For some reason I have steered clear of Indian concept of art ! I have seen and admired Indian miniatures but have not formed an intimate relationship with it! Having been trained in western art , somehow the decorative aspect of traditional Indian art seemed a little foreign to me! It is funny that your own can seem so alien! A recent visit to Boston MFA made me realize the scope of what goes under the term" Indian Art".
Most of the time when we talk about the Indian Folk Art , it means pictures/statues made in Indian villages, by both men and women, mostly for decorative purposes.The so called Indian Folk Art were generally made by family of painters who have been working at the profession for generations. I don't think there was any concept of individuality! It was a family business, that's all! That is not to say that they lacked signature style.There was always a marked difference between different workshops and the "master" painter ruled the roost. Most of the time the master painter also turned out to be the male head of the family.
Not only the quality of work differed from workshop to workshop but it also depended on the history, sociology and geography of the regions it was produced. The art produced in Gujarat is markedly different from that of Bengal. To some extent their style and quality depended on the materials available in the place in which they were executed And these very factors help us to identify them region wise. And yet, through all the apparent diversity there runs an underlying unity which makes them 'Indian'.
The paintings or miniatures that I saw in Boston cannot be called "local art" though! They were specifically made for the nobility and the court!Best painters from different regions were brought to the court and their work styles were infused together to make what is called the 'court art' .Of course the craftsmanship improved under the royal tutelage. Not only the best artists were employed for producing these works but the materials and the time spent on these works were exceptional! Nothing short of finest silk and gold leafing were used to produce these works.
Anyhow , my point is that I feel guilty that I have neglected Indian art for so long! Now that I am really "looking" I can see the influence of "Kalighat" school of painting in works by Picasso and Gris. Works by Klimt also borrowed heavily from Indian art. These painters ignored perspective, used color for its own sake or for symbolic purposes and had freely distorted and modified the human form-just like the Indian traditional paintings!