THE distinction which is now made between ‘Fine Art’ and Industrial or Applied Art is a quite modern one, and one of which the East has hardly ever been conscious. It is an untrue and unnecessary distinction, indicative of much that is unhealthy and artificial in modern life, and in the greatest epochs of European art the distinction was never made. The same influences which have caused Indian architecture to decline have affected Indian sculpture and painting to an even greater extent the spread of western materialism and the neglect by educated Indians of their own traditional culture. In my Indian Sculpture and Painting I have endeavoured to show that the position of inferiority which Europe has always attributed to Indian artists, in respect to the higher aspects of art, has been entirely due to a misconception of their aims, and to a misunderstanding of the eastern outlook upon nature. This misconception would not have existed so long, had it not been that the great majority of educated Indians have always tacitly accepted the position of inferiority which European opinion has accorded to Indian fine art, and made no attempt to enlighten Europe as to the true Indian point of view.
I received a short time ago a long and interesting letter from a Bengali correspondent which shows me that some of the passages in my book have been misunderstood. I will therefore endeavour to make my position clearer on the points to which he takes exception. My correspondent writes: “My first feeling on reading your book was to protest against a few sentences therein (p. 53): ‘The female type is also taken by Indian artists to personify divine fury and destructive energy, in the form of Durga, the fighting Goddess, who wars against demons and spirits of evil, and Kali, mother of all the Gods, and destroyer of the Universe. The latter, in modern Hindu art, is a hideous, vulgar conception, altogether unworthy of the noble artistic traditions of earlier times.’” “This may mean,” my correspondent continues, “that in modern Hindu art Kali is hideously represented, or it may mean that Kali is a modern conception and it is hideous and vulgar... where lies the hideousness, and the vulgarity you speak of? Does it lie in the nakedness, or in the dangling tongue? You seem to have taken it for granted that the female type is taken to represent the ‘Divine fury and destructive energy alone. This assertion conclusively proves that this piece of our art has not been studied by you in the same spirit as you may have done the others... Mother Kali is the soul of a divine worship which has produced more than half the very best hymns and songs in the living Bengali language, a divine worship which has produced an endless host of Buddha-like men in Bengal, lastly a Sri Ramakrshna of Dakhineshwar (whose life has been written by the late Professor Max Miiller), and Swami Vivekananda, whose thoughts on Hindu religion and the practical Vedanta philosophy are palpably conquering the cream of the intellectual world. In the name of Sacred Art, 1 charge you to make atonement for the Vedantic criticism on it by expunging it from the book. This sentence has raised a great murmur.”
I fear my correspondent, in the fervour of his religious zeal, is allowing his judgment to go astray. He admits that my words may bear two different constructions but, without waiting for further explanation, he fastens upon them the least obvious of the two, and calls upon me to withdraw a proposition which I have not, and never had, the least wish to maintain. The intention of my book is purely artistic, and when I wrote that “Kali, in modern Hindu art, is a hideous, vulgar conception” it did not occur to me that anyone would interpret those words as an attack upon the abstract idea, or religious conception of Kali. What I meant was that modern Hindu art represented Kali in a manner quite unworthy (artistically) of the high abstract ideas which intellectual Hindus associate with the name. A work of art should convey, even to an outsider, an adequate impression of the ideas it represents; but in the case of modern images of Kali I do not think that anyone, except one of her own devotees, would associate high religious ideals with the artistic representations which are now made of her. I do not object to the nakedness of these images, nor to the protruding tongue: neither of these attributes is incompatible with great art. But I do maintain that the makers of these images fail completely to translate into concrete form what my correspondent describes as “the grand combination of feelings embodied in the conception of Kali”.
