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Art As Protest

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

When we think of art, we immediately imagine landscapes, portraits, scenery paintings, rainbows and colors, and all the beautiful things. But what we often fail to realize is that something as beautiful as art has every capacity in the world to be strong and powerful enough to stand up for what is right. Here is an insight to how art can be a medium to protest and be even more beautiful!


The right and moral way to protest against anything is non-violence, which possesses a much higher level of power, integrity and dignity. In various parts of the world, the years, decades, and even centuries spent by the citizens struggling to gain independence, have also seen a million protests in a million different ways. One of the most common ways to express agitation against something or someone, or to express support and joy in the spirit of patriotism, was art.

By art protest, it means how art can be used as a medium through which an action can be called for. The most common way of doing this was making posters, banners and boards with pictures, depictions, quotations, and illustrations representing strong emotions. The activists, revolutionaries, leaders and their supporters aimed at raising their voice against something in a way that it gathers the most support, arouses the feeling of national or communal pride, and an inexplicable urge to fight for what should be done.

Every protest done in different parts of the world, every rally, every strike, and every voice raised is supported by the visual representation of their emotions in the form of banners, posters and signboards. This showcases the power art holds and how it can contribute in changing the world for its betterment. Art acts as an informative tool as well as a necessary medium to raise social awareness, rightful consciousness, and the true power of expressions.


  • The symbols used by the artists, like the mark of peace, of victory, liberty, freedom and equality have risen from the power of art. Creating something that represents a powerful emotion multiplies the feeling exponentially.

  • Protest art is not just confined to religious or cultural communities, it covers a relatively larger aspect of the world and can be used as a form of expression for every rightful and moral purpose.

  • The sense of belongingness a citizen has when the nation or a cause is represented by a symbol or a banner is a different feeling altogether.

  • It is also extremely helpful in rapidly spreading information and ideas regarding social issues and hence, raise awareness.

  • Political and governmental bodies use art as a medium through which they can impart the beliefs they want their citizens to believe in, or to inculcate the surge of pride and patriotism in their hearts for their nation.

  • Bringing a higher power down to its needs or heightening an institution to gain support and power is something that can be achieved by the combination of powerful voices and the beauty of art.

  • Every social movement, in older times and even today, includes art in one form or the other, and maximizes the effect.


We are well aware of every struggle Indians went through under the dominance of British, but we can never completely imagine the immense pain and suffering imposed on them every day. During those times, in the spirit of Indian National Movement, art was used significantly as an expression of agitation, anger, rage and disappointment.

  • On the arrival of Simon commission in India, widespread protests were done all over the country with the slogan "go back Simon" in bold letters, with depictions of symbols as well.

  • When British urged to divide and break the unity of religious communities during the partition of Bengal, Abanindranath Tagore opposed and expressed his disappointment by creating the image of Banga Mata, who later came to be known as Bharat Mata.

  • Art was also used to glorify Indian history and achievements. The image of India as a country was looked down upon till the time people looked back to the ancestral times and believed in the pride, knowledge and wisdom imparted by the Vedas and religious texts.

  • The inventions and discoveries done by Indians, the folklore, folktales, and cultural stories and plays were depicted using pictures and illustrations in books and newsletters.

  • The information spread in the newspapers supporting the Indian National Movement was also expressed using miniature illustrations.

  • Paintings of Bharat Mata, the depiction of the national flag and images of Mahatma Gandhi's wheel to make Khadi urged a lot of Indians to fight for freedom and support the national cause.

I hope art, now, has a newfound respect and love in your heart, and it has been proved how art possesses more power, strength and beauty than one can ever imagine.

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