Visual arts found a very fertile ground in the architectural expressions in India of by-gone days. These expressions were motivated by certain faiths and beliefs which were experienced and practised by people living in those times. Religion provided the main force for the practice of such faith and beliefs. Hinduism, Bhudhism, Jainism and myths and legends prevalent by virtue of the religious ideas found a very adequate expression in architectural forms and the visual arts. If we were to go into the details it will be interesting to know what led men to create such an integrated richness in architecture as well as the visual arts. One can easily say that propagation of religious ideals led people to accept certain values which further induced them to translate into concrete shapes and forms in the plastic as well as three-dimensional arts. More so, the idea of attaining Nirvana led people to create in the visual arts as well as architectural forms the accepted religious ideals.
Now we have the remains of such expressions, the richness of which is unsurpassed in many lands. The problem is how far that richness can be brought back into the midst of the present-day life. It was the cohesive working of the painters, sculptors and architects of those times that could bring about such wonderful creations. The architect had his own place, the sculptor and painter dealt with their own ideas and forms but both integrated their works, the examples of which are the many temples of the South as well as in the North.
Society has undergone a vast change during all these times. We, living in a democratic society have different sects, faiths and beliefs but the individual is at liberty to accept or reject prevalent ideas and groupings. He is free to think for him¬self and he works to get his needs and demands fulfilled from his immediate environments. In this present-day society of ours, vast technological and scientific advancements have resulted in the creation of architecture which is simplified and functional where a person finds freedom to think and also work for the society in which he lives. Such an architecture has come up at many places but is devoid of the visual arts. Our life with all the richnesses in terms of science, technology and intellectual thinking must be adequately portrayed in this architecture through brush and chisel. The artists, i.e. painter, sculptor and designer must be given a chance to express these dynamic times in which social, political and economic upheavals are taking place quite frequently. However much an architect may say that the modern architectural expression is in itself an example of rich visual art, I for one, can hardly agree with this line of thinking.
Contemporary architects are handling many types of materials and the same is true of the artists. The architects use and employ cement, mortar, stone, bricks, tiles, steel, etc., etc. The painters and sculptors also utilise materials from oils to plastics, from metal to stone and cement, from glazed tiles to slabs of various shades and colours to create mosaic. Thus a homogeneity and a happy relationship of materials can be established in architectural forms and the visual expressions through the close cooperation and working of the architects and the artists. Naturally the question arises, why should we not integrate architecture and the visual arts as was done in the by-gone times? I wonder why such an attitude is not shown by the architects and the artists. The artist if given a chance will not only portray his times but will also add to the richness of the architecture of his times. In fact the role and functions of architecture will be more forcefully brought to the surface through the proper display of visual arts.
Let us not categorise visual arts as mere ornamentations.