I would go further and maintain that the same failure is conspicuous, in perhaps a lesser degree, | in all modern Hindu images. They all, without exception, fall far behind the great masterpieces of Hindu art, illustrated in my book, which European artists can thoroughly appreciate as worthy representations of high religious ideals; and I would ask my Hindu readers to earnestly consider this matter, for a deterioration of art is always an indication of spiritual and intellectual degeneration and this deterioration set in long before the advent of British rule, to which some of your thinkers are too ready to attribute all the evils for which India suffers at the present day. It can be observed, not only in Hindu sculpture but in the lesser arts in the vessels and symbol? you use in your worship, and in domestic appliances as well. There is less sincerity in the workmanship, a diminished sense of beauty in the forms and decoration, less simplicity and dignity in the style, than there were in such things even fifty years ago; but the deterioration did not begin then, it dates from times anterior to the introduction of western ideas and western government, though undoubtedly it has been much more rapid in recent times.
I ventured in my book to suggest some of the influences, other than western materialism and commercialism, which have helped to bring about this degeneration in Hindu art. One was, undoubtedly, the puritanical ideas of the Muhammadan religion, which laid a ban upon the higher forms of art, as being irreligious just as many Christian puritans have done. This limitation of artistic expression must inevitably lead to deterioration, intellectual and spiritual, for the artistic faculty is the highest of spiritual gifts and the reverent exercise of it in the worship of God will always be the source of its highest inspiration. But these puritanical ideas have not been confined to Muhammadan and Christian teachers, and I believe we must look for the deeper reason of the decline of Hindu art in the decline of religious feeling in Hinduism, just as the true explanation of the decline of Christian art is to be found in a decline of the Christian faith. I tried to suggest in my book that there are some aspects of Hindu philosophy which might have an inherent tendency to bring about a stagnation in the creative faculties. I wrote (p. 81):
Obviously the Vedantic doctrine of Maya, which treats all nature as illusion, might, if pushed to extremes, cut away the ground of all artistic creation, just as the intense mental concentration, which is the foundation of the Yoga school of philosophy, might eventually lead to absolute quietism and intellectual sterility.
My correspondent takes this to mean that the doctrine of Maya and the practice of yoga necessarily lead to intellectual sterility, and rather indignantly asks: “Did Buddha have intellectual sterility; did Shankaracharya; or did Vivekananda, or Sri Ramakrshna Paramahatnsa?”
This was very far from my meaning. What I wished to express was that though the practice of yoga does not, as I am fully aware, necessarily mean asceticism, it does tend to withdraw a great many active minds from worldly affairs, and that the continual concentration of the human mind upon the Real and Absolute, does, in many cases, lead men to despise the unreality and impermanence of the present existence, to neglect their duties as citizens and to cease to exercise their intellectual faculties in the affairs of this life. Certainly the great spiritual teachers, whose names my correspondent cites, did not fall into such a state; but that was because their practice of yoga was inspired by the deepest love for their fellow-men, and through this love it became intellectually fruitful in the highest degree. Without such love, which, as I said in my first chapter, is always the motive power of the highest art creation, the yoga practice of ordinary men often leads to intellectual sterility; for faculties which are withdrawn from constant exercise tend to become atrophied, just as any muscle of the body will become atrophied when it is never exerted.
So far from arguing that the practice of yoga is necessarily destructive to art creation, I have tried in my book to show that the power of spiritual insight, which the practiser of yoga endeavours to develop, is the fundamental principle in Indian art. I would go even further and maintain that this power of spiritual insight is the foundation of all the highest art, whether it be eastern or western; and so it is that the greatest European artists and thinkers have received their inspiration from yoga, often without being conscious of it and without practising the specialised spiritual exercises which are part of the Indian yogi’s ritual. My correspondent gives me an interesting anecdote which, he says, “will illustrate the way of art conception of the Hindus and prove that the practice of yoga alone gives the best artistic conceptions and does not bring about intellectual sterility, as you say”. I would adopt the same anecdote to show that there is no fundamental difference between the highest art conceptions in the East and the West. The eastern artists practise yoga consciously, the western generally unconsciously; but the European who possesses artistic insight can thoroughly appreciate Indian art, even though he may be entirely ignorant of Indian philosophy and religious practices.
