The Connoisseur

Significance of Geometric Art in Indian Culture & History

geometric in art

At face value, the concepts of art and maths don’t go hand in hand. The former encapsulates freedom, a place for the imagination to run wild, whilst the latter is steeped in rigid forms, precise formulae and the unfortunate possibility of simply being ‘wrong’.

However, throughout Indian culture and history, the seemingly separate realms have shared more overlaps than one might imagine. Just scrolling through the plethora of original artworks on ‘The Connoisseur‘, one cannot help but gaze at the various forms, patterns and lines that inform the canvas! Take for example the paintings available for purchase below from the geometric collection:

These geometric paintings integrate various shapes, lines and spaces, creating both a sense of order and contrast. Talmale’s paintings are brilliant in colour. No shape embodies the same shade, with each block consisting of unique brushstrokes.

So, you might be asking, what exactly is ‘geometric art’ and what role does it play within Indian culture and history? We’re here to give you a quick guide to geometric art in India and to tell you why you should invest in geometric paintings today!

What is geometric art or geometric in art?

On a fundamental level, geometric art consists of artwork inspired by geometry. It often consists of points, lines, shapes and spaces that work together on a canvas in a multitude of styles. Its prevalence in art is widespread, with several movements such as Bauhaus, Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism, Suprematism, and many more, stemming from the use of geometry. However, geometric art has its own significance in Indian culture and heritage:

large colourful painting

1. Geometric Art and Spirituality

Islamic art uses geometry as a key tenet to connect the earthly with the divine. Arabesques were a key feature of Islamic art from the 9th century and are forms of art that use geometric shapes based on tendrils and foliage; they later emerged in Europe from the Renaissance onwards. Geometric designs are not only aesthetically pleasing, their sacred significance serves as a reminder of what lies beyond the material. For example, in Islamic art, circles are a reminder that Allah is infinite, as well as emphasising one god. The ability to replicate multiple geometric patterns also symbolise that the infinite and divine can be accessed through a single element or shape.

2. The Mughal Period

Geometric art thrived during The Mughal Empire (1526 -1761) and mainly appeared through elaborate architecture that consisted of a mixture of Islamic, Hindu and Persian influences. Regular geometric patterns were used to adorn marble floorings, balcony railings, as well as window grilles. Six and eight-point geometrical patterns can be found in early surviving buildings of the Mughal era, such as the Sher-Shah Mausoleum (1540-5 CE), as well as the Mausoleum of Humayun in Delhi (1556-66 CE). Six-point shapes such as a hexagon and a six-pointed star were commonly used as it is the easiest geometric pattern to construct using a compass.

The Journey Painting by Madan Lal

3. Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism was hugely significant in the post-independent era of Indian art. Abstract art was a movement that flourished during the 1960s and 1970s, characterised by a drive away from visual representation to expressions of the artist’s thoughts and emotions. This turn away from nature and the material world to the representational relies heavily on shapes, lines and colours to inform the canvas.

V.S. Gaitnode was a preeminent figure amongst Indian abstract artists. Despite Gaitnode rejecting the application of ‘abstract’ to his works, preferring ‘non-objective’ as a label, he is often considered a major pioneer of the abstract movement in India. A member of the Progressive Artists Group of Mumbai, he worked alongside leading artists of the time, creating several exhibitions on abstract art. Other famous geometric artists include Ram Kumar, S. H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Jagdish Swaminathan to name a few!

SH Raza (Geometric in art); image courtesy: Scroll

In Conclusion

Throughout Indian culture and history, geometry and art have been for the most part, inseparable. A shape as simple as a triangle can be steeped in spiritual significance whilst more modern, secular pieces also celebrate the unique, abstract expression envisioned by distinct artists. In any case, geometric paintings are a fabulous investment. Bold in colour and striking in their use of various forms, they are also undoubtedly visually appealing. Carefully balancing a sense of order with free-reign, geometric artwork can immediately upscale any mediocre space into a show-stopping sight.

Article by: Ms Joori Byun

The Connoisseur

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