Stunning paintings that capture Indian cities

Aug 31,2017

Indian cities have often been portrayed by artists, representing the beauty and the different moods of urban India on canvas. From winter to monsoon, and from monuments to market places, the charm of cities as subjects lies in the mundane daily life, replete with commonplace joys and tragedies, cast amidst solid, unfeeling structures. 

Whether it’s monsoon drenched Kolkata and Mumbai or the architectures of Delhi and Rajasthan, you can find them in many an artist’s creation, rendered in different techniques, shrouding these visions in fantasy and mystique. The following are few works of art that has lent flavour to some Indian urban spaces:

Winter reflection - Kolkata

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A rendition of the city of joy in watercolour, this painting brings an aura of luminescence into a casual portrayal of two trams. A very difficult medium to paint with, this painting steers clear of photographic realistic styles and uses blurred lines and splashes of colour in order to awaken the imagination of the viewer. A slight fog and mist are visible around the edges of the forms. One can see the diffused winter sunshine through the dry leaves, while the fog mixes the city lights with the slightly bleak blue of the winter sky.

Ananta Mandal is known for his works on Mumbai and Calcutta. He works with water, oil and acrylic colours to bring forth his way of seeing urban and natural landscapes. His works on the Indian cities are focus on concrete structures as well as cars, trains and trams. You can view more of his work on his website.

View from the Malabar Hills - Mumbai

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Before the intense spiritual exploration surrounding the Bindu commenced, Syed Haider Raza, a great modern Indian painter, devoted himself to the representation of cities. After painting the cities in France, he arrived in India to co-create the Bombay Progressive Art movement. Working alongside the likes of M.F. Husain and F.N. Souza, Raza turned his skilled attention to the city of Mumbai, also known as Bombay. 

In this painting, Bombay is lavished with the colour of Raza’s imagination. The city loses its concrete existence and becomes the stuff of art. On his way towards abstraction of form, Raza distorts the realistic view to depict Bombay from his perspective.

Ganapati Bappa Morya - Mumbai

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Another watercolour work by Ananta Mandal, this painting is the artist’s impression of Mumbai during the Ganapati festival. Mandal studies in the Government Art College, Calcutta University, and during his stay in Kolkata, painted the city before finally moving to Mumbai. 

One of his penultimate paintings, this work is an example of his mastery over watercolour medium and his perception of the city. He capture the fervour that sweeps Mumbai as the greatest festival of the city within the frame of the canvas, creating an image of a vast multitude of rich red, highlighted by blue, gold and white, and deepened into black.

Cityscape at Night - Goa

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One of the greatest artists of India, Francis Newton Souza painted Goa many a time. Heavily influenced by Pablo Picasso, Souza’s cityscapes have a distinctly cubist look. Despite the resemblance with the works of Picasso, Souza brings to the canvas a signature style of his own. 

Dedicated in his entire career to portraying what is commonly seen in uncommon ways, he sets cityscape against the blue of midnight, with clever chiaroscuro making parts of the city stand out while the others form silhouettes. F. N. Souza was also a master of depicting all that the society tries to turn a blind eye to. Many of his works compel the viewer to face their own realities, by taking the collective sight below the polished surface of civilized society. You can view more of his artworks on his website.

Mystic City - Varanasi

A master of watercolour, much of Paresh Maity’s works are vibrant with colour. His representation of Varanasi is almost an abstraction, with some forms being recognisable like a boat and the temple domes. The painting could be viewed as the impact of the mysticism of Varanasi as experienced by the painter. The water loses its definitions and turns a solid blue, while the city becomes are vague and translucent presence against the intense red that dominates the painting.

An avid traveller, Maity has explored many cities in the world, including Indian and European ones. According to him, it was Rajasthan and its colours that was the catalytic force, which brought a burst of vibrancy to his works. You can view more of his artworks on his website.

Rainy Season - Hyderabad

Rainy season depicted in watercolour is always a runny delight. Kishore Singh’s depiction of Hyderabad in the rain seems as though the city is being looked at through eyes fogged by rain. Rendered in warm hues, the image blurs as the depth increases, and forms merge with their reflection. In the background, the architecture of this historical city looms.

You can view more of his artworks on his website.

Traffic - Chennai

This painting by Narayan Iyer is a fauvist work of a rush hour in Chennai during rain. One of the rarer cities to be depicted, Iyer portrays the frenzy of the Indian city in bright colours and broad strokes.
- By Neesha Ghosh