Colourful Indian Popular art

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Neon green, bright orange, Rani pink, turquoise blue- bring on the COLOUR, we are Indians! Our temples, our clothes and our temperaments are decidedly colourful – we even marry off our brides in red
....and have an entire festival dedicated to colour.
Our films are a cornucopia of emotions, we like our comedy, tragedy, romance and thrills in one go And when we eat instead of sequential courses- ours is a spread that brings it all together
I needed to give this overview to context the brilliant unabashed colour that is now going to hit your eye :) Welcome to Indian popular art!

This is stuff that we’ve seen lining the pavements, as posters and wall calenders- The gods we worship are illustrated thus :

" Roadside display of poster and calendar art (Daryaganj, Delhi, 2000)"

"Dhanya Lakshmi. The goddess of wealth with tractor and tube-well in the background, signs of industrial agrarian prosperity.(Artist: Sapar Brothers, Publisher unknown)."

"Ya Ghaus-e Azam: a woman pays her homage to the shrine of Saint Abdul Qadir Jilani in Baghdad (Iraq) who is considered in high esteem by all Sufis in South Asia. The devotee wears typically north Indian dress while the saint’s miracles (of saving a drowning boat and others) are seen in the backdrop. It rare to see an Indian poster showing the persona of a saint.Artist: unknown, Publisher: Brijbasi, date: circa 1990"

When I was putting together this post I came across a site: Tasveerghar and a book on Indian popular art. 'India Bazaar' ( by Taschen Publications) is this beautiful book filled with posters, packaging, advertisements and calendars done in the inimitable Indian poster style. The Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati

The Favourite Elephant headed god, Lord Ganesha in an earlier illustration & a current version
Freedom Fighters all. Posters and charts- M.K Gandhi to the left and the many freedom fighters across generations
Firecracker packaging featuring Indian film stars to the left & a boy and girl illustrated in a style from the 60s.

"Tasveer Ghar is a trans-national virtual “home” for collecting, digitizing, and documenting various materials produced by South Asia’s exciting popular visual sphere including posters, calendar art, pilgrimage maps and paraphernalia, cinema hoardings, advertisements, and other forms of street and bazaar art." Tasveerghar is the place on the net to check out a serious and methodical approach to Indian popular art

A Hindi Film star Kajol used as decor on an Auto rickshaw

Filmposters with Muslim storylines. Note the predominant green.

Graphic design- Indian style.

There's a lot more which typically constitutes Indian popular art like 'Truck graphics& vehicle art' 'Signage graphics' 'Bollywood posters' but each of that will be a separate post :) Do tell me if you'd like to anymore in this space.

Images from GettyImages, IndiaBazaar, & Streetgraphics India.

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