Republic Day is a celebration of India’s rich and diverse culture, tradition and heritage along with the vibrant tapestry of arts and crafts to emerge from the subcontinent. Modern Indian art along with the subversive voices of contemporary Indian art have, over time, contributed to the indomitable spirit that the country is known for. From the evocative strokes of legendary artists to the emerging voices of the contemporary scene, this is an exploration of how the essence of India’s Republic permeates canvases.
Infused with vibrant hues and intricate details, art inspired by India echoes the kaleidoscope of its diverse traditions and ancient spirituality. From the intricate patterns of mehndi and other crafts, to the majestic depictions of gods and goddesses, Indian-inspired art transcends time, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the country’s captivating tapestry of culture. Through a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, artists continue to craft visual narratives that resonate with India’s timeless allure. Presented below are instances of the visual celebration of freedom, diversity, and resilience through the eyes of visionary painters as well as post-independence.
Spirit of India – MF Husain
The iconic artist MF Husain’s work is inextricably linked to India, its traditions and culture. Witnessing India under colonial rule, the struggles of the citizens of the country and the impact Independence had on the country, greatly influenced the artist to create a massive oeuvre of works that told the story of the subcontinent. Born in 1915 in Pandharpur, he was also part of the influential Progressive Artists’ Group that shaped Modern Indian Art. In his unique Cubist style, the maestro explored themes of Indian mythology, the film industry, the British Raj and rural life among several others. This solidified his status as one of the most celebrated artists to ever emerge from the country.
Bapu With Soldiers – Debanjan Roy
Born in 1975, sculptor Debanjan Roy is based in Kolkata and best known for his Pop Art sculptures. He has always been fascinated by Mahatma Gandhi and what the Father of the Nation symbolises. His striking sculptures of Gandhi often see him in modern situations and are executed in a bright red. The colour is used to signify his many sacrifices to help the country achieve liberation from colonialism. The themes of nationalism and patriotism are explored through the intensely pop art colour palette along with traditional expression.
Untitled – KK Hebbar
Eminent artist KK Hebbar was known for blending together Western modernism along with traditional Indian art values to create a distinct visual syntax. Born in 1911 in Karnataka, the artist and educator, received formal art training from Sir J.J. School of Art after which he reinvented his own style. Using Indian dance forms and folk music as inspiration, he infused a certain dynamism into his imaginative works that paid homage to the richness and diversity of the country. Hebbar was known for his vivid colours and fluid brush strokes, which lent to him being essential in the fabric of Indian art history.
Charming Nation : Smoke Goes Up, Smoke Goes Down – NS Harsha
Born in Mysore in 1969, NS Harsha is a contemporary artist who creates poetic works that delve into social and political themes, among others. Traversing through various genres and mediums, Harsha’s art practice stands at a junction of personal narrative intertwining with his response to the numerous geopolitical issues and events grasping the world. Referencing a broad range of painting traditions and popular art of India such as comics, Bazaar Arts, and even children textbooks illustrations and pop culture, Harsha’s majestic tapestry-like canvases are populated by obscure images from the hinterland of India.
Sneha Gautam is Senior Vice President,
Client Relations, AstaGuru Auction House