India is such a vast land, not only in terms of physical space but also cultural and artistic traditions. Each of her 29 states has several indigenous ethnic groups with their own unique identity, demonstrated through their language, weaves, music and art.
Anrad started with a few pieces drawn from 12 of these artistic traditions, or styles of art. The guiding thought behind the choice is that each painting be true to the stylistic features, the tradition of making it, and the belief system of the artist’ community. You can read a brief description of these artistic traditions in this blog.
However, when we look at the number of artistic traditions in India, it turns out we've barely scratched the surface! I do hope to add regularly to the collection, over time including sculpture … stone and brass and wood; embroidery … phulkari and kantha and lucknowi; and crafts such as Sanjhi paper cut-outs … we could go on and on … and sincerely hope to do so soon.
The themes the artists’ depict through their art are also varied. One of the most joyful is drawn from life in the village. The observer is transported to experience the joyous giggles of children playing in makeshift playgrounds in the forested areas surrounding the village. Madhubani paintings often show these beautifully, using every bit of available space on the canvas.
Others revere Prakriti, or nature, and that stimulates their creative instinct. The art of the Gond tribe often shows fantastical inter-mixing of animal and plant life, inspired by what they see in the jungles surrounding their village. The art is recognizable by the intricate geometrical patterns used liberally throughout their art.
Pichwai art is anchored in Bhakti, or devotion, to Krishna. Some paintings are such intricate depictions of scenes from Lord Krishna's life that parts of it could easily make a painting independent of the whole! Nowadays, some artists have also started making more contemporary paintings with simpler motifs. Whatever the subject, the painting favours symbolism - unlike Phad art. Also from Rajasthan, Phads form a visual backdrop to local storytellers who tell us of the glories of deified chieftains who lived in c. 14th century, Pabuji and Devnarayan. They have more recently also started painting other themes that have their root in the Bhakti movement.
Kalamkari paintings, a textile art form from South India, show, among other themes, the most gorgeous, spectacular Trees of Life. Mata ni Pachedi art from Gujarat, depicts the Mother Goddess in intricate and glorious detail. The strength and awesome bearing of the Goddess is inspiring, to say the least.
Such awesome variety can keep an interested aficionado of art engaged, and learning, for a long time! Do have a read... and browse around the paintings section of the site where we present these forms of art. More than anything, we hope they speak to your soul, the way they do ours, in a way hard to find nowadays.