|As early as the 5th century, the Kamasutra stated that painting was an important and valued social accomplishment for the educated citizens of Indian society. This integral role of painting in Indian culture has resulted in an artistic lineage of great antiquity and extraordinary brilliance. Spanning four centuries, this exhibition provides a survey of this diverse, aesthetically rich tradition - reflecting the wide range of influences that have shaped – and which continue to shape – painting in India. |
The earliest Indian paintings were in the form of the bold, highly stylised narrative illustrations of the Jain manuscripts dating to the 14th to 16th centuries. These in turn influenced the Rajput paintings of the Hindu Maharajahs in Rajasthan, which frequently drew upon the imagery of the heroic deeds of the blue-god Krishna, or depicted sensual and poetic scenes of romantic love and longing.
During the opulent Imperial Mughal era, the painted manuscript was a prestigious emblem of power. Finely crafted and painted in lavish materials, then wrapped in precious silks, these works were a form of luxurious entertainment, designed to be held in the hand as a book, and viewed only in select company.
In contrast to these sumptuous court paintings, the folk art had no specific patron. Village artists produced images of various Hindu Gods and goddesses for festivals, births and marriages, or as souvenirs for hawking to tourists and worshippers visiting various centres of pilgrimage. Travelling storytellers painted narrative scrolls as the props of their trade. While these paintings lack the finish of the works produced at the courts, they have a liveliness and vigour which draws the viewer into their distant, intriguing worlds.
Colonial rule, industrialization and the rise of Nationalism in the 20th century caused further shifts in the development and patronage of Indian art, reflecting the struggle to achieve a modern and international, yet truly Indian aesthetic. Questions of identity remain central to the work of contemporary artists like Shanti Dave, Bhupen Khakar, Nalini Malani and Arpita Singh, whose works reflect the complexities of contemporary Indian culture, and signal yet another important moment in the history of Indian painting.
The exhibition features over eighty stunning paintings from the Gallery’s growing collection of Indian art, as well as from private collections, and will be accompanied by a colour brochure.
|On view:||Friday 6 April to Sunday 1 July 2001|
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain
|Telephone:||(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information (02) 9225 1790|
|Hours:||Daily 10am to 5pm|
(closed Easter Friday and Christmas Day)
|Admission:||Free of Charge|
|Media Information and Interviews:||Jan Batten, Press Office|
(02) 9233 1213
Above: A rajah of Jodhpur in ceremonial procession c.1820
Marwar style, Rajasthan
opaque watercolour with gold on paper