The Rajput painter had inherited a legacy of mural
painting as well as the art of the book. He devised a pictorial
scheme with colour as a principal means of visual articulation.
Conspicuously he retained the colour of complexions, costumes
and architecture as local, while playing up the tenor of the natural
environment in low or high key, or changing them altogether from
their normal hues.
(The blue complexion of Krishna is maintained
as normal, hence considered local and not exceptional.) The strength
of many Rajput paintings rests in balancing the tension of the
two. It meant that the world of natural environment was conceived
through the eyes of human images who inhabited it and not through
an 'objective' view from outside. It afforded the artist an opportunity
to improvise a colour scheme to match the mood of the image portrayed
through the environment, approximating its fluctuations by raising
or lowering the tenor of colour.
Colour is not viewed empirically as a consequence
of refraction of light , hence its use is not necessarily descriptive.
This counters the notion of colour being local to objects of optical
perception-so integral to illusionistic art. It however refers
to light metaphorically as a source that vivifies, heightens or
mellows (in short transforms) the field of vision. But light here
should be distinguished from daylight or artificial light with
their contingent shadows. Dark and shadows as means of formal
articulation and concealment-so predominant a factor in European
painting, are also conspicuously absent here. The night scenes,
except in the very late miniatures increasingly under the influence
of European art, are usually rendered in full or filtered light
of the moon or lamps with total visibility and night's presence
indicated by conventional symbols.
This distinguishes it from
the representation of atmosphere in European painting as well.
The Impressionist use of colour to represent light and air is
equally alien to Rajput painting. In the Impressionist scheme,
the change of colour meant a negation of browns and blacks as
shadows and an aesthetic confirmation of the new theory of light
according to the invention of the prism. Though a departure in
some measure from the conventional modes, it was basically within
the ambit of optical appearance related to illusionism. For the
Rajput, this was antithetic to the nature of his perception of
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