A man who did not know Samskrt but practised religion, and hence a practiser of yoga, used often to read the Gita without understanding a bit of it, and would shed tears as he read it. A Brahmana who was a pandit, often passed by and observed this man reading the Gita with tears in his eyes. He found out that the man did not understand Samskrt, and so he was curious to know why the man wept while he read a thing he did not understand at all. So the Brahmana one day put the question to him and the man replied. “Oh Sir! when I read the sacred book I see Bhagavan Sri Krshna as Parahasarathi telling the Gita to Arjuna, and I cannot help weeping at the glorious sight!” The proud pandit fell at his feet and said: Vayam tattwdnveshat natah, madhukara twam khatu kriti “While we are dead by our search after the truth, Sir, thou art blessed as the bee, successful in finding it!”
I fully agree, however, with ray correspondent when he says that “photography and the tenth-rate commercial art of Europe” are propagating quite a wrong grammar of art in India. ‘Fine art Societies ‘and English education do the same, but it is not right to attribute the decay of Indian art entirely to western influence. If there had not been esoteric influences tending to degeneration in Indian art, it would have remained sufficiently sure of its position to resist destructive esoteric influences it could have exposed the wrongness of the foreign grammar itself and not have taken it on trust as better than its own. As I have said before, it is possible, even probable, that the shock of the contact with western materialism was just the force needed to revive what is worth reviving in Indian art and to help it to slough off what is worthless the force which should rouse India to reconsider her position and to make that readjustment which, as the Gita says, must be made “whenever there is low vibration in the spirit of religion”.
“Swami Vivekananda used to say,” (writes my correspondent) “with regard to the relations of England to India: ‘the snake which has bitten must again suck out the poison if the patient is destined to survive/ Here, in the case of art, England, consciously or unconsciously killed Indian art, and when you, an Englishman, have sucked out the heinous poison, I take it to be significant of future art revival.”
If I am to play the part of physician to Indian art I would take a less desponding view of the patient’s state than my correspondent does. Indian art is still very much alive, at least as much as art is in Europe, and while I am doing my best to suck out the western poison, I think it my duty to tell the patient that the poison would never have acted so violently were it not for the unhealthiness of the body before the snake came to bite it. The snake venom, however, may after all prove to be the true antitoxin to the poison of the previous sickness, and India may yet learn to bless the great Naga of the West under whose shelter its national consciousness is now re-awakening. It is only the excess of the poison which has done so much harm, and when India returns to its normal state I believe that its art will achieve even greater things than it has done before. The greatest danger both to India and to England, is from the spread of race-antagonism, a poison even more fatal to human progress than the poison of materialism.
I am again in agreement with my correspondent when he says: “Music is the most potent factor in the harmonious development of art.” I shall have occasion to refer to this point later on when I come to the question of education. Music is the soul of art, but neither music, nor any other intellectual or spiritual force, should be used to promote the feeling of race-antagonism. It is false music, and false art which create hatred and discord instead of love and harmony.
