Updated: Sep 21, 2021
1. Maqbool Fida Hussain
(17 September 1915 – 9 June 2011.)
Maqbool Fida Husain widely known as M.F Hussain was a popular Indian artist, a painter par excellence, known for his vivid, lively and intense paintings. He was one of the most eminent art personalities known on an international level.
Hussain was a self-taught artist who has proven to be the art virtuoso time and again, through the depth of his paintings and unmatchable skill. A couple of his brilliant and the most renowned works are, “Horses” and “Mother India”.
One of the greatest known artworks of Hussain, “Mother India” or “Bharat Mata” is the representation of the nation as a woman. It is said that the artist acquired the inspiration to create this masterpiece after the dreadful event of losing his mother at an extremely young age.
This is a marvelous animal painting from the era of abstract expressionism, Horses of the Sun which depicts Hussain’s constant theme of abstract paintings as a sign of portraying self-re-establishment and exuberance.
2. Raja Ravi Varma
(29 April 1848 – 2 October 1906)
Another great painter in the history of Indian art, Raja Ravi Verma has gained a huge respect through his unique fusion of European-Indian paintings, these exquisite pieces of art generally comprise of deep hidden societal issues in them. This is why his creations are beauty beyond imagination.
In view of his exceptional donation and devotion to the Indian Art, the Government of Kerala has established an award called “Raja Ravi Verma Puraskaram” a highly prestigious award handed over annually to people who depict brilliance and great calibre in the field of art and culture. A couple of his well-known works are “Shakuntala” and “Galaxy of Musicians”.
A beautiful epic painted by the master, which depicts Shakuntala a character from Mahabharata. Here, Shakuntala’s friends call her a false show since she made as if she’s removing a thorn stuck on her foot but actually, she is gazing at her husband Dushyanta, standing behind her.
The painting displays a group of domestic women from diverse backgrounds playing their traditional musical instruments, from the Muslim courtesan on the right to the Nair women on the left. This masterpiece emphasizes the dresses and adornments of women from all over India. Depicting the extremity as well as the unity in diversity of India, Raja Ravi Verma has beautifully inculcated music as the binding element in the picture.
3. Tyeb Mehta
(25th July 1925 – 2nd July 2009)
Tyeb Mehta was an excellent painter, sculptor, and film-maker. He was one of India's most illustrious Modernist painters, famous for his strong use of customary national themes, powerful expressionistic style and vivid colours.
He started his career and spent most of it living in Mumbai where he explored himself in film making, and his documentary Koodal (1970) won a Filmfare Critics Award. He was also awarded with the Indian government’s Padma Bhushan in 2007. Some of his well-known works are “Celebration” and “Kali”.
This wonderful triptych painting was sold at Christie’s for US$300,000 in 2002, the highest price a modern Indian artwork has ever received in a public auction.
This melodramatic and unsettling artwork depicts the Hindu goddess Kali. It was made in 1997 and the work was sold in May 2005 for 10 million Indian rupees at Indian auction house Saffron art's online auction.
4. Amrita Sher-Gil
(30 January 1913 – 5 December 1941)
Amrita Sher-Gil has been referred as one of the groundbreaking female artists of the early 20th century. She was also a keen reader and a pianist. Sher-Gil's paintings were way ahead of its time and are among the most high-priced amongst the Indian women painters today.
She had lived her childhood in numerous areas of India and Europe, and had been subjected to diverse cultural backgrounds, due to which she had imbibed a deep interpretation of artistic styles and traditions. Some of her famous artworks include “Tribal Women” and “Young girls”
This outstanding piece of art won a Gold Medal at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society in 1937. The painting shows three brightly coloured dressed women scrutinizing a destiny that is not in their hands. Amrita Sher-Gil never intended to corrupt her women rather depicted them as struggling through misadventures even so having the courage to outshine their ill-fate.
Young Girls is a painting that she made while still a student and she was awarded with a Gold Medal at the Grand Salon in 1933. Here Amrita’s sister Indira sits on the left dressed in sophisticated European attire, while the somewhat unclad figure in the focus is a French companion, Denise Proutaux.
5. Syed Haider Raza
(22 February 1922 – 23 July 2016 )
S. H Raza was born in Madhya Pradesh, he was an Indian painter who lived and worked in France since 1950, while continuing well-built relations with his home country, India.
He often used to explore with the drifts of Western Modernism, starting from Expressionist modes he shifted towards greater abstraction and finally inculcated elements of Tantrism drawn from Indian sacred writings. His most renowned works include, “Bindu” and “Saurashtra”.
Depicting a mix of two of his widely famous styles of painting, the fist his gestural strokes, and second being his Abstractionism.
One of his most famous paintings, Bindu is basically the idea of Shunya in India culture. It depicts the relevance of nothingness, as it has the strength to become anything and add worth when fixed next to something.
6. Jamini Roy
(11 April 1887 – 24 April 1972 )
He was another marvel in the field of fine arts, born into a middle-class family of land-owners in Beliatore village of the Bankura district, West Bengal. Roy started as a portrait painter. With regards to the middle-class section of the society, he reflected on his critical views and emphasized that ordinary people were more eminent part of the society than governments, as they represent his art. He was awarded with a Viceroy's gold medal in an all India exhibition for one of his work in 1935, and in 1955 he received a Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. Some of his famous masterpieces include “Mother and Child” and “Dual cats with one crayfish”.
This masterpiece that shows the mother nursing her child at her breast, depicts the love and affection that any relationship of a mother with her child is bound to have.
One of the most admired and skillful paintings by Jamini Roy, here the two cats who hold one crayfish in their mouths. The painting reflects vivid imagination, unconventional drawing and radiant colours.
7. Francis Newton Souza
(12 April 1924 – 28 March 2002 )
Francis Newton Souza was born in Goa, India. He was one of the initial artists from a newly independent India to receive recognition on an international level. he co-established the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) in Mumbai in1947.
His forte was comprehensive and cross disciplinary, essentially expressionist in its character, but also emphasizing upon the post-war raw art movements. His most well received works were mostly Landscapes and expressionistic paintings.
Head in a Landscape realizes in a single painting the creative impetus of Souza’s most formative decade. It is the culmination both in subject and technique of a master at the height of a period recognized as his creative zenith. Painted in 1958, the year Souza was selected to represent Great Britain in the Guggenheim International Award exhibition, this work marks a major milestone in Souza's artistic career.
While living in Europe, Souza established his uniqueness which was an amalgamation of Western and Eastern styles of art. He was perceived to be inspired by a wide range of sources like the Spanish Romanesque painting, the work of European Old Masters, tribal art from Africa, European Modernism, and Catholicism etc.
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Ananya Singh @ Skyshot Media