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Art Guide

With the arrival of the British, Indian painting took a new turn. This period saw the emergence of an Indo-European genre of painting known as the Company style. It was only with the rise of political consciousness that Indian art came into its own, once again.

Two prominent names which figure in 20th century Indian art are Amrita Shergil - a woman trained in Paris, and Rabindranath Tagore. In this period, Indians were not only fighting for political independence, but were also liberating themselves from their traditional mind-sets and trappings. Much of the art of this era depicts this newly emerging social consciousness.

Independence saw the setting up of a new school of art in Bombay, called the Progressive Artists Group. The prominent artists of this group are Francis Newton Souza the founder, and Maqbool Fida Husain. Painting took a new form in this period - bold and furious at one end, soft and magical at the other. Gulam Muhammed Sheikh, Bhupen Khakkar and Sundaram are some other names featuring in India's contemporary art scene. Most contemporary Indian paintings contain imagery that is literal and colour that is highly charged, creating a kaleidoscope of humanity and the human condition in modern India.

The Indian paintings have now acquired a stature of their own. They use materials and techniques from all over the world but express Indian realities and Indian experiences. The respect for tradition and the ability to transcend it at the same time is clearly evident in Indian art of today. This is the essence of what has been described as the eclecticism of the Indian contemporary expression.