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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The original Constitution, adopted on January 26 1950, was entirely handcrafted by the artists of Shantiniketan under the guidance of which Indian art exponent, hailing from Bihar?

The original Constitution of India, adopted on 26 January 1950, was not a printed document. It was entirely handcrafted by the artists of Shantiniketan under the guidance of Acharya Nandalal Bose, with the calligraphy texts done by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in Delhi. 

His genius and original style were recognized by famous artists and art critics like Gaganendranath Tagore, Ananda Coomaraswamy and O. C. Ganguli. These lovers of art felt that objective criticism was necessary for the development of painting and founded the Indian Society of Oriental Art.

He became principal of the Kala Bhavana (College of Arts) at Tagore's International University Santiniketan in 1922.

He was also famously asked by Jawaharlal Nehru to sketch the emblems for the Government of India's awards, including the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Shri. Along with his disciple Rammanohar, Nandalal Bose took up the historic task of beautifying/decorating the original manuscript of the Constitution of India.

He died on 16 April 1966 in Calcutta.

Today, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi holds 7000 of his works in its collection, including a 1930 black and white linocut of the Dandi March depicting Mahatma Gandhi, and a set of seven posters he later made at the request of Mahatma Gandhi for the 1938 Haripura Session of the Indian National Congress.

In 1956, he became the second artist to be elected Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, India's National Academy of Art. In 1954, Nandalal Bose was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.


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Born in West Bengal’s Burnpur, which painter and muralist is famous for her style-crossing religious-themed works and portraits, among others?

Anjolie Ela Menon (born 1940) is one of India's leading contemporary artists. Her paintings are in several major collections. In 2006 her work "Yatra" was acquired by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, California. Her preferred medium is oil on masonite, though she has also worked in other media, including glass and water colour. She is a well known muralist. She was awarded the Padma Shree in 2000. She lives and works in New Delhi.

Being a well-known muralist, Anjolie Ela Menon has done over 35 solo shows and many group shows in India and abroad and in 1968, 1972 & 1975 she performed along with I, II, III International Triennale by Lalit Kala Akademi, with Paris Biennale, France in 1980 and in 1980 at New York & Washington D.C.

In the year 2000, Government of India conferred Anjolie Ela Menon with the most prestigious Padma Shri Award. She is on the board of trustees in IGNCA             (Gandhi National Centre for the Arts). In 2002, her work was shown in a major exhibition event at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai which eventually toured other towns including Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi. Her life and work has been featured in several publications and films made for CNN and Doordarshan Channels.


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A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, which artist from Madhya Pradesh co-founded the revolutionary Progressive Artists’ Group in 1947?

Sayed Haider Raza (22 February 1922 – 23 July 2016) was an Indian painter who lived and worked in France since 1950, while maintaining strong ties with India. He was born in Babaria, Central Provinces, British India, which is now present-day Madhya Pradesh.

He was a renowned Indian artist. He was awarded the Padma Shri and Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Academi in 1981, Padma Bhushan in 2007 and Padma Vibhushan in 2013. He was conferred with the Commandeur de la Legion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) on July 14, 2015.

His work evolved from painting expressionistic landscapes to abstract ones. From his fluent water colours of landscapes and townscapes executed in the early 1940s, he moved toward a more expressive language, painting landscapes of the mind.

In 1962, he became a visiting lecturer at the University of California in Berkeley, USA. Raza was initially enamored of the bucolic countryside of rural France. Eglise is part of a series which captures the rolling terrain and quaint village architecture of this region. Showing a tumultuous church engulfed by an inky blue night sky, Raza uses gestural brushstrokes and a heavily impasto-ed application of paint, stylistic devices which hint at his later 1970s abstractions.


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Conferred the Padma Shri in 2018, which Gond tribal artist from Madhya Pradesh has taken his art to international fame?

Renowned Gond tribal painter Bhajju Shyam who was honoured with Padma Shri this year, recalls an incident with a laughter, which proved a turning point in his life.

Bhajju Shyam is a Gond artist who was born in the village of Patangarh, Madhya Pradesh. While looking for work in Bhopal, Bhajju was encouraged to take up art by his uncle, Jangarh. His internationally acclaimed book, ‘London Jungle Book,’ is a Gond artist’s reflections on the cultural experience in the city of London. A renowned illustrator, he was awarded the Italian Bologna Ragazzi for his work on ‘The Night Life of Trees,’ along with Durgabai Vyam. He has also been conferred with the Padmashri – the fourth highest civilian honour in India – in 2018, for his contribution to the arts.

For his book The Life of Trees Night (2006) he was awarded the 2008 Bologna Children's Book Fair. Bhajju Shyam lives in Bhopal, India. He was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award the Padma Shri in 2018.


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Of Indian-Hungarian descent, who was a pioneer of modern Indian art?

Amrita Sher-Gil was an eminent Hungarian-Indian painter. She has been called "one of the greatest avant-garde women artists of the early 20th century" and a "pioneer" in modern Indian art. 

She painted women going to the market, women at a wedding, women at home. Sometimes she showed women bonding with other women. At times the works seemed to convey a sense of silent resolve. It was a rendering rarely seen in depictions of Indian women at the time, when portrayals tended to cast them as happy and obedient.

Her 1932 painting “Young Girls” received a gold medal in 1933 at the Paris Salon, the renowned art show. It depicts her sister, Indira, wearing European clothing and a look of confidence while sitting with a partially undressed friend, Denise Proutaux, whose face is obscured by her hair — one woman bold and daring and another reserved and hidden. The painting reflects the different aspects of Sher-Gil’s personality — outgoing and sociable, as she was known among those who encountered her at Parisian parties, or tucked away and painting vigorously.


