Abstract art is said to use a shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Abstraction literally means distancing of an idea from objective referents. This in terms of visual arts denotes pulling a depiction away from any literal, representational reference points. Also referred to as nonrepresentational art, it varies in its degree of varying or straying away from the reference point. And many ancient cultures seem to have adapted long before it was given a specific definition as it is known today.
Abstraction was not a new concept to India. Though it was a less prevalent, was practiced in ancient India in unique carvings. The strange animal depicted here is a carving found in the ancient Airavatesvara Temple, Vittala temple in Hampi as well as the Vellore fort.
Dating back to 850 years ago, such clever illusions were created by Indian artists. Here a young elephant shares its head with a full-grown bull. With the elephant’s crown of head shaping the bull’s muzzle, a curled-up trunk forming the hump of the bull, the bull’s horns become the tusks while the bull’s ears form the mouth of the elephant.