The Glorious Past: A Heritage Of Art Sustained

The regal language of design is most profound in art. The royals nurtured in their courts, a battery of artists who spent their entire lives chronicling the queen and the king’s glorious lifestyle through their arts. His lover was painted sitting next to a slender lotus, herself as beautiful as the proverbial flower. His conquests at war became the subject of a miniature series. Their gods was brought alive in full regalia, while her beauty became the subject of many a symbolic art, and the family, a doting subjects for portraiture.
Miniature art played the role that photographs do today: recording historic moments. Each family had a favoured master artist. Like Nihal Chand, who flourished in the palace of Kishangarh, devising his own style of miniature art that glorified the royal family’s beloved deity: Lord Krishna. In Rajasthan, paintings with delicate detailing, a vibrancy of colours and a hint of gold and precious stones flourished. Besides frescoes on the wall that brought alive the fabled Shekhawati region, where all the affluent Marwari business homes hail from.
The hill kingdoms of Kashmir, Chamba and Kangra brought the simplicity of the mountains in their form of miniatures. The Kangra Kalam mingled Mughal influences with the simplicity of the local artists who were greatly influenced by the atmosphere of the hills.
The artistes adopted themes of eternal love between Radha and Krishna. This style reached its zenith during the reign of Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch, who was a great patron of Kangra art. An ardent devotee of Krishna, he used to commission artists to paint subjects based on the love and life of Krishna. Up in the Kashmir valley, another school of art flourished: The Nal Damayanti series that personified this fabled love, connecting it to the love of Gods. The Nal Damayanti series were recently chronicled in a book penned by Dr Karan Singh, His Highness, The Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, and his artist daughter, Princess Jyotsana Singh.
Hill art was simplicity personified. The colours were extracted from minerals, vegetables and possessed enamel-like lustre. Verdant greenery of the landscape, brooks and springs were the recurrent images on the hill miniatures. Nainsukh, master of this style, introduced a distinctive vocabulary, which combined Mughal elements with personal innovations.
It was also a tale told simply, deep in the Chambal ravines, where flourished a romance with tribal art. The Jhabua kings encouraged Gond artists to evolve their form of art that graced their mud walls. Rich in detail, colour, mystery and humor, these tribal artworks were recently brought to brilliance by Jangarh Singh Shyam, who was the first Gond artist to use paper and canvas. Gond art spoke of life with the innate simplicity of the forests.
At Royal Fables scions of all these art histories present an evolved and modernized version of their art legacy. There is Princess Vaishnavi Kumari, who takes the lovable cows out of her Pichwais and sets them against very pop art backgrounds. She presents pichwais of rare reverence. As well as paintings that glorify Shrinathji.
Nandini, the Princess of Jhabua and her little cousin Kunwar Jaivardhan Singh Raghogarh, bring alive a modern vocabulary of tribal, Islamic and abstract art. All symbolic of the Chambal valley they hail from.
Tikaraaj Ashwarya Katoch from Kangra-Lambragaon presents miniatures crafted delicately at the Sansar Chand Museum founded by him in reverence of his ancestor. Besides, there are a few canvases from his Contemporary Kangra Collection.
Elements and symbols of a regal life also engage the creative outpourings of certain royals. Like the petite, shy and beautiful Vidita Singh from Barwani who gets inspired by her father, Manvender Singh’s magical journey with vintage cars. While he brings these cars back to their past glory, Vidita captures them on canvas in her Motor Art Series.
Vikramaditya Singh from Rajasthan and Aanjaneya Singh from Orissa paint and photograph wildlife to brilliance as Kartikeye Singh of Sandur captures birds in flight in his camera.