The term folk art is used in different meanings according to prejudice or context, making it difficult to understand what the true nature of folk art is.
Literally, folk art means the art of the people and from this point of view, all the arts from primitive art to modern art should be considered as folk art.
In primitive art, such works are sometimes seen which are completely like modern art.
If we scrutinize only the visual forms of various works under folk art, then among them there are such works which appear to be absolutely primitive art and some such works are also seen whose form is similar to the traditional art (e.g. pad-paintings), or It is similar to modern art or naturalistic art.
In this situation, what is the need and what is the basis for separate classification of folk art, it will have to be discussed.
Now take modern art. It is greatly influenced by primitive art, Islamic art and Eastern art. The art of many untrained artists like Rousseau, Bambawa, Grandmother Moses, which has the simplicity and natural creativity of folk art, is counted as modern art.
Every movement of modern art has more or less influence of other movements. Even among the traditionally developed fine arts—Indian, Japanese, Chinese—there is no art that is not influenced by preceding or other contemporary art.
According to diffusionism, external influences play an important role in the development of culture and independent development of culture and art is not possible. But this theory cannot be considered completely accurate.
This cannot explain some of the similarities seen in prehistoric art found in different continents. In fact, due to the integrality of the inherent creative drive of the human mind, we see similarities in the art of non-contact areas also.
Even in the field of science, different scientists have made similar inventions without each other’s knowledge. Literary works of similar idea and form have been written in different languages without knowledge of each other.
There is a lot of similarity in the fundamental principles of different religions arising from the realization of conscience. After all, being influenced or not also depends on the similarity within the human mind. If there is no such equality then external motivation will be ineffective.
Now the question arises whether the works created by taking inspiration from external sources are not mere imitations? As evidence, what is seen when we study the works of some great artists? Picasso began the development of Cubist painting by taking inspiration from Negro sculptures, but there is a fundamental difference between Picasso’s works and Negro art.
There is intellectual creativity in Picasso’s works and he is materialistic since his goal is inanimate beauty, whereas Negro sculptures are either inspired by primitive religious beliefs or are merely instinctual surgeons. Picasso followed primitive art only towards its ‘plastic form’. Did it out of attraction. Christian Zervos has written about the primitive form of Picasso’s art, “Picasso’s primitiveness is his own primitiveness. It is obviously not spontaneous….. It never once strays from reality” (Picasso’s primitive art is his It is our primitive art.
He was never able to leave the inanimate reality. Yamini Roy took inspiration from Kalighat paintings and Andhra artist Srinivasulu Rajaiah etc. created new types of paintings by taking inspiration from regional folk art, but their art school studies and their ideology do not hide from their paintings; As a result, his paintings do not reflect the heartfelt religious sentiments of folk art; instead of naturalness in his lines, the mastery sharpness achieved through study and a deliberate and systematic combination in the composition are clearly visible.
Matisse, Klee and other modern artists who wanted to be followed by admirers of children’s painting failed in their aim due to lack of childlike innocence. The basic psychological reason for all of them is that folk artists or artists driven by childlike simplicity of mind and ambition. I can’t be.
Ambition encourages an artist to work but at the same time there is a possibility of the naturalness of his art being destroyed and artificiality developing in it, especially after commercial success.
In short, there is no fault in the artist keeping his innate talent free and taking inspiration from other art styles. A glimpse of his innate talent will not fail to appear in his surgeon.
Rabindranath Tagore has written in this regard, “A sign of greatness in geniuses is their enormous power for borrowing, very often with- out knowing it.”
If we observe folk art with a view to finding similarities with other arts, what is seen? Figures like Modane or Hoi made during festivals are also found in primitive art. The sculptures of folk art sometimes look similar to primitive art and sometimes similar to the crude sculptures of Indian medieval temples.
In both primitive art and folk art, human sculptures of excellent natural form are found. Natural, modern, primitive and traditional forms can be seen in the masks made in folk art.
Folk arts became popular to fulfill the religious and aesthetic needs of rural life. According to Fraser Stevens Yeller and other scholars, the origin of folk art is Adi art.
Folk art is more developed than its original source primitive art and is influenced by traditional classical art but appears somewhat crude in front of it. The main reason for this is the diversity of the cultural complex.
Folk art is mostly practiced in villages where the social life is more civilized than the life of the tribals but more traditional and unchanged than the urban life.
Folk art also emerges in cities because there too, motivated by ambition, there are people who leave the villages and settle there, who take with them the rural traditional customs and religious beliefs.
