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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
|Pahari art and values
In this chapter I
will make a comparative analysis of the difference in the psyche of the artists of yore
and the artists who practice Pahari schools of art today.
Here I will try to elaborate how far these traditional forms of art are connected with the
lives of the artists in different time frames.
The change in socio-economic values greatly influence the viewpoints of the artists. The
artists, of old, whose traditional values reigned supreme in a society that was not
influenced by modern western values and was not under the pressure of the fast life style,
it was more natural and easier to the practice the Pahari schools of art in a spontaneous
For them, the life with costumes and the philosophy that they depicted was
"contemporary", as all this was the reflection of their own time and life style
in their environment.
Since the people and places they depicted coincided with the people and places they saw
themselves, innovation in this traditional form came much easier to them.
Even when depicting scenes from Krishnalila of from other mythological tales, they used
their own "contemporary" settings and styles to present the themes.
The most important of all, they believed in what they painted and it is quite evident that
the mythological figures with religious importance were painted with deep faith.
Their life moved at a much slower pace, and though they had to please their patrons with
their work, and depended on their patrons for their livelihood, they never aimed at
becoming rich with "career success" through their art.
This is a basic difference indeed with the artists of today, whether they practice
traditional or contemporary forms of art.
When a human being is able to take on life at his or her own pace, life has a different
meaning, that the person used to the fast life of modern times will not understand.
This basic fact reflected in the diversity of the subjects of pahari art schools that were
attempted and tackled with success even within the limitations of decorative art forms.
The artists who are copying from published books or art plates for the sole purpose of
marketing them to make money, can rarely, if ever understand the mentality of the artists
Financial success is the main objective of the artists who practice these art forms in
repetitive manner and the modern life style with the a abundance of illusionary needs have
changed the view points of the artists now.
The marketing possibilities of Indian traditional forms of art in India and abroad, from
direct transaction or through the internet have increased the expectations of the artists
The old days of slow and simple life of the artists of yore whose main objective was to
immerse in the joy of creativity will not return again.
In the olden days when there were much less diversions such as television, cinema or
magazine, the traditional art forms had a special attention from the people of those days.
Each picture had much more individual attention from the appreciative people. The attitude
to evaluate art in terms of money have affected the artists in modern times and those who
practice Pahari art are no exception today.
This distortion of values have spread in the art world, whether traditional or
The timehonoured traditional artist, with straight forward and simple life style,
satisfied with what they could enjoy, having deep faith in Almighty have passed in to the
pages of history.
In general, he or she who learns Pahari painting today has an entirely different mindset,
with different aspirations, that fit in with the "modern" values of life quite
Yet, when a traditional form develop with a traditional philosophy, a far greater
dimension is achieved.
Institutions have been opened by the Government of Himachal to teach Pahari painting, yet
I do not expect that dimension of the artists of olden times, who showed innovative
excellence within the limitations of stylistic perimeter to be recreated ever again.
Prabal Pramanik ©
(from the published book
"My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2