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Balkishan Jhumat - Sikh Guru Art

Indian art in the late sixteenth century took on a radical leap forward. This was in the reign of Akbar ‘The Great’. He had a passion for the arts, and placed great emphasis on the study and practice of painting. He was fascinated by other religions and welcomed religious leaders, scholars, artists and physicians, to make sense of the world and the glory of God as the ‘Creator.’ The Indian and Iranian concept of multiple perspectives in art, was further developed to near perfection. This was also the time of the ‘Renaissance’ ideals of high art in the western world. Akbar introduced western art to his court. Indian art took on a more linear approach. Accuracy of the human figure in ‘true proportion’ became a deciding factor, in the art of the mughal court. Buddhist, Jain, Hindu art, with attention to decoration, colour, and high detail, was infused with the mughal art concept. Akbar’s workshops were vast, employing hundreds of artists. Experimentation with watercolour pigments, binding agents, papers, and methods of tracing, enabled artists to create masterpieces, that rivalled European high art. Schools of art appeared all over India, each with their own styles and disciplines. The school of Bijapur towards the south, created art for the Shah’s, that was on an equal with northern India. This golden age of Indian painting, that began in the late sixteenth century, is and has always been an inspiration, and a romantic fascination, for me. For many years I wanted to see if I could emulate the great master painters of that age. Artists with a comprehensive knowledge of perspectives, optics/lenses, colour, light and tone. This is why I began my series of Sikh art paintings. I wanted to integrate everything that I have learned about Indian art, with my own creative style and discipline. My fascination with Sikh art of the Punjab, began when I was quite young. I had been intrigued by the richness of colour, and decoration, that adorned the figures in the foreground and the romantic landscapes and dreamy vista’s, that formed the background. I had this desire to paint the ‘Guru’ as I imagined them to be. My series on Sikh art, has given me the opportunity to draw the guru’s in appropriate clothing, of that period of Indian history. I used period head dress and ornamentation, jewellery, weapons etc. I used elements of fantasy for the landscapes, cloud formations, flora and fauna. The combination of my passionate study into Mughal art, with my own creative discipline, to produce this series of Sikh art paintings, has been a perfect and beautiful synthesis. Balkishan Jhumat.

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