Here, there is a possibility of some change in their lifestyle and art due to the courtly and foreign influences, but due to the unique power of traditional customs to bind the social life together, they cannot be abandoned easily and remain in the urban life. Folk art also remains with its traditional form.
Due to court or government encouragement, talented artists are attracted towards cities and by getting royal shelters (a) primitive art, Mirzapur rock shelters and Panchmarhi rock shelters, (b) folk art (Hoi), they enrich the classical art through their practice.
It is natural to see some changes in the form of folk art due to contact with classical art, but in such changes, folk artists do not pay special attention to the subtle differences in the elements of classical art.
This becomes clear when we compare the Padachitras with elite Rajasthani art. Art forms of folk art like Rangoli, Modane, Hoi are often created by housewives or family members.
Apart from this, artists have been creating other art forms like paintings of deities, paintings, murals, toys, artistic objects useful for life – which require special study and a lot of hard work – through tradition. Now, it is important to see what are the characteristics of folk art due to which it becomes distinct from other art forms.
It can be easily distinguished from the primitive art by the conservatism that comes in folk art due to continuous repetition of similar shapes and symbols used as per the religious imagination of a more civilized and stable and prosperous society based mainly on agricultural life.
Although there is variation in these symbols and shapes according to the difference in region and religious belief. From a comparative perspective, primitive art appears to be spontaneous and creative.
In comparison to the freehand drawing and original creation of primitive art, the line of folk art seems sharp and the method of composition seems pre-planned. In the primitive art of the same place, there is variation in the figures of humans and animals, whereas in folk art such figures appear as if they were carved from the same stone.
However, this defect appears to arise in most traditional art styles after their maturity. In primitive art, figures of humans and animals have been depicted using both geometric and naturalistic methods, but due to the dominance of naturalistic figures over time, geometric figures in folk art remained mostly limited to domestic religious depictions and were found in paintings, paintings of gods and The influence of natural form on the sculptures increased.
However, religious geometric symbols (e.g. swastika, cross) have been used in all types of folk art. In this way, while primitive art is not self-centred, the creative personality of the artist has some freedom like modern art, whereas folk art is disciplined and traditional.
Unlike a modern artist, a folk artist dedicated to religious and social purposes does not paint only for self-satisfaction. Folk art, like modern art, is not just the spiritual expression of the artist but is an expression of the emotions of the people.
In a way, considering the effect of form, folk art has got a place between primitive art and indigenous fine art, although in it more importance is given to the purpose rather than the features of form.
Situated between the unaccustomed primitive form of primitive art on one hand and the esoteric subtlety of the scripture-purified form of fine art on the other hand, it is natural for the attractive, assessable, appropriate and clear form of folk art to become popular among the general public and become highly popular. From the point of view of development of elements of art, prejudice Without thinking honestly, folk art cannot in any way be considered inferior to the many artefacts created in the name of modern art, but due to not being subjective and bound by tradition, there is a similarity in the works of folk art. Due to which one does not get the pleasure of variety and novelty.
In short, the most important quality of primitive art is the naturalness of the artist, whereas folk art has the simplicity of respect for the people and fine art has the maturity of practice.
Therefore, to measure the true importance of folk art, one has to understand its natural and artificial identity with folk life. The same identity gives him meaningful credit for his lifestyle rather than his artistic style.
Despite the neglect and lack of practicality in the development of artistic quality in folk art, it helps people in fulfilling their religious and cultural sentiments and makes an important contribution in the path of spiritual peace and leading a beautiful life. This is its meaning.
The most important function of art is to provide spiritual peace to humans. Mahatma Gandhi has even said, “The art which does not teach the soul to introspect is not art.”
Art can be successful in this task only when there is cooperation and emotional identification with the viewer. The greatest quality of folk art is that it faces no difficulty in the success of this work because it is comprehensible and completely aware of the feelings of the people.
Folk art is passed down through generations without any significant change in its external form. Bhajans, Kirtans, women’s songs, Ramleela, Krishnaleela Pandava Katha, staging of mythological and historical heroic tales, songs sung in the fields and while working, group dances, folk tales, grandmother’s stories, paintings based on religious rites. , figures, images of deities, frescoes, designs of clothes, all have been passed down from one generation to the next, just like real estate or priceless property.
Unlike modern art in which there is a competition of change of form day and night, change of form has no importance in folk art. If we consider the objectives for which folk art was born and developed and the success it achieved, then it will be easily understood why special attention is not paid to the change in form in folk art.
