There were times when the delicate art of Himachal Pradesh was made in every house in villages by hundreds of artists, seeing the numbers waning, scholars and experts in the state have suggested to introduce the unique art as a subject in school to that it can thrive for its own sake.
There are three main centres of Kangra paintings namely Guler, Nurpur and Sujanpur Tira. The paintings depict ideas and values that guided life in society, sentiments and passions pictured in the language of brush and colour, making our experience rich and sensibilities sharp.
Whether it portrays one of the six seasons or modes of music, Radha and Krishna or Shiva and Parvati, Love and Devotion are recurring themes in Kangara paintings which are expressed in a poetical style full of rhythm, grace and beauty.
The former Chief Minister Virbadhra Singh made efforts to preserve and promote Kangra art by setting up a gallery at Dharamsala, honouring artists, and starting classes in the state Handicrafts Department to train and encourage the youth towards the local paintings. However, later not much has been done to make headway and today, a few artists are left in Kangra.
Long back a number of talented artists the were employed in the court of Raja Sansar Chand of Guler. He was the most ardent patron of the kangra paintings..
He entrusted artists to depict the scenes from Jaydeva’s Sanskrit love poem, “Gita Govinda”, “Bihari’s Sat Sai”, “Bhagawat Purana”, the romantic tale of Nala and Damyanti, and Keshav Das’s Raskapriya and Kavipriya, which were translated into the paintings of exquisite beauty. Manku, Khushala Kishan Lal, Basia, Purkhoo, Fatoo are mentioned as artists in the employment of Sansar Chand.
These artists did not mention their names on the painting, which also shows their selfless devotion to the art.