Though I always insist strongly upon the importance of the industrial side of art upon the necessity of making art a part of life and work you must not think that the higher branches of painting and sculpture are not to be considered of great account in the political economy of art. On the contrary, the condition of the fine arts gives the surest indication of the soundness or unsoundness of the whole artistic life of a people, and the generally miserable state of the fine arts in India is the worst symptom of the decadence, just as the beginning of a new School of Indian painting, of which there are encouraging indications in Bengal, is the most hopeful sign of a general renaissance of art. So while Swadeshi reformers are interesting themselves in industrial schemes, they should not believe that the state of the fine arts is not worth their attention. Utility and beauty must go hand in hand: neither should be exalted at the expense of the other. Ruskin has wisely written, in his Political Economy of Art, that in the plans of the perfect economist, or mistress of the household,
there is a studied expression of the balanced division of her care between the two great objects of utility and splendour; in her right hand, food and flax, for life and clothing; in her left hand, the purple and the needlework, for honour and for beauty. All perfect housewifery or national economy is known by these two divisions; wherever either is wanting the economy is imperfect. If the motive of pomp prevails, and the care of the national economist is directed only to the accumulation of gold, and of pictures, and of silk and marble, you know at once that the time must soon come when all these treasures shall be scattered and blasted in national ruin. If, on the other hand, the element of utility prevails, and the nation disdains to occupy itself in anywise with the arts of beauty and delight, not only a certain quantity of its energy calculated for exercise in those arts alone must be entirely wasted, which is bad economy, but also the passions connected with the utilities of property become morbidly strong, and a mean lust of accumulation merely for the sake of accumulation, or even of labour merely for the sake of labour, will banish at last the serenity and morality of life, as completely, and perhaps more ignobly, than even the lavishness of pride, and the lightness of pleasure. And similarly, and much more visibly, in private and household economy, you may judge always of its perfectness by its fair balance between the use and the pleasure of its possessions. You will see the wise cottager’s garden trimly divided between its well-set vegetables and its fragrant flowers; you will see the good housewife taking pride in her pretty tablecloth, and her glittering shelves, no less than in her well-dressed dish, and her full store-room; the care in her countenance will alternate with gaiety, and though you will reverence her in her seriousness, you will know her best by her smile.
But before the higher branches of art can be restored to a sound and vigorous state, they too must be made a part of life and work, contributing to the national well-being and happiness, just as much as the industrial arts. The fine arts in India have degenerated into an amusement for the rich, a means of gratifying personal vanity and pride; they must become a part of national education and be made to serve the highest aims of religion and life. The collecting of European pictures, which is one of the amusements of the aristocracy and plutocracy in India, does not promote art or the morality of life: it is merely a competition in ostentation and self-indulgence. To quote Ruskin’s words again: “It is hardly possible to spend your money in a worse or more wasteful way; for though you may not be doing it for ostentation yourself, you are, by your pertinacity, nourishing the ostentation of others; you meet them in their game of wealth, and continue it for them; if they had not found an opposite player the game would have been done; for a proud man can find no enjoyment in possessing himself of what nobody disputes with him.”
Even when regarded merely as an investment, it is always a bad one “an investment in a cargo of mental quicklime or guano, which being laid on the fields of human nature, is to grow a harvest of pride.”
The old Indian picture and sculpture galleries, such as those at Ajanta, Amaravati and Ellora, as well as the chitrasalas, the private galleries of the aristocracy, were schools of religion, of morality, of national culture and history. There will never be a true renaissance of art in India until the fine arts are restored to their proper place in the national life. Your children should learn the stories of Rama and Slta, of Krshna and Radha, of Savi^ri and Satyavan, of Nala and Damayanti, not only from books, but from pictures painted on the walls of your schools, houses and palaces. Your young men should take lessons in religion and history from great paintings on the walls of colleges and municipal buildings. And these must be painted by Indian artists and in an Indian way. This is the part which fine art should take in a complete and sound scheme of national education.
There are many Indian artists to be found who have not forgotten the Indian way of painting and sculpture, and if those who wish to encourage Indian art would lead them to work in this way, instead of wasting money in prizes, at Fine Art Exhibitions, or in sending young men to Europe to learn European ideas of art, there would soon be no need of any other schools of art in India. I have often heard it said that the caste system has been one of the reasons of the degeneration of Indian Fine Art. Whatever may be said against the caste system, this cannot justly be maintained. But for the caste system the traditional artistic culture, which gives the present generation of Indians such splendid foundation to build upon, would long ago have disappeared entirely. It is almost impossible to overvalue the importance of a sound tradition in art. As Dr. Coomaraswamy rightly says (Medieval Sinhalese Art, p. 98):
It does not prevent the man of genius from producing the most beautiful work possible, though ensuring that it shall so far conform to an accepted standard as to be immediate and universal in its appeal; at the same time it does prevent the possibility of holy and elevating subjects being treated absurdly or stupidly, so as to wound the feelings of serious men; which happens every day now that the old tradition is generally broken with Even the worst traditional work is preferable to the weak, effeminate and sensuous drawing of low-country workmen [in Ceylon], who under western influence have attempted a more naturalistic style without any training, and certainly without taste.
