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Top 10 Contemporary Painters of India You Need to Know

“Indian art” has been a widely debated topic all across the globe. While traditional art forms depicted themes of mighty kings and their intriguing conquests, the modern version of Indian art took a more idiosyncratic turn.

Today, Indian art is not something that is designed simply to soothe the eye of the beholder.

Indian art is about depicting the changes in society. Every piece of art comes with a story, a narrative, and a strong message that delineates various things such as the history of colonization, division, women empowerment, feminism and a lot more.

In short, for any passerby, it can become a challenge to unravel the many nuances behind Indian art. This is why Indian art is coveted by many intellectuals, who cannot get enough of the various aesthetic vocabularies the contemporary Indian painters/artists bring into play.

That being said, today, we are going to streamline 10 of the most popular Indian painters who have secured their place in the global platform of contemporary art.

1. Zarina


Zarina is a celebrated contemporary Indian painter with a love for paper. She harbours a wish to pin down a sense of home via her monochromatic painting style. Her canvases and drawings feature elegant sculptures, which are layered in gold flakes. Her real identity is Zarina Hashmi, and she flaunts a background of mathematics.

Her true talents lie in creating impeccable drawings and she is one of the few female Indian artists of her generation who uses warmth and aesthetics to create a homely vibe via her paintings. Her style of work features muted palettes, geometrics and stark lines. She was also featured in “India’s first-ever national pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.”

Currently, she resides in New York!

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2. Atul Dodiya

Atul Dodiya

Another celebrated face in India when it comes to modern painting is Atul Dodiya. He is a painter who has a grand fan- following and some of his works sell in the range of £380,000 (Rs. 3.5 Crores). For instance, one of his latest works named, ‘Lodging in Somnath’ fetched a handsome sum of £357,000 (Rs. 3.3 Crores) in 2017 itself.

His artworks are themed on the political ideologies in India, and hence, are coveted by numerous art fanatics across the globe. The man mostly earns his profit via auctions where his pieces are sold for an immense amount of money.

3. Sheela Godwa

Sheela Godwa is a woman grounded on here earthly beliefs. She believes art is everywhere and her paintings depict everyday social events and the intricacies of human nature. Her themes feature myriad numbers of everyday affairs and are created out of many items present in the city.

She has been reported to use cow dung, human hair talisman, tar drums, incense and many other items of regular use, which help her create authentic sculptors and paintings.

One of her famous works include Behold (2009); this was made via using knotted rope swinging from car bumpers and suspended by using human hair plaits.

4. Bharti Kher

Bharti Kher

Bharti Kher is another contemporary Indian painter who was born in London. She moved to New Delhi to practice her contemporary art and indeed, she made a name for herself there instantly.

Her art mainly focuses on nature and animals and she often uses the “Indian bindi” in her art forms to give it a feminine touch. Her profit mainly comes from auctions, as her celebrated pieces are sold in millions.

For instance, “‘The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own’ sold for £1.1 million (Rs. 103 Crores).”

5. Nikhil Chopra

Nikhil Chopra

When contemporary Indian art is being discussed, one cannot ignore the poignant presence of Nikhil Chopra. This current artist resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and explores contemplative colonized drawings of modern India.

His theme includes painting collective history, autobiographies and nostalgia, which he blends artfully with icons and landscapes.

His paintings moreover flaunt, charcoal drawings of whimsical characters, which are so raw and real, that people are instantly drawn towards his art. He hails from Calcutta, but practices his art in Goa!

6. Jitish Kallat

Jitish Kallat

Jitish Kallat is an established Indian Contemporary painter who made a name for himself owing to his intriguing multi-sensory paintings/art.

He mainly features his paintings on Mumbai and its loud cacophonies. He focuses on highlighting the socio-political scenarios of the bustling city and brings the imperfect perfections of the city to life. Some of his paintings also flaunt the ironies of life and depict the lives of the working class in Mumbai.

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His art is raw, poignant, and this is why it sells at a hefty price at auctions. For example, in the Kallat’s auction, it was sold for £55,000 (Rs. 55 Lakhs).

7. Shilpa Gupta

Shilpa Gupta

Mumbai based Shilpa Gupta is another eminent contemporary painter known for depicting unique perceptions of human nature in art. She has acquired knowledge on numerous personalities and uses these to create art via sound, illustration and performance.

Her paintings aim to stimulate the mind and extend knowledge to their beholders. Via her art, she hopes to touch the souls of many communities in India.

8. Raqib Shaw

Raqib Shaw

Raqib Shaw is an Indian-born London-based painter who rose to fame at 33. His famous works sold for around 20 Crores in 2007 and thus, he is termed as one of the most expensive Indian artists.

Previously, Shaw had little recognition outside London. However, his paintings got him the much needed global attention as he showcased an acute eye for detail.

In fact, Shaw paints in various stages. The first one is done on paper, which is then moved to a panel. Then a stained glass liner is placed and this piece is completed with glitter and crystal for extra magnitude.

His themes of painting focus around literature, poetry and mythology!

9. Sahej Rahal

Sahej Rahal

One of the youngest faces in the realm of Indian art, you might know Sahej Rahal as the “Winner of the Forbes India Art Award in 2014.” His art stands out owing to its mystical vibe. He creates paintings, films, biomorphic sculptures, ritualistic performances via the help of salvaged furniture, clay, digital ephemera and everyday articles.

His art is themed on Japanese anime, pagan rituals and various Indian myths and legends. Captivating, indeed!

10. Subodh Gupta

Subodh Gupta

Husband to Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta is another contemporary Indian artist who is recognized globally for his unique paintings and art forms. He mainly focuses on sculptors and oil paintings, which are again sold in auctions for a hefty price.

For instance, the net worth of some of his art ranges around “£17,700 (Rs. 70 Lakhs) to £1.07 million (Rs. 10 Crores).” His classic style includes abstract art, which makes him a well-known figure among contemporary art aficionados in the world.

So, there you have it! The top 10 contemporary Indian painters who have made our country proud with their aesthetic language of hues and shades! Do check some of their best works when you can- just to give your eyes a feast!

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Written by Priyanka Mondal

In the backyard of IIMC, amidst chaos and euphoria of Journalism students, Priyanka finds herself among the intricacies of Tagore and festivities of Ruskin Bond. For her life is easy with these two stalwarts and she can live an eternity among them. A copywriter from the core, she nurtures a tiny cinephile, a shutterbug, and a foodie within her. Oh yes, she takes a great interest in human behavioral science and the Universe!

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