May 31, 2023
Kalighat painting

Kalighat painting

Discover the unique blend of Oriental and Occidental styles in the fascinating history of Kalighat paintings.

Have you ever heard of Kalighat paintings? These unique works of art were born in the 19th century in Bengal and quickly gained popularity thanks to their fusion of Oriental and Occidental styles. But how did this art form come to be, and what makes it so special?

It all started with the traditional art of scroll paintings that was popular in rural areas of Bengal. The patuas, or ‘painters on cloth,’ created these paintings on cloth or patas and depicted conventional images of gods and goddesses, as well as scenes from epics like Tulsidas’ Rama charita manas. They would travel from place to place with their scroll paintings and sing the scenes from the epics depicted in the paintings during village gatherings and festivals.

Kalighat Painting: Courtesan holding a Peacock

Then came the British, who were interested in art, literature, and music. They established institutions that imparted a European style of academic training to Indian artists. Traditional artists, including the patuas, were attracted to the Calcutta School of Art, where they discovered newer techniques that could help them increase their earnings. And thus, the Kalighat painting was born.

The Kalighat School was a unique blend of two different styles of painting—the Oriental and the Occidental. The artists portrayed various themes, including religious themes such as the goddess Kali, Durga, Lakshmi, and Annapurna, as well as secular themes such as different professions and costumes. Even contemporary events like crime were the subject of many paintings. The artists also painted heroic characters like Tipu Sultan and Rani Lakshmibai, playing a role in the Independence movement.

What makes Kalighat paintings special is their ability to capture everyday life and contemporary events in a way that resonated with people of all backgrounds. The fusion of Oriental and Occidental styles created a unique art form that is still admired today. And although the Kalighat School eventually declined in popularity, its influence can still be seen in modern Indian art.

In conclusion, the story of Kalighat paintings is a testament to the power of creativity and the ability of artists to adapt and evolve. It shows how traditional art forms can be transformed through exposure to new techniques and ideas, and how art can reflect the changing times and the aspirations of a people. So the next time you come across a Kalighat painting, take a moment to appreciate the history and culture behind this fascinating art form.

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