Indian paintings traditions go back to antiquity, as is evident from the murals of Ajanta, Ellora and other frescoes, the Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts, the Jain texts and the Deccan, Mughal and Kangra schools of miniature Indian painting.
Indian Painting is an old tradition, with ancient texts outlining theories of color and and anecdotal accounts suggesting that it was common for households to paint their doorways or indoor rooms where guests resided. Cave paintings from Ajanta, Bagh and Sittanvasal and temple paintings testify to a love of naturalism.
Indian paintings provide an aesthetic continuum that extends from the early civilization to the present day. This form of art in India is vivid and lively, refined and sophisticated and bold and vigorous at the same time. From being essentially religious in purpose in the beginning, Indian paintings have evolved over the years to become a fusion of various traditions which influenced them.
At first glance, an Indian miniature painting, to the uninitiated, appears nothing more than a clutter and tangle of pastoral settings, dominated by masculine and feminine figures. Yet these scenes are not detached visions of artistic expression but provide the basis of Indian music and art forms. Most of these masterly works are visual creations of emotional and perceptive concepts that depict the ragas or musical modes of Indian classical music. Miniature painters employed at various medieval courts, discovered the potential of limitless self-expression in their depiction and today there are 130 known sets of such
miniatures. The Indian paintings have now acquired a stature of their own. They use materials and techniques from all over the world but express Indian realities and Indian experiences.
The respect for tradition and the ability to transcend it at the same time is clearly evident in Indian art of today. This is the essence of what has been described as the eclecticism of the Indian contemporary expression.
Starting with the Bengal school, many contemporary painters have been influenced by modern styles.