And again (p. 171) he says:
It must not be supposed, however, that tradition, by its very nature, fetters the expression and production of great art; on the contrary it enables the great artists to speak in a language understood of the people, and without that necessity for explanation which reduces the value of more individualistic art; and the existence of an art language is no more a fetter to the true artist than the existence of a word language is to the true poet. And what did tradition mean to the lesser craftsmen, for whom art was but a craft? It gave them a conception so defined as to avoid all danger of the sacred subjects being treated absurdly or irreverently. How well this aim was attained is shown by the vulgarity and stupidity that do appear in Indian art, where the tradition is rudely and contemptuously broken. But while the tradition lasted, it saved the man of small capacity from his own folly, and made it possible for him to work acceptably within its limits.
Because this sound artistic tradition exists it does not follow that the practice of painting and sculpture and of other arts, should continue to be confined to the hereditary artistic castes. In the greatest periods of Indian art this was never the case. There are innumerable passages in Samskrt and Pali literature which show that painting was often practised by kings and princes as well as by professional artists. It will be a very healthy sign when the aristocracy of India, instead of collecting European pictures for the purpose of display, begin to practise the arts themselves, as they did in former days. First let the traditional artists be restored to the honoured position they formerly held in Indian Courts, and to a dignified position in society as the upholders of national artistic tradition, and you will not then want European teachers to instruct you in art.
The princes and aristocracy of India have a great responsibility in this matter, for on their patronage the prosperity of the fine arts largely depends. All educated Indians should feel that by dishonouring the Indian artists who hold to their ancient traditions they are dishonouring art, dishonouring India, and dishonouring themselves. The honour you mete out to Indian artists should not be in proportion to their skill in imitating European art the essence of art is creation, not imitation but in proportion to their ability to interpret truly Indian life and Indian artistic thought. By putting Indian fine art on a lower intellectual plane than that of Europe you lower the whole intellectual vitality of India, for nothing is more intellectually depressing than the feeling of a constitutional inferiority.
Indians will never recover their intellectual freedom until art takes again its former place in national education, and until that intense feeling for beauty, and that love and reverence for nature, which shine so strongly in Vedic literature, inspire once more the whole national life and religion, just as it once inspired the life and thought of Greece and Italy and of all countries where art has ever flourished. Every great intellectual awakening, since the world began, has proceeded from this yoga communion with the source of all beauty, and all love, which your old Rshis taught and practised, whose wisdom is your most precious heritage. So, while you give your artistic traditions their rightful honour and place in your national education you must not consider them all-sufficient for you, but go yourselves direct to the same source, from which their inspiration was drawn, for there only will you and your children imbibe the strength and refreshment which will revive your art.
You must inculcate in your children the love of beauty in nature and in art by making the environment of your schools and colleges beautiful with trees and flowers and pleasant pools of water, as they were in the great days of Indian art. Bead the description which Hiouen T’sang, the Chinese pilgrim, gave of the famous convent of Nalanda, one of the old Indian Universities:
All around, pools of translucent water shone with the open petals of the blue lotus flowers; here and there the lovely kanaka trees hung down their deep red blossoms; and woods of dark mango trees spread their shade between them. In the different courts, the houses of the monks were each four stories in height. The pavilions had pillars ornamented with dragons, and beams resplendent with all the colours of the rainbow rafters richly carved, columns ornamented with jade, painted red and richly chiselled, and balustrades of carved open-work. You might take a lesson, too, from the national life of the Japanese, who always celebrate the blooming of the iris flowers and of the cherry blossom as a great national festival for young and old. Should not India have her lotus flower day, and asoka blossom day days to be associated with the planting of flowering trees and fruit trees for the public good and pleasure, and with the dedication of beautiful wallpaiiitings in schools and colleges and municipal buildings? For assuredly the power of knowing beauty and loving it is a moral and intellectual faculty of as much importance in national education as reading, writing and arithmetic; and if there is one fact which history clearly teaches, it is, that national life is always strongest and most healthy when the national artistic instincts are most developed.
