Rediscovering The Ancient Art Of Body Painting
Body painting was first found among the tribal communities of older civilisations. As a defence strategy, they would paint themselves with vegetable dyes to assume a menacing form that would keep other clans away from their settlements. This strategy later took a modern form with armies wearing war paint to camouflage themselves in the jungles.
Body painting has also become a part of the world of dance. Some dance forms such as the Indian Kathakali and American Paint Dancing too make elaborate use of paint to highlight the dancer’s expressions and gestures and add to the aesthetics of the dance.
Besides being a part of popular art forms, body painting is a common sight at auspicious occasions such as weddings and festivals in certain Asian countries especially. Mehndi, a natural dye from the henna plant, is applied in many countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Egypt at weddings, festivals and other special occasions to decorate a woman’s arms and feet with intricate designs. Alta, a red dye is also used in India and Bangladesh for similar purposes.
Body painting has evolved over the years, as new artistic movements such as minimalism and modernism made greater use of the human body as the canvas for groundbreaking artistic expression and the live sculptures were displayed at popular art exhibitions, as was beautifully depicted in the Hollywood movie Step Up Revolution. The ancient art form persists even today and still continues to find newer avenues for expression, as artists get together to use it in more of their work to create their best masterpieces.