“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

 -Pablo Picasso

In my school days, art used to be one of the few subjects that I didn’t loathe and this quote by Pablo Picasso explains so much why. It makes sense that as a writer, I wasn’t gifted with the capability to master mathematics or to find science any appealing. Art was what disconnected me from the world I was forced to live in and help me transcend into the world of words, where I was meant to be.

However, in my country, India, which is one amongst the reckoned epicenters of art and culture; the art industry suffers greatly. Yes, there are artists from my homeland who have acclaimed massive success becoming a part of the international society of elite artists and art lovers; but what opportunity does a young artist with just a talent and a paintbrush in his hands has when even our government failed to resurrect the Indian art market that collapsed almost a decade back.

Education & Opportunities

After the great financial crisis of 2008, the size of the market further shrunk by 6% in 2017-2018 due to demonetization. The global share held by India’s art industry is approximately 0.5% while China leads with a whopping 40%. Another shocking fact that I came across was that a massive 90% of our art market comes under the Indian contemporary art segment. Remove that and our country’s art industry is insignificant to even our economy.

It is utterly disrespectful to artists who have been dabbling into traditional arts and paintings for all their lives. There are very few art galleries and museums who promote traditional paintings and it is really surprising for a country that is known for its rich cultural heritage. Even in an online art gallery, you can hardly find a section of traditional paintings; thankfully, virtual art galleries like Indian Art Ideas are celebrating some amazing works in the traditional genre.

For a country of 133 crores, the net worth of our art industry is laughable; considering it’s just a few million dollars. The reason behind this is the fact that the country is home to really few art schools and except for the elite ones that charge students enormously; others are crumbling down with the lack of infrastructural facilities, education professionals, and even basic amenities.

How can we expect young talent to flourish in the dearth of education and career opportunities? India doesn’t lack talent, it never did, it never will, what it lacks is recognition and respect for the traditional genre of art. Globally artists, fashion designers, and the who’s who of Hollywood are finding inspiration in the colorful agglomeration of our traditional paintings and artworks while we fail to give our artists the due recognition.

Museums & Galleries

Even our country’s infrastructure to accommodate art is pathetic because we have just 40 museums while our neighboring country, China thrives with as many as 400 museums. The art galleries, except for that of notable artists remain empty with no visitors and buyers and negligible media coverage. The reason why China is investing heavily in the art industry and promoting it is that it considers it as a pillar industry that can support the economy.

India needs to recognize the fact that art and artists need to be supported and promoted to reclaim its place as one amongst the major contributor to the global art scene. The value of our culture and artistry needs to be appreciated and celebrated, considering that a lot of ingenious talent lurks in the shadows of slums and places that will never open up the path to global success.

In the quaint towns, villages, and even the suburbs of India, you can witness an intriguing blend of raw talent and art like never before. It is like the darker it gets, the uncut diamonds waiting to be discovered shine brighter with a single ray of hope to one day make it and shine through their adversities. It’s a shame that such talent withers in the lack of opportunities, education, and recognition.

Fashion World Finds Indian Art Inspiring

As aforementioned, the international fashion scene is heavily influenced by the cultural heritage and art of our country. Whether it is Hermes Spring Summer 2008 or Louis Vuitton Diwali Collection 2010, artists like Jean Paul Gaultier have embraced our colors and culture to create showstoppers that charmed fashion lovers all across the globe.

However, it isn’t that all these designs and collections, as well as the inspiration to create them, is new to the fashion world. Designers have been drawing inspiration from not just our culture but also our art, ever since exotic became synonymous to India in the western world. It may sound derogatory to some people because it often feels like the western world is alienating us but on the brighter side, we are so new and refreshing to them that we even inspire what they wear.

Bottom Line

What I really want to convey through this piece of content is that the legacy that has shaped and endured our place in the world shouldn’t get lost amidst the pressure to keep up with technology and science. No doubt that science, technology, and business are leading us to become one amongst the most powerful economies of the world but without art, we as a culture and a country would lose our authenticity. We need to be the cheerleaders for our famous Indian painters alive and not let them lose against the artists of countries that really put in efforts to keep their traditions and art alive.

Art is how we keep traditional and cultural values alive, it is the window that the world can peek in to see us as a country and a society. If we failed to do so, we wouldn’t leave what our ancestors left for us, a rich heritage. While we reward the innovators and the performers; let’s not forget our dreamers, who paint life on canvas, who enamor us and compel us to see the world with a new perspective.