The Greeks knew this, and based their whole educational system upon it; our present English system of classical education, while professing to take Greek culture for its model, persistently ignores the whole spirit of it by treating the aesthetic faculties as of very small importance. The Greek system of education had no room for the minute dissection of dead languages; its scheme of mental gymnastics hardly took cognisance of book-learning at all at least not in the form in which it is used in Anglo-Indian schools but it regarded as of vital importance the development of the sense of rhythm, or the bringing of the mental, moral and physical faculties of the individual into perfect tune with the eternal harmony of nature. In fact, it devoted its whole attention to the very faculties which are almost completely neglected in the usual modern European system of education.
Modern European educationists are only now beginning to realise that education to the Greek did not mean the stuffing of the youthful brain with a more or less complete knowledge of scientific ‘facts/ nor the unscientific exercise of the body in more or less disorderly sports (which are by no means the best adapted for producing a mens sana in corpore sano), but the development of a sense of perfect harmony in all the relations of human life intellectual, moral and physical; and as the essence of nature’s harmony is contained in poetry, music and art, these subjects took the principal place in a young man’s mental and moral education, while physical education was also based upon the practice of rhythmic exercises having for their object the most perfect development of the whole organisation of the human body, rather than the cultivation of .the sporting instinct. For the purpose of a sound physical education the old Indian system of exercises is much better adapted than English cricket and football, though for developing strength of character a good deal may be said for the English games.
Educational reformers in India should endeavour to work in the true scientific spirit of Greek education, instead of imitating modern European pedagogic systems, which are only classical in name. They should follow Plato’s advice.
Seek out such workmen as are able by the help of a good natural genius to trace the nature of the beautiful and the decent, that our youth, dwelling as it were in a healthful place, may be profited at all hands: whence from the beautiful works, something will be conveyed to the sight and hearing, as a breeze bringing health from salutary places, imperceptibly leading them on directly from childhood to the resemblance, friendship, and harmony with right reason.
All the arts, said Plato, should be used for this rhythmical training of the human faculties.
Painting, too, is full of these things, and every other workmanship of the kind; and weaving is full of these, and carving, and architecture and all workmanship of every kind of vessels as is, moreover, the nature of bodies and of all vegetables: for in all these there is propriety and impropriety; and the impropriety, discord and dissonance are the sisters of ill expression and ill sentiment, and their opposites are the sisters and imitations of sober and good sentiment.
It will be convenient, before commencing to deal more fully with educational questions, to give a summary of my practical proposals for the revival of Indian Architecture and the fine arts of painting and sculpture.
I. Let every Indian, who builds a house or palace, do honour to Indian art by employing Indian master-builders who have the knowledge of Indian architectural traditions contained in the Shilpa-Shastras. Let him in consultation with these master-builders, adapt these traditions to present-day habits and requirements as they have always been adapted in former times; bearing in mind that the fundamental principle of good art is that perfect fitness makes perfect beauty. Let good ornament be used, as far as means will allow, only to add to the beauty of suitable design and good construction; never for the purpose of concealing ugliness, or defects, nor for the sake of vulgar display. Good design and construction make all work artistic, even if no ornament be added.
II. Let all furniture and decoration made tor Indian houses, even chairs and similar furniture of European origin, be made distinctively Indian in design, not merely imitative of European forms; and let Indian dress be worn by Indians in Indian houses. So will you and your craftsmen develop your creative and constructive powers of thought.