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A six-year-old elephant calf named Kutti-narayanan from Kerala became which mascot of the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi?

The mascot of the Asian Games held in New Delhi, Appu provided a sneak peek into India’s culture and outlook. The words, ‘Friendship Fraternity Forever’ in English and Hindi accompanied the image. This was the first time that the Asian Games had a mascot. A real-life elephant was the inspiration behind it.

Appu was based on a real elephant, who at the time of the games was just six-years-old. The organizers were denied making a mascot out of a real animal and hence transported Appu's image on a page. The mascot became associated with the Games that help Delhi on its path to becoming a modern capital city.

 The authorities did not want to make a live animal the mascot but the elephant reportedly captured the public imagination. He fell into a tank in 1992 and was maimed forever but only died in Kerala in his late 20s in 2005.


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In 2005, Bengaluru-based airlines Air Deccan used which iconic character created by cartoonist R.K. Laxman as its mascot?

Bangalore-based Air Deccan has struck a deal with R K Laxman, India's most famous cartoonist, to use his legendary 'Common Man' character as the airline's mascot.     

When Laxman began to draw cartoons he was inspired by Manas in The Times of India, he attempted to represent different states and cultures in India. In the rush to meet deadlines, he began to draw fewer and fewer background characters, until finally he found only one remaining—the now-familiar Common Man. The Common Man generally acts as a silent witness to all the action in the comic. According to anthropologist Ritu Gairola Khanduri, "Clad in a dhoti and a plaid jacket, the puzzled Common Man is no dupe: his sharp observations miss no detail of the political circus."

Salman Rushdie, who grew up in Bombay on a daily fare of Laxman's pocket cartoons, mentions the Common Man in two of his books—his 1995 novel The Moor's Last Sigh and his 2012 autobiography, Joseph Anton.

A statue of the Common man, created by the sculptor Suresh Sakpal, was installed in 2007 along the sea face on Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan road, Worli seaface, Mumbai.


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Owned by a duo from Goa, which pug was the popular face of advertisements – despite protests from PETA – for mobile operator Hutchison Essar?

Cheeka is a pug who appeared in the "You & I" advertising campaign of Hutchison Essar's cellular service in India, along with the child actor Jayaram.

The television ad was the first to be shot, a 60-second sequence in lush green Goa. The role of the boy was played by Jayaram, an eight-year-old who had already starred in four other ads. Cheeka was suggested for the role by an assistant at Nirvana Films, the makers of the ad. The campaign became a hit, and was soon followed by a print version for newspapers. Cheeka earned ?150,000 for the campaign, and appeared in Hutch ads, till the merger with Vodafone India, representing the network. She featured with her pink nose, when Hutch changed its signature color from orange to pink.

The ad campaign was followed by a rise in the popularity of pugs in India, and the sale of pugs more than doubled within months, with prices shooting up from about ?10,000 to ?20,000-60,000. A few other ads also appeared in the following months, inspired by the idea of a dog following a boy. In addition, Cheeka was the wallpaper most often downloaded by Hutch customers onto their phone screens in 2005.


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Created by noted cartoonist R.K. Laxman, which little boy with a paint-brush was the mascot for Mumbai-based Asian Paints, for decades?

Gutsy Gattu was conceived by renowned cartoonist R.K. Laxman in 1954, when Asian Oil and Paint Company had a massive turnover of Rs. 3.5 lakhs. GATTU, the little Boy with wet Brush in hand happens to be the mascot / trade mark of Asian Paints in India.

The Gattu experiment was vastly different from what rivals at that time were doing. Jenson & Nicholson, for example, attempted to speak to an upwardly-mobile, urban audience in the seventies, with the 'When you think of colour, think of us' campaign. Gattu appealed to the masses and helped Asian Paints become the leader.

With Gattu's track record, it was tough to axe it, but Asian Paints went ahead. It was trying to shake off its mass-market tag for a more premium appeal in the 21st century. This was the first of its two brand makeovers, where the emphasis shifted from the lovable icon to a corporate identity. The second makeover, three-four years ago, saw Asian Paints shortened to AP in the logo.

Asian Paints has also consolidated its earlier home solutions offerings under its paint solutions brand, Ezycolour, determinedly moving into the services space.


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In 2017, the Kanha Tiger Reserve got an official mascot named Boorsingh. The mascot is Madhya Pradesh’s which state animal?

Kanha has become the first tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot — Bhoorsingh the Barasingha — to present the hard ground swamp deer as the spirit of the reserve and spread awareness to save it from possible extinction. Barasingha, or swamp deer, is the state animal of Madhya Pradesh.

The mascot aims to present the hard ground swamp deer (Barasingha) as the spirit of the reserve and spread awareness to save it from possible extinction.

The mascot has been designed by cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty, who runs a popular website which showcases over 350 cartoons, comics and illustrations on wildlife and nature conservation, environment, sustainability etc.

Barasingha, or swamp deer is a deer species distributed in the Indian subcontinent. It is the state animal of Madhya Pradesh.

Kanha National Park was created in June 1955 and was made the Kanha Tiger Reserve in 1973. Today it stretches over an area of 940 square km in the two istricts Mandla and Balaghat.

The park has a significant population of Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, sloth bear, barasingha and Indian wild dog.


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