A new generation of artists being trained in the traditional school of Kangra Art will now get an opportunity to exhibit their works in Mayfair – in the heart of London. Starting on the 20th of March, the paintings – produced by a new crop of artists from the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh – will be exhibited at the beautiful halls of the Nehru Centre close to the Hyde Park in London. The exhibition, to be held from the 20th to the 23rd of March, will be open to public for free. The ‘Kangra Arts Promotion Society’ and ‘Five Benches Society’ from Himachal Pradesh are bringing this exhibition to London. The State Bank of India in the UK is the main sponsor of the event.
The traditional Kangra Paintings represent one of the finest miniature painting styles from India. This great art form originated in a small hill state of ‘Guler’ in the Lower Himalayas in the first half of the eighteenth century, when a family of Kashmiri painters trained in the Mughal Style of painting, sought shelter at the court of Raja Dalip Singh (r. 1695-1741) of Guler. The new arrivers soon mingled with local artists and were greatly influenced by the atmosphere of the hills. Instead of painting flattering portraits of their masters or love-scenes, the artistes adopted themes of eternal love between Radha and Krishna. The paintings were naturalistic and employed cool, fresh colors. The colors were extracted from minerals, vegetables and possessed enamel-like luster. Verdant greenery of the landscape, brooks, springs et al were the recurrent images on the miniatures.
The distinctive feature of this exhibition is that it features the work of a new generation of artists, whom the Kangra Arts Promotion Society (KAPS) has been training in the traditional art form. Five Benches Society and KAPS believe that the exhibition will be a huge boost for this new generation of artists and will infuse new life into this beautiful and significant part of Himachali culture.
‘Five Benches’ is a not-for-profit society, working towards expanding the scope of literary and cultural discourse in Himachal and helping promote Himachali culture in different parts of the world. Kangra Arts Promotion Society has been running a miniature school on Kangra Paintings for the last 4 years in Dharamshala and has provided training to more than 15 artists till date.