YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT OUR OTHER WEB SITES
Prabal Pramanik's Academy of Arts
Bhamlada, Punjab -145 022, India
Mobile : 09417735631/09417170998
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2
|Perspective in Pahari Painting
Perspective is an
important part of any composition, as it gives an illusion of depth, a concept that makes
the viewer that the painting goes deeper than the surface on which it has been painted.
When painting a picture, the artist observes a re-representation of reality.
This re-representation of reality the artist observes according to his or her own
orientation and aesthetic conception.
The orientation and aesthetic conception differs from age to age and from place to place.
When appreciating any art work we must keep the concept of "time frame" in mind.
We must also understand that the concept of aesthetic appeal differed according to place
When appreciating "Pahari art schools" this vital fact has to be considered, as
it is important when taking in to account any other art school or even absolutely
contemporary forms of art.
The artists often painted in traditional schools or styles of art without breaking the
accepted compositional format.
The accepted compositional formats had set ways of indicating depth.
The painters of Pahari art schools through their acceptance of the set compositional
forms, depicted the aspect of perspective in a way that suited their decorative styles on
the miniature formats or on larges areas of wall paintings.
Multiple dimension perspective was used in Pahari schools of art. In the same composition,
visual, isometric and two dimensional or flat perspectives were used.
The use of several types of perspective to illustrate different objects in the same
composition was queer indeed, but it was very much suitable for this type of painting and
the over all effect is of a pleasant harmony.
Since each object, whether, a tree, flower, a pot, architecture, animals or humans
received attention with the depiction of minute details in these miniatures, the
perspective of separate objects often varied.
The carpet on which the prince or the queen sat, may be shown in be in isometric
perspective while the background may be showing some form of visual perspective.
The isometric perspective of the carpet allowed the artist to depict the design of the
carpet in maximum detail while elementary visual perspective of the background gave some
idea of recedence.
Some times the architectural portions shown in the foreground had some sort of visual
perspective. I say "some sort" as the individual portion of architecture may
have a perspective effect which was not really visual perspective as it would be wrong to
assume that the depiction would fall in the mathematics of visual perspective, but some
recedence was attempted at times.
It is quite clear that the artists of Pahari schools of art did not know the mathematics
of visual perspective as we see in western art and in the art influenced by western art.
These artists were more or less content with the decorative presentations of details in
their paintings. This set mind form has been passed on from generation to generation in
this repetitive form of art.
Any new experimentation with perspectives in Pahari schools of art is rare indeed as the
artists rarely wanted to break away from the time tested path.
The easiest way to depict distant object was to make them smaller. Since the hills were
the back ground often, full smaller figures could be depicted in detail at successive
The stylized depiction of the horizon and the mountains did not leave much for space for
experimentation or innovation in the aspect of the depiction of landscape in these schools
A passion for details often obliterated or pushed back other aspects of aesthetics in
Pahari schools of art.
The two dimentional or flat perspective was widely used as it gave a large area for
detail. In Basholi school of Pahari painting this two dimentional perspective has been
very widely used.
The figures in the foreground were most often in two dimentional or flat forms. in later
forms some times elimentary shading effects can be perceived and I think this is due to
same exposure to European art the artists of Pahari schools of art may have had at the end
of nineteenth or the beginning of twentieth century.
Yet, the artists of Pahari schools of art cared little about the light and shadow effect.
Shadows of trees human beings or objects are elementary or even nonexistent.
The play of highlight and depth, that create the
three dimentional effect on faces hands and on the background landscapes was little known
or unknown to the artists of Pahari schools of art. The artists of yore who innovated
the basic compositions that were followed by later artists and "copy masters",
faced several challenges when placing so many details on a small format. As the area
for the application of paint was very limited, and so many details had to be included in
the small area, the division of positive and negative spaces had to be done in a very
Since the old compositional forms were successful the later artists rarely if ever could
experiment with the compositions beyond the level of regrouping figures.
I have seen no major break through in Pahari art forms from the traditional setups.
For this reason, I doubt whether the opening of training centers for Pahari paintings at
some museums in Himachal Pradesh will ever revive this art in the innovative aspect, and
the repetitive copy work style is likely to limit the creative aspect from nil to basic
As long as just money making remains the main objective of those who learn Pahari art
today, I can not expect any thing better in this aspect.
The creative strength of the artists who worked and innovated in the olden days in Pahari
art is not likely to be seen again yet the older compositions have left a treasure house
for future generations to marvel at.
Yet, I would say that within the stylistic boundaries the artists of yore of Pahari
schools of art created pieces of art that have their own place in the cultural history of
Prabal Pramanik ©
(from the published book
"My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2