Born into an aristocratic family from Travancore in the mid 19th century, who is known for his works depicting Hindu mythology using European styles?

homes were slowly inundated with colourful prints of deities and mythological figures — many of which could be traced back to the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Encouraged by the British to use western artistic techniques to reinterpret Indian mythology, Varma set in motion the creation of an Indian aesthetic that exists till date.

Varma was eager to paint from a young age, and his uncle encouraged this artistic inclination, persuading the Maharaja of Travancore to let him stay in the palace and learn from famous artists who visited the court. 

Art historian Geeta Kapur describes Varma as both a traditionalist and modernist. He grew up studying Sanskrit and orthodox scriptures, but took pleasure in experimenting with European drawing styles, exploring realism and using his scientific knowledge of perspective in landscapes and portraits.

His work in realism began as a portrait artist of mostly aristocratic women. He then delved into mythological paintings inspired by Puranic texts, and later narrative paintings after being influenced by Parsi and Marathi theatre in Bombay.


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Born in Coimbatore, which abstract painter founded the Chola-mandal, Artist Village, a Chennai landmark today, in the 1960s?

Many anniversaries occasioned the volume of Paniker, published by Artworld in 2016 – the fortieth death anniversary of KCS Paniker, a widely influential painter, the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publishing house and Chennai’s oldest gallery Artworld, as well as the fiftieth anniversary of Cholamandal Artists’ Village – the Chennai landmark that Paniker helped found.

Paniker was born in Coimbatore in 1911 and spent his childhood in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He studied art at the Government School of Arts, Madras, and was appointed as a teacher there after graduation. By 1944 he had established the Progressive Painters’ Association, that enabled artists to exhibit all over India, and later, London.

Before he retired, Paniker made a contribution to the Chennai cultural scene which he will forever be remembered for – he founded the the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, a 10-acre plot of land composed of studios, permanent collections, workshops, and guesthouses for visiting artists, all built by artists themselves.


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Born in Mysuru in 1921, which Ramon Magsaysay Award-recipient was the creator of the iconic Common Man?

Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman or as we call him RK Laxman was born on this day in Mysore in 1921. An Indian cartoonist and illustrator who took most of his inspiration from the common man’s life and aspirations, his works are appreciated by people belonging to each age group.

His cartoons and caricatures have become synonymous as the means to define the Indian landscape in simple terms. His first job as a cartoonist was for The Free Press Journal in Mumbai. Later in 1951, he joined The Times of India and worked there for nearly five decades. Best remembered for his creation of ‘The Common Man’ and the daily cartoon strip ‘You Said It’, his witty style has made him occupy a special place in our memories.

For his remarkable contributions in his field, he has been conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 1973, Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1984 and Padma Vibhushan in 2005. He received the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism by CNN-IBN TV18 in 2008.

Although the maestro passed away in 2015, his bespectacled dhoti-clad protagonist continues to represent India and its many idiosyncrasies.


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Hailing from a town near Solapur in Maharashtra, who is considered one of the India’s greatest modern painters and was once described by Forbes magazine as “the Picasso of India”?

India's greatest painter of modern times, the snowy-haired and bearded, barefoot Maqbool Fida Husain -- who died in self-exile in London four years ago – is a forgotten figure on his birth centenary 

Renowned equally for his artistry and eccentricities, the internationally acclaimed artist is credited with catapulting Indian art to the world arena -- though he was hounded by a spate of controversies virtually all his life.

Once hailed as India's 'Pablo Picasso' by the Forbes magazine, Husain is largely remembered among the Indian masses for his paintings depicting prancing horses, women subjects, historical figures and nude paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses, besides other events.

His portrayal of horses with their "tremendous lines and the majestic way that the horses held their heads high" - as Sotheby's specialist in South Asian modern and contemporary art Priyanka Mathew once said - were held amongst his most sought after and highly-priced collections.

It was way back in the 1930s that the tall, young Husain rejected a prospective job as a tailor's assistant to paint cinema hoardings in Mumbai for a paltry 25-35 paise per square foot -- and this ultimately proved to be his art school, college and university.

Earning recognition quickly, he joined, in 1948, the famous artist F.N. Souza's Progress Artists Group, a conglomeration of aspiring young painters with a desire to create an Indian version of modernist art in those struggling days of India as a newly-independent country.


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A noted painter and sculptor from Mirpur in Bengal, who was the founder chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi?

Debi Prasad Roy Choudhury MBE (1899–1975) was an Indian sculptor, painter and the founder chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi. He was known for his bronze sculptures, including Triumph of Labour and Martyr's Memorial, and is rated by many as one among the major artists of modern Indian art.

Roy Choudhury was born on 15 June 1899 at Tejhat, in Rangpur in the undivided Bengal of the British India (presently in Bangladesh), and did his academic studies from home. He learnt painting from Abanindranath Tagore, the renowned Bengali painter, and his earlier paintings showed influence of his teacher. Turning to sculpting, he initially trained under Hiromony Choudhury, and later, moved to Italy for further training. It was during this period, his works started to gather western influences. Returning to India, he joined the Bengal School of Art for further studies. In 1928, he moved to Chennai to join the Government College of Fine Arts, first as a student and then worked there as the Head of the Department, vice principal and the principal till his retirement in 1958. 

In 1958, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan, the third highest Indian civilian honour. He received the Lalit Kala Akademi Fellowship in 1962 and, six years later, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, honoured him with DLitt (honoris causa), in 1968. Choudhury, who was married to Dolly, died on 15 October 1975, aged 76.


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