A Guide to Buying Indian Paintings for Your Home

Man Playing With Two Pipes, 2009, Oil and Photo Transfer On Canvas; Photo Courtesy: Gallery Maskara Man Playing With Two Pipes, 2009, Oil and Photo Transfer On Canvas; Photo Courtesy: Gallery Maskara

A Guide to Buying Indian Paintings for Your Home

Bangalore has traditionally had a strong culture of art appreciation, and this has been brought forward by galleries like Natesans and Mahua. The annual Chitra Kala Parishath is also a great way for you to start buying paintings for your home, whether watercolour paintings, oil paintings or others. For those that are so inclined, we needn’t look only to Andy Warhol’s pop art and the Impressionist prints of the Masters. This is our handy little guide to 4 of India’s most beautiful art forms – all of which would great in your home!

Madhubani Paintings

The Nine Forms of the Divine Feminine/ Durga Shakti, Madhubani style ritsin.com Nine forms of the Diving Feminine or Shakti, done in the Madhubani style

Madhubani paintings are from a small village called Maithili in Bihar. It originally began as wall art, with the women of the village illustrating their thoughts, hopes and dreams. Mostly religiously themed, these showed Hindu gods like Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga and Saraswati. Also widely depicted where the natural elements like the sun, moon and religious plants. Empty spaces in the painting were often filled with motifs of flowers, animals, birds and geometric designs. In time, these paintings became a part of their festivities and special events before becoming more mainstream and receiving great appreciation from the connoisseurs of art. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were practiced on handmade paper coated with a layer of cow dung using vegetable colours and rice paste. Today, however, Madhubani paintings can easily be found across Bangalore done in watercolours, acrylics and even oil on canvas.

Warli Paintings

Colourful Warli Painting Warli Painting from Maharashtra on Tussar Silk

The Warli style of painting is one of India’s oldest, dating back to 3000BC. Done by the Adivasis (tribals) from the north Sahayadri range these are very simple wall paintings using basic geometric shapes like circles, triangles and squares. Stemming from their observation of nature, the circle represents the sun and moon, the triangle from the mountains and the square form a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. The central motifs in these ritual paintings portray hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. Apart from depicting day to day activity in the village, there is one striking aspect of many Warli paintings- the Tarpa dance. The Tarpa, a trumpet like instrument, is played in turns by different men. Men and women entwine their hands and move in a circle around the Tarpa player. This circle formation of the dancers is also said to resemble the circle of life.

Tanjore Paintings

Tanjore Painting of Radha Krishna Tanjore Painting of Radha Krishna

Tanjores are panel paintings from south India. Essentially from Thanjavur, in Tamil Nadu, the art form draws its immediate resources and inspiration in 1600 AD. Characterised by rich, flat and vivid colours, simple iconic compositions, Tanjore paintings were a study in opulent detail, with glittering gold foil overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlays of glass beads and semi-precious gems. These paintings grew to reflect various styles – Deccani, Vijayanagar and Maratha alike. Basically serving as devotional icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints but there are also many instances when Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious and even secular subjects are depicted. Today, old homes across Bangalore proudly display heirloom orginal Tanjore paintings, but these are increasingly rare. You could start with a print of a classic, or any of the lower priced, but equally beautiful originals.

Pattachitra Paintings

Pattachitra painting being done by hand, multicoloured courtesy gaatha.com

Pattachitra is a special type of folk painting from the eastern state of Orissa. An ancient art form, the Pattachitra paintings resemble the murals of Konark, Puri and other settlements, dating back to the 5th century BC! ‘Patta’ means ‘Vastra’ or ‘clothings’ and ‘chitra’ stands for paintings. Painted on a cloth base, this art form is closely associated with the devotion of Lord Jagannath. Apart from the mesmerizing evidence of sculpture and paintings on the cave walls of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, these paintings now are available across India. The more intricate Pattchitra works can run into lakhs of rupees, but there are many simpler, beautiful works that are very affordable!

Tip: In Bangalore, one could try the exhibitions at Safina Plaza, Commerial Street to get a very reasonably priced original Pattachitra!



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