Indian art encompasses work produced across the entire Indian subcontinent; this includes India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and eastern Afghanistan. In both its modern and traditional forms, Indian art is characterised by a strong sense of design. Art forms include painting, textiles, pottery and sculpture.
Understanding Indian art’s rich history can help us understand its modern form. Dating back to settlements in the 3rd millennium BC, Indian art was influenced by the major religions and has a prevailing early style shared by all major religious groups. Sculpture in stone and metal provide some of the best surviving examples of ancient Indian art as these materials have proved the most resilient to the Indian climate.
The Bhimbetka rock shelters in central India display some of the earliest Indian painting examples. At 30,000 years old, the shelters are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Common characteristics of these paintings are a red wash formed from iron oxide and depictions of human and animal life and hunting.
Modern Indian art also shows an interest in the depiction of human life, perhaps inspired by historic art traditions. Cry, painted by Manu Parekh in 1990, was inspired by the Bhagalpur blindings, when acid was poured into the eyes of defendants by the Indian police. The bright, throbbing red of Parekh’s canvas contrasts with the shocked, ashen face of the victim.
Cry is just one painting which features on India’s first online art auction platform. Prinsep’s is a research focussed company with a passion for India’s art and heritage; it aims to explore the depth of emotion behind modern Indian art and make it globally accessible. Prinsep’s online auctions are open to global buyers and collectors in a bid to bring Indian art into the mainstream.
Indrajit Chatterjee is one of Prinsep’s entrepreneurs. He believes in the importance of Indian art as part of India’s culture and hopes to make it more inclusive to collectors all over the world. The company’s reputation relies on it offering a transparent service to global art collectors. Managing Director of Oak Management AS Joey Horn is based between Norway and the US but is an avid collector of Indian art.
Buying art may still be viewed as elitist but Prinsep’s aims to challenge this attitude by focussing on the art form rather than its price tag. Lowering prices is a way of servicing the collector and making art more accessible; it should not be a sign of a piece’s lesser value. Prinsep’s will also be the first auction house in India to sell prints of artists’ work in its bid to bring Indian art into the mainstream.