Society has, for millennia, used art in its various forms to record its history, give testimony to its culture, enhance its religion and express its identity. As the community evolves and experiences developments, technological advances or changes in its climate and location, its art necessarily changes to reflect this altered lifestyle of the individuals (i.e. the communities and the artists that live in them) as well as of the society as a whole.

Indian art is usually ornate and elaborate, even appearing somewhat “over the top”. In fact, this art is characterised by an indulgence in freedom of expression to the extreme, over-emphasising certain styles and elements with very little restriction placed on medium, subject or scale. This tendency is one of the defining features of Indian art that has remained through the ages.

When examining the different pieces of art still available, four main periods can be identified. The Ancient Period extended from about 3500 BCE (Before our Common Era) to 1200 CE (Common Era), the Islamic Ascendancy Period was from 712
Image of wood carving of lord Krishna
Ancient male Goddess lord Krishna in wood
to 1757, followed by the Colonial Period, which lasted until 1947. Finally, the Independence and Postcolonial Period refers to the time from 1947 to the present.

There are various types of art for which India is known and that local artists use to express themselves and convey ideas in new ways.

Some of the first pieces of Indian art have been carved into wood and stone or painted on rock faces. The Buddhists began the major trend towards artistic monuments, although there had been sculptures etc... before that (according to written records). The Buddhists began by carving images into the rock faces in caves, and many of the religions and cultures imitated this trend.

Another style of Indian art is that of Indian Fresco, which involves making a paste from limestone and painting this onto stones. After a few days, this would set and the natural pigment would create an image of colours and depths that continue to fascinate art enthusiasts today. This method was used to create huge murals in temples, as seen in Pundarikapuram and Aymanam.

The folk art of India is one of the most varied in terms of materials used, subject matter and style. This art occurs in the forms of paintings, ceramic creations, metalwork, paper, weaving and even toys. In addition to these more traditional art forms, folk art also includes the dances, music and festivals that characterise certain religions or geographic areas, as these engender self-expression through a creative means. The wandering nomads were one of the most common creators of visual folk art. This art was enriched by their vast experience and deep spirituality. Significantly, the Taj Mahal is an iconic piece of folk art, and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

The art that was produced from the early- to mid-20th Century onwards is considered to be contemporary art. As technology advanced and resources increased, artists began to experiment with using different media, more subjects and influences from other countries in the world. This has led to an intriguing array of pieces that cannot rightly be places in one category or genre. Rather, they are characterised by their diversity and the adventurous approach to portraying ideas, ideals and personal creativity.

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