery (New York and Kolkata) and Sakshi Gallery, Chatterjee and Lal, and Project 88 and kalpa:vraksha in Mumbai. In addition, Talwar Gallery in New Delhi, India and New York, NY, represents a roster of diverse, internationally recognized artists from India and the Diaspora maintaining that the artist is geographically located and not the art ( In the UK, in April 2006, The Noble Sage Art Gallery opened to specialise exclusively in Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani contemporary art. The Noble Sage, rather than looking to the mewar, Mumbai, Delhi and Baroda schools, saw their gallery as an opportunity to platform the South Indian contemporary art scene, particularly the work arising from the Madras School. At the same, ironically, the absence of gallery or white cube support for newer ventures, produced a lot of artists who were connected to the Bangalore art scene(like Surekha’s “Communing With Urban Heroins” (2008) and “Un-Claimed and Other Urban F(r)ictions”, 2010) and those who produced a sense of art-community or art-activism in a certain sense.

Contemporary Indian art takes influence from all over the world. With many Indian artists immigrating to the west, art for some artists has been a form of expression merging their past with their current in western culture. As Shyamal Dutta Ray[citation needed] was concerned about Bengal and village life , new artists like Shreya Chaturvedi feels art should speak for itself. She believes modern art must communicate with the general public, connecting to them and motivating them through some great idea or message behind it.[citation needed]

Also, the increase in the discourse about Indian art, in English as well as vernacular Indian languages, appropriated the way art was perceived in the art schools. Critical approach became rigorous, critics like Geeta Kapur, Shivaji K. Panikkar, Parul Dave Mukherji, R. Siva Kumar, Gayathri Sinha, Anil Kumar H.A and Suresh Jayaram, amongst others, contributed to re-thinking contemporary art practice in India. The last decade or so has also witnessed an increase in Art magazines like Art India (from Bombay), Art & Deal (New Delhi, edited and published by Siddharth Tagore), ‘Art Etc.’ (from Emami Chisel, edited by Amit Mukhopadhyay) complementing the catalogues produced by the respective galleries.

By: Wikipedia the Free encyclopedia.

Indian Music

Music has always occupied a central place in the imagination of Indians. The range of musical phenomenon in India, and indeed the rest of South Asia, extends from simple melodies, commonly encountered among hill tribes, to what is one of the most well- developed “systems” of classical music in the world. Indian music can be described as having been inaugurated with the chanting of Vedic hymns, though it is more than probable that the Indus Valley Civilization was not without its musical culture, of which almost nothing is known. There are references to various string and wind instruments, as well as several kinds of drums and cymbals, in the Vedas. Sometime between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD, the Natyasastra, on Treatise on the Dramatic Arts, was composed by Bharata. This work has ever since exercised an incalculable influence on the development of Indian music, dance, and the performing arts in general.

The term raga, on which Indian music is based, was first discussed at any length in the Brhaddesi, a work from the 10th century attributed to Matanga. In the 13th century, the theorist Sarngadeva, who authored the large work Sangitaratnakara, listed 264 ragas; by this time, the Islamic presence was beginning to be felt in India. Some date the advent of the system of classical Indian music as we now know it to Amir Khusro. Muslim rulers and noblemen freely extended their patronage to music. In the courts of the Mughal emperors, music is said to have flourished, and the composer-musician Tansen was one of the jewels of Akbar’s court. Though songs had traditionally been composed in Sanskrit, by the sixteenth century theywere being composed in the various dialects of Hindi — Braj Bhasa and Bhojpuri among them — as well as Persian and Urdu. The great poet-saints who chose to communicate in the vernacular tongues brought forth a great upheaval in north India and the bhakti or devotional movements they led gained many adherents. The lyrics of Surdas, Tulsidas, and most particularly Kabir and Mirabai would henceforth be set to music, and bhajans, or devotional songs, continue to be immensely popular.

By the sixteenth century, the distinction between North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) music was also being more sharply delineated. Though music in the north, owing to the strong Muslim presence, had been more open to outside influences, in the eighteenth century South Indian musicians were to show themselves as being quite adept in adopting foreign instruments. Sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, the violin entered the repertoire of South Indian music, an instrument which in the late twentieth century has a dazzling array of extraordinarily brilliant performers. Classical music, both Hindustani and Carnatic, may be either instrumental or vocal: the connoisseurs of music maintain, as one might expect, that the vocalists represent the music in its greatest glory, but instrumental music has at least just as large a following. Though traditionally this music would have been performed in temples, courts, residences of noblemen and other patrons, and in small gatherings (called baithaks) of music aficionados, today most classical music concerts are held in concert halls.

In the 1960s, classical Indian music entered a new phase. It found adherents in the West, and the sitar of Ravi Shankar was to be heard on the famous Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Ravi Shankar, along with other well-known musicians like the Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan, was to make his home in the United States, and for the first time Indian classical music began to acquire Western students. Satyajit Ray, the first Indian director to acquire world fame, and a common name in repertory art cinemas, also brought classical Indian music to the attention of Westerners, for the music of some of his early films was composed by Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan, sometimes described as India’s greatest sitarist. Finally, collaborations ensued between Indians musicians and Western musicians, as in the case of Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin, who collaborated on a number of East-West albums. In recent years, Ravi Shankar has collaborated with the American minimalist composer, Philip Glass, on Passages; there have also been successful collaborations between L. Shankar and L. Subramaniam, both violinists, and Western musicians. This music is now routinely described as fusion. Though a musicians such as Ravi Shankar can scarcely be described as a household name in the West, he is unquestionably one of the most well-known non- Western musicians in the West, and Indian classical music can fairly be described as having carved a niche for itself in the world of concert music.

In India, however, music is most commonly associated with film music. Popular Indian films, whether in Hindi, Tamil, or any of the other Indian languages, are most often described and understood in the West as “musicals”, as they are seldom without songs, though they by no means constitute a genre as did American musicals. Also popular are ghazals, poetic compositions that aspire more than do popular film songs to poetic qualities: the subject here is usually the loss, memory, and remembrance of love. Qawaalis, compositions in which the subject is also love, though here it is understood that it is the love of man and woman for the Divine, have also attained a certain following, and in recent years the Pakistani qawaali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has established a world-wide reputation.





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