Folk art not only integrates into people’s religious functions and festivals but also into their daily life and fulfills their religious and auspicious feelings and aesthetic feelings; Folk tales, mythological tales and heroic tales open up a treasure trove of useful knowledge for them and are a source of inspiration.
Therefore, how can such a change be given place which causes disruption in this socially useful work? The external form also reaches the inner layer of the emotional life and influences it greatly and when the basic objective of folk art is to develop the emotional life of the people in a better direction, then how can the internalization of such a new form be acceptable in it which Hurt its basic purpose?
Folk art is not just the art of the artist. In this, people cooperate directly or through their easily understandable and accepted form of emotional identification.
In such a situation, which artist would take the risk of being deprived of the support received from the people by introducing a new form? Therefore, the belief that folk art does not change due to lack of talent or ambition is baseless.
Folk art is a part of social tradition which gives it a special and stable form and it is an empirical fact how difficult it is to break the tradition, especially when there is no harmful element in it.
It is not that no attention is paid to the development of artistic elements in folk art; Had this been the case, he would not have even received a personal special form. But the path of development of artistic elements of folk artists lies not in intellectual study and experimental work but in reliance on instincts and loyalty to the fundamental elements of tradition.
The path of development of fine arts is similar to the path of knowledge described in spiritualism, while the path of development of folk art is similar to the path of Bhakti. Thousands of years of experience have proved that the path of Bhakti is better for the common people; The path of knowledge creates confusion and uncertainty in them.
Folk art has emerged by keeping in mind the intellectual and emotional level of common people. The common man has no interest in scholarly discussions of philosophy and spirituality. For him, the rules of devotion and conduct written in simple language in religious scriptures have proved to be very suitable.
(All truths are told in simple words) We also see that despite the erudite discussions and debates of philosophers and scholars, no conclusions can be drawn from them which are unanimous and useful for all. Therefore, it is no surprise if folk artists have avoided rigorous theory and technical precision.
It is not possible for any art to completely escape external influences. Folk art has also been attacked by external influences from time to time, but folk art has accepted them to the extent that its raw and people-oriented form is not harmed.
The influence of the Company style on the Kalighat paintings, the influence of the temple crafts on the crafts of Molela and the woodcraft art of Karnataka and the contemporary influence of the subject on the paintings of Bhilwara are examples of this.
If, as a result of external influences, folk art deviates from its original objectives and traditions, then it will cease to be folk art and will remain just an immature ordinary art.
Whatever the art style, its ultimate goal is the experience of emotional identification and the revelation of truth. When under folk art, through religious paintings and sculptures and through art forms like bhajans, qawwalis, group dances, the joy of trance-like identification and knowledge of the inner truth of life through literature like saint-words, kirtans, folk tales etc. Even if people achieve it to the extreme, then who and why should think about the development of forms and creative skills from a theoretical point of view? This is the misconception of a high-brow, arrogant elite class, which has created divisions in the field of art and has relegated folk art to a lower category.
Religion and culture cannot be destroyed as long as the effect of the joy of identification that we get from folk art as a medium remains. It would not be an exaggeration to say that folk art has kept religion, culture, love of beauty and good thoughts alive in the society and bound it into unity.
Primitive art naturally attracts the lovers of modern art who are overwhelmed by the qualities similar to primitive art under folk art, while the influence of folk art on the common people and its ability to attract foreigners has drawn the attention of the administration towards it.
Therefore, both art lovers and administration are trying for the development of folk art in their own ways. But it is very important to take some precautions while promoting folk art for the purpose of development.
In comparison to political change, the process of change in social customs and loyalties is very slow. Their roots reach very deep into the earth.
Therefore, there is difficulty in bringing proper changes in the folk art closely related to them. The development of the form elements of folk art is not as important as the religious sentiment behind its creator, the idea of social appropriateness and protection of fidelity to tradition.
Folk artists must be given information about new techniques and mediums. But if along with that, they are encouraged to incorporate modern forms into folk art which are contrary to the original objectives of folk art, then folk art will neither remain folk art nor will it be able to become modern art.
Folk art will be properly called folk art only as long as it remains in close touch with the loyalties of the common people and is capable of providing them emotional experience.
Every art has its own characteristics and it should be allowed to develop with those characteristics so that the colorful and encouraging diversity of world beauty will remain.
To keep the creative spirit moving in the art of the world, it is necessary to have an inspirational genre. In short, folk art should be allowed to develop with forms suitable to it only by remaining committed to its specific social objectives, only then will its meaning remain.