Less than a week ago India celebrated its 72nd Republic Day and in much grandeur as always. India is now a prosperous country with blooming talent, opportunities, and is growing every day. It is the work of valorous freedom fighters who fought relentlessly to bring independence to their mother land.
However, amidst frontline warriors like Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Netaji, and many more, there are also great artists who instilled the feeling of patriotism in the minds of citizens and influenced them to participate in the movement to free our country.
Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951)
This legendary artist was the nephew of the famous poet Ravindranath Tagore and was extremely instrumental in stirring the nationalist movement. He led the Bengal School of Art which was established during the British Raj to incorporate and develop Indian art style- one that is unique to the subcontinent and not influenced by Western art.
It so happened that a teacher of the school by the name Ernest Binfield Havell decided to reject the common curriculum of British art schools and rather encouraged the students to study and imitate Mughal art. This move stirred controversies and protests by faculty, students, and media. However, Abanindranath Tagore backed Havell up in his attempt and went on to reform art teaching in India.
Bengal School of Art produced some phenomenal artists in the country who later made it big in the field of art and gave some exquisite masterpieces.
Abanindranath Tagore himself painted a very famous painting called Bharat Mata (originally called Banga Mata) in the year 1906 when British Raj split Bengal into two parts quoting administrative reasons. However, their motive was to divide and rule.
Abanindranath Tagore showed India as a women clad in traditional saree and having four hands. This painting of Bharat Mata gave people of the country a visual representation of the motherland they are fighting for which charged them to actively participate in the movement.
Zainul Abedin (1914-1976)
The cruelties of British rule were not limited to capturing our homeland and depriving us of basic rights and respect but were extended to depriving people of Bengal a proper meal and resources.
It was the time of World War 2 and British army was falling short of supplies when Winston Churchill ordered that many Indian soldiers and supplies be shipped to aid the British cause in the war thereby being an indirect cause of the devastating Bengal Famine in 1943.
The situation of the people and watching them die of starvation moved Zainul Abedin to a point where he decided to do the best he could- make sketches and document their suffering.
This led to him creating his most acclaimed series of paintings called the Famine. These paintings stirred anger in the minds of people of India who were deeply moved by the sinister setting of the works.
Nandanlal Bose (1882-1966)
The first picture that we visualize when we think of Mahatma Gandhi is of him walking with his stick. This representation is the work of skilled artist Nandanlal Bose.
He was a follower of Gandhi and often said that while Bapuji is not an artist in the sense of making actual art, he is still to be considered a true artist for it takes immense strength and vision to unite a country and instil feelings of nationalism among all.
Nandanlal Bose’s iconic representation of “Bapuji” is a depiction of Mahatma Gandhi during the Dandi March where he walked on foot from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi along with his followers. A simple sketch of him by the artist speaks volumes of the kind of influential person Gandhi was and his aura of leadership and passion combined with simplicity.
To this date, that portrayal of Gandhiji is considered incredibly famous and iconic.
While we only hear of the sacrifices and struggles of frontline freedom fighters, other artists, writers, musicians, etc. also played a major role in shaping the independence movement as a result of which India is where is it today celebrating its 74th Independence Day soon.