Indian Modern Art

Indian Modern art is becoming a popular feature in museums, auctions and galleries. Look for a cubist or surrealist painting or drawing or a unique sculpture for your home or collection…

A Brief Guide to Indian Modern Art for the Novice or Seasoned Collector

A Brief Guide to Indian Modern Art for the Novice or Seasoned Collector
Indian Modern art is becoming a popular feature in museums, auctions and galleries. Look for a cubist or surrealist painting or drawing or a unique sculpture for your home or collection.

The History of Indian Modern Art
Indian modern art began in the late days of the British Empire, when many Indian artists were breaking with artistic tradition and incorporating modernism and surrealism into their work. Nascent statehood and other political themes helped shaped the sensibilities of the Progressive School, and contemporary Indian Art deals with themes of Westernization, traditional motifs and everyday life in 21st century India. Movements like Pseudorealism got their start in the country and time-honored artistic traditions, such as miniatures and representations of deities are given a contemporary flavor.

The Bengal and Progressive Schools of Indian Modern Art
Prior to Indian statehood, the Bengal school was a dominant force in Indian modern art and broke away from conventional subjects and styles of painting. When techniques and motifs were used, they were portrayed with touches of modernism and with more realistic representations. Leading the Bengal School wasAbanindranath Tagore, nephew of the poet Rabindranath Tagore. He created modernist works often based on time-honored themes and expressing national pride. One of his best-known paintings is Bharat Mata, or Mother India, and it shows a realistic-looking woman with four arms, as Hindu goddesses were often portrayed in ancient paintings, with four objects in her hands representing different aspects of India.

The Progressive school began with India’s statehood and was centered around Bombay. Writers, artists and playwrights were influenced by Marxism and internationalism and created artwork that focused on these themes. Leading Progressive painters were Francis Newton Souza and MaqboolFida Husain. The latter, who began his career in art painting billboards, was influenced by art movements such as Cubism and surrealism, which were popular in Europe, although his paintings show an interest in life in India, particularly the cinema.

Minimalism, Abstraction and Photography in Indian Modern Art
NatvarBhavsar began his art career as a Cubist but became influenced by abstract expressionism. His art is characterized by a hazy object giving off a glow of color. The colors he uses are characteristic of Indian modern art and he is influence by Indian sand painting. He soaks the canvas in acrylic binders and that holds the fine colored powder and then drizzles pigment onto the canvas.

NasreenMohamedi was reknown for her minimalist line drawings and was one of the seminal modern artists in India. She was not well-known outside of India during her lifetime, but following her passing in 1990, her work began to receive critical acclaim internationally, and was exhibited in MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Mohamedi was influence by Zen art and philosophy and the clean lines and patterns of Islamic art.
Arpita Singh began her career after art school in New Delhi painting black and white abstracts, but then made a shift towards folk painting of women in bright colors. She depicted the daily lives of women and often featured them nude as a way of expressing their vulnerability.

Raghubir Singh was a mainly self-taught photographer who focused on the documentary style of photography, depicting daily life in India for leading publications such as Time, the New Yorker and National Geographic. He included aspects of modernism and realism in his photographs and he worked with vibrant colors. Singh passed away at the age of 1999 at the age of just 57, but he left behind twelve books of photographs from all over India, especially Rajasthan, Bombay and Kashmir.

Indian Modern Art’s Pop Surrealism, Pseudorealism and Beyond
Subodh Gupta began as a painter, but his art is multi-media, and includes installation, video and sculpture. He is called a conceptual artist, a pop surrealist and is sometimes compared to Damien Hirst, with the startling displays of ordinary objects placed to create unconventional combinations. He displays pots and pans rising to create a mushroom cloud and also has spoons and other kitchen implements suspended in midair. Cow dung, which was a major source of fuel in Indian villages, also features prominently in his Indian modern art.
JitishKallat is also a multi-media artist who works with paint, collage, installation, sculpture and video. His paintings tend to be large and focus on family, life cycles, and the bustling streets of modern India. He produced a series of sculptures made of of resin and depicting the city life of Mumbai. In addition, he has many paintings that seem to mimic billboards and show products and travelers on the subway as if they are products being advertised. While many of his subjects are manual laborers and the working class, he did a series of paintings in a Public Notice series, featuring words of speeches from Nehru, Ghandi and other leaders of India juxtaposed with bones, turmeric and other imagery.

Devjyoti Ray, born in 1974, received recognition at a fairly young age for vibrant artwork that followed substantial economic reforms in India in the 1990s. Ray is known for pseudorealism, which involves unusual colors and shapes that look realistic.

Devjyoti Ray’s Indian modern art pseudorealism
Many of the images are of people but the faces lack features and they are surrounded by bold swathes of color.
With increasing globalization, not only in commerce but in the marketplace of art and ideas, Indian  modernart is increasingly reaching an audience around the world, and contemporary Indian artists are gaining attention, exhibitions overseas and having their work sold in galleries in Europe and the United States. An original painting makes a home or office unique and highlights space to add vitality or to create a mood. Indian modern art is not only an impressive acquisition and a memorable gift, but is a sound investment, given the growing popularity of Indian art and artists around the world.

Work by contemporary artists from India can be seen in museums, purchased in auction houses and in specialty galleries. With research and guidance from a seasoned dealer, you can find a one-of-a-kind work of art that exists nowhere else in the world and is an authentic piece created by an esteemed Indian artists. Whether you are looking for a Cubists piece from the Progressive Period or a pseudorealist painting from a contemporary artist, you may find what you are looking for with persistence and the right advice.