BHUBANESWAR: Modern and contemporary art forms have eaten into the space for painting documentation of flora and fauna in the latest past. While Indian history stands witness to the fact that stalwarts from India and abroad made rich contribution in documenting animals, birds and plants, post-Independance, the cult of painting nature has very few patrons, noted ornithologist and writer Bikram Grewal said.
Speaking on India’s natural history at the first presentation of art and nature series of the Ila Panda Centre of Arts here on Tuesday, Grewal said, be it the Mughal rule, East India Company or during British tyranny, essential and rare species of nature could be preserved over generations due to some rulers and eminent personalities who took keen interest in this by writing books or printing those on the canvas.
In ancient times, Egyptians painted bread, Chinese civilisation conserved mountains and age old topography, India and African nations painted animals like horses, bulls, rhinos and Asiatic lions. The early Vedas had listed 22 bird species and the later Vedas had more than 224 forms of birds documented, he said. Talking about the Mughal emperors, Grewal said, starting from Babur to Jahangir, they employed majestic painters in their courts who painted live nature. Jahangir was fascinated by any kind of animals and birds he used to see or heard of. It is said that Dutch and British rulers gifted exotic animals and birds to win his confidence and support.
Mansur was a magnificent artist in the Mughal court who painted zebra, chameleon, marquee and turkey which were gifted by foreigners. Mansur sketched the Siberian Crane even 164 years before it was discovered by science, said Grewal. The East India Company started Company Schools in Patna, Kolkata, Murshidabad and Lucknow which produced an art form blending Mughal kala and British kala in which shadows and perceptions were used for the first time.
Grewal expressed disappointment that not much has been done on nature painting post Independence. He exhorted the present generation to explore and generate interest in the diverse and rich flora and fauna in India. Among others, eminent cardiologist Dr JP Das, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan and IPCA Trustee Paramita Mohapatra were present.