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Prabal Pramanik's Academy of Arts
Bhamlada, Punjab -145 022, India
Mobile : 09417735631/09417170998
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2
|Compositional aspects of Pahari art
Every school of art
has its compositional distinctions. So Pahari schools of art have their own compositional
attributes and characteristics.
Though Pahari schools of art were born out of Rajasthani paintings and Persian miniature
paintings, the compositional balance of Pahari painting is different to the compositional
balance of Rajasthani schools and Persian schools of miniature paintings, though there are
Mughal paintings and Persian paintings, except when making portraits, are not so
"Pahari paintings" except in certain cases are mainly foreground oriented. The
principal figures are placed more or less in foreground of the composition except in some
court scenes, and even then the setting is different.
There is difference in the division space too, and the horizon is often in a curve line in
Pahari paintings, when it is depicted.
This is due to a phenomenon in reality. If you look at the horizon flanked by hills from
the valley, (for example Kangra valley) the horizon does look curved.
Undoubtedly the artists who created those original compositions noticed this and often
painted the horizon in this way.
The desire to fill in as many details as possible in the miniature format left the factor
of suggestively unexplored in Pahari schools of art.
For me, suggestively as a compositional factor is important, but here we find that the
artists did perhaps not even think of this factor, of suggestivity which makes the blank
The orientation of the angle of appreciation of the viewers influence the artists,
especially when they have to sell their art works and the people who bought and buy the
Pahari miniatures, expect a set format that is filled in with the maximum amount details
without any room for suggestivity.
Colour plays an important role in compositions, and the arrangement of contrasting colours
is important in the layout of Pahari paintings.
The paintings are in opaque tempera technique, so colours flowing into one another
creating a merging effect that we find in water colours is not found here.
The artists carefully chose the colours that created pleasant contrasts. Monsoon clouds
instead of merging into one another were painted in flat shades of grey and black, one
overlapping the other.
The paints were and are very often applied in an uniformly flat manner reminding of poster
colour compositions but by the excellency of the decorative motifs the lyrical beauty
imparted by the decorative pieces even with the flat application of colour by far exceeds
the appeal of colour composition of posters.
Pahari miniature proves that flat application of colour can effectively create an
aesthetic appeal at times. I have noted that the quality of the works varied immensely due
to the individual skills of the artists practicing this form of art.
These paintings on miniature formats with so many details are ment to be observed from
close quarters. A magnifying glass is a great help when appreciating and discovering
details of Pahari paintings.
It is important to note that borders are a part of the painting composition in Pahari
The decorative nature of these art works indicate that the paintings would look incomplete
without the borders.
Prabal Pramanik ©
(from the published book
"My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2