III. To promote national reverence for beauty in nature and in art, let it be considered a public duty to make the surroundings of schools and public buildings beautiful with flowers and trees and water.
IV. Let days be set apart, as in Japan, for the national enjoyment and worship of beauty days to celebrate the flowering of the lotus, or asoka tree, and for visiting places conspicuous for natural beauty.
V. Let religious festivals and political meetings be marked as much by the planting of fruit and flowering trees for the public benefit as by prayers and vows and speech-making. If for every speech now made a tree were planted and made to grow, how much happier would India become! Will not the Industrial Section of the National Congress inaugurate an Arbor-Day for all India, on the basis of one, two or three trees planted and made to grow, for every political speech delivered the ratio to be determined by the length of the speeches?
VI. Let the great events of national history, and the moral teaching of the national epics, be impressed strongly on the minds of your children by concrete images painted on the walls of school and municipal buildings, instead of only by word-impressions derived from books and oral teaching. But such pictures must always be painted by Indian artists, with Indian colours and in the Indian way of artistic expression.
VII. Let the rich men of India show an intelligent interest in art, not by collecting European pictures, but by taking care of the masterpieces of Indian art, and by reviving the old chitrashalas, in which Indian subjects are painted on the walls by Indian artists in an Indian way.
The best way to honour Indian architects, sculptors, and painters is by giving them honourable employment; so it is very necessary to find out and bring to public notice all the traditional master-builders and sculptors who are now practising the rules of their art in the traditional Indian way, and all descendants of the painters who formerly held honoured positions at Indian Courts. I know that a good many very able architects and sculptors are still working in Northern India; even in Calcutta, where Indian artistic traditions have been almost obliterated by the influence of modern education and commercialism, I discovered an able young artist, compelled for want of other remunerative employment to make patterns for Manchester piece-goods, whose grandfather had been Court painter to the Nawab of Murshidabad! I secured him an appointment in the Calcutta School of Art, as a teacher of painting. He has done very good teaching work there, and his own art has improved very much in the more artistic environment in which he is now placed. There are certainly a good many of such artists wanting work, still to be found living in obscurity, owing to the degeneration of public taste in India.
These are just the men whose knowledge of traditional Indian art is of the greatest value, but they are becoming fewer every year, and with them the most precious traditions of Indian architecture, sculpture and painting will become extinct. It is the obvious duty of every Indian who professes interest in art, to exert himself to bring such men and their work into public notice. The Industrial section of the Indian Congress, which has done valuable work with regard to Indian industries, should take a broader view of the artistic interests of India, and not restrict its efforts to what are commonly called the ‘useful ‘arts. All art is useful.
The Indian Society of Oriental Art at Calcutta—which is the only Fine Art Society in India whose annual Exhibitions are organised on thoroughly sound lines has hitherto found considerable difficulty in its endeavours to bring Indian artists into public notice. The scope of its work would be very much extended if it received more active support from Indians. The Madras Presidency, and every other province in India ought to have similar societies. Whatever may be said of the sun-dried bureaucrat and his indifference to art, it must be acknowledged by every fair-minded Indian, even those whose political views are most extreme, that up to the present time Indian art has received quite as much moral and material support from Anglo-Indians, in their non-official capacity, as it has received from the majority of educated Indians. It is the privilege of the artist to occupy neutral ground in politics, and I sincerely believe, in spite of Mr. Kipling, that in working together for the revival of Indian art, Europeans and Indians may find that sphere of common interest in which political, racial and social animosities and prejudices may be completely forgotten.
In no part of the world does the vitality of art depend entirely on the action or inaction of Government; official art is nearly always bad art. True art is the full expression of the individual or national consciousness, and is primarily the concern of each individual and of the community at large, rather than of the administrative machinery. Departmentalism is indifferent to art only when the people are so.