Critical Art Theory Of Raja Ravi Varmas

However, it should be noted that Raja Ravi Varma was noted for this realistic depiction of scenes from epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. He was recognized as a painter who made a fusion between Indian and Western art forms in terms of academic art. His talents were highly recognized in the west because of the depictions of bright colors and stylishly postured women in the sari. One such recognition came in 1873 with the Vienna Art Exhibition first prize. To the western world, he is regarded as one of the most prolific painters of the Indian tradition. But this could be termed as a bit exaggerated in the sense that during his time (1848- 1906) there were other stalwarts of the artists whose philosophies were not completely understood or conceptualized by the western art connoisseurs.
During the period Raja Ravi Verma was working the most prominent of his contemporary colleagues were Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy and Gopal Ghosh of the ‘Bengal School’. This was a school of thought process that was deeply influenced by the philosophic revival or renaissance of ancient Indian learning or values by the poet Rabindranath Tagore. These people choose subjects from both Indian history and mythology and juxtaposed them with the modern nationalist feeling of the time in the late 19th century. Their approach was guided by the philosophical essence of the philosophies of Hinduism with relevance to the political drifts and agitations against the British Raj in India. It was a form of painting with a mission of an extended approach of non-violence. (King, 2001, 143)
So much is narrated about the Bengal School because at the same given point of time Raja Ravi Verma’s approach towards painting was more religious than nationalist which stands a stark difference with his contemporary artists as he chooses to neglect the philosophical and the most important part of Hindu or Indian painting.
Religion and philosophy are completely two different aspects of the trade. The religion of Hinduism is supposed to be formulated at around BC 2500 with the advent of the Aryans into the Indian subcontinent. But the religion in the context of a Hindu is not so much faith but mostly a way of life. It could be safely mentioned that Hinduism does not speak of a specific faith or code of conduct but is basically an accumulation of various school of philosophical thoughts. Under this perspective, a Hindu is free to choose his mode of philosophy where even the existence of a God is not mandatory. There are six main schools of thoughts called "sadadarshan" within the parameter of a Hindu philosophical essence and four of these schools overlook the need of a God altogether. (Fletcher, 2003, 276)
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