Kangra Arts Promotion Society (KAPS), is an NGO working for the promotion of arts of the greater Kangra region which comprises the current district of Kangra and surrounding areas that were once ruled by the Kangra Dynasty. Kangra was a flourishing empire and a renowned center of culture for the last millennium. It went in decline after the invasion of Mahmud of Gazhni in 1009. A revival started in late 14th century and the arts of Kangra reached their peak of glory with Kangra Miniature Paintings in the 18th century.
The purpose of KAPS is to ensure that the tradition of Kangra Paintings and other arts passes on to the future generations. Currently very few genuine “disciples” of old Kangra Schools (Gharana) survive. Many of them work in obscurity and live on meager earnings though associations with temples or sales to tourists of cheap reproductions. The genuine Kangra (like Mughal and Rajasthani) paintings are made with natural colors from stones and plants on acid-free paper prepared in a special way. Even the brushes are made in a very unique way from the hair of squirrels and bird feathers. A genuine Miniature painting usually has tremendous amount of detail (such as distinct leaves on trees and individual grass fronds) and can take weeks and even months to complete. The commercial versions are knocked out with common paints and papers in a matter of hours.
The objectives of KAPS are:
- Preservation of the arts of Kangra
- Encouragement of existing artists.
- Starting a school to teach the arts of Kangra.
- Building a treasure of old and new paintings for posterity
A number of prominent local persons and artists from Himachal are involved with the society. KAPS has already held an exhibition of Kangra Paintings at the Club House (McLeod Gunj) on the 16-17 June 2007 and at the Kangra Art Museum (Dharamsala) from 18-20 June 2007. A number of artists from Himachal including those from Kangra, Chamba and Shimla were present or were represented. Over 80 paintings were exhibited and a number of them also sold on the spot. The exhibition was opened by the Tourism Minister who also made a personal contribution and a promise to buy 50 paintings for display in various HP Govt locations.
One of the important achievements of KAPS is a School that has been started to ensure that the tradition can be passed on to younger generation. The school was inaugurated by the Governor of Himachal Pradesh. The school is currently located in temporary facilities made available by the Kangra Museum of Arts at Dharamsala. Currently there are 10 students. Each is given a monthly scholarship of Rs. 1,500. The current cost per student is about Rs. 30,000 per year. Our aim for next year is to increase the scholarship to Rs. 2,500 per month and to have at least 20 gifted students.
We welcome others to join us in our efforts and enrich KAPS through their association, ideas and efforts. Please contact any of the office bearers for further information.