The Paintings of India: The Ajanta Caves
Free to Seniors
India, Benoy K. Behl, 29 min.
Filmmaker Benoy Behl set out to dispel the idea that “Indians had learned the art of painting from the Mughals and the British,” instead choosing to show the continuity of the painting tradition in India beginning in ancient times. Starting from the murals of Ajanta made more than 2,200 years ago, the series covers an extensive range which leads to Indian painting in modern times.
This pioneering project set out to shoot the great treasures of Indian wall paintings and miniatures. This proved to be a Herculean task, as masterpieces of Indian miniature paintings are spread over scores of private collections and museums all over India and around the world. Furthermore, many Indian mural paintings exist in remote sites all over the country. Many of them are extremely difficult to shoot in their dark and constricted locations; Paintings of India captures and presents art that has never been clearly photographed or shown to the world before.
The Ajanta Caves were rediscovered in 1819. The exquisite paintings found in these caves are the fountainhead of the classic tradition of painting in India. The creative impulse of Ajanta, the compassion and grace of its paintings, and the high degree of skill involved in making them form the basis of paintings to come in later times in India.
The caves are dark and the Archaeological Survey of India does not permit the use of strong lights as these would fade the ancient murals; therefore, the true colors and details of the paintings have remained largely unseen until now.