This Spring, the Peabody Essex Museum
opens an exhibition revealing visual conversations between Indias contemporary and traditional artists. ReVisions: Indias Artists Engaging Traditions presents fourteen contemporary works in tandem with traditional pieces exemplifying the artists source of inspiration, including Mughal court painting, medieval temple sculpture and photography. Featuring objects from PEMs renowned Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection of 20th-century Indian art and considerable holdings of traditional Indian art forms, as well as the Harvard Art Museums exceptional collection of art from the royal courts and temples of India, ReVisions will be on view from April 4, 2009 through April, 2010.
We are delighted to collaborate with our sister institution, Harvard Art Museum, on ReVisions. The opportunity to draw upon Harvards remarkable collection as a complement to our own enables PEM to share the great depth and breadth of Indian art with our guests, said Dan Monroe, Executive Director of the Peabody Essex Museum.
Susan Bean, Curator of South Asian and Korean Art at the Peabody Essex Museum said, This exhibition is an enjoyable means to understanding 20th century Indian art, which at first glance may appear derivative of Western contemporary trends, but in fact draws its inspiration from many sources, particularly five thousand years of Indias rich artistic traditions.
Looking Forward, Back, and Around the World - With thousands of years of history and centuries of colonial rule, artists working in India today draw upon local themes and techniques while maintaining connections with the global art world. From without and within, the influence of many cultures and artistic practices can be perceived in the works of artists such as M.F. Husain, Gieve Patel and Ravinder Reddy. Dynamic modern canvases and three-dimensional works mine the past for ideas about composition, color, subject and materials.
Among them, Jogen Choudhury playfully calls to a popular subject depicted in many styles from Rajput court art to vernacular Tanjore glass painting -- the image of a lady of rank gazing at a flower. Intended to lend refinement to the subject, the figure contemplates natural beauty, or perhaps yearns for an absent lover. Choudhurys Waiting for Her Lover substitutes the traditionally lithesome figure with a robust woman of a certain age, gazing at a wilted blossom with as much romantic passion as any epic heroine.
Similarly, Ravinder Reddys shining Woman 95 could be anyones office colleague dipped in gold. With her fashionable accessories, red lipstick and nail polish, she seems quite contemporary but for the celestial gleam of her flesh. The penetrating gaze and golden patina suggest that she is a divine presence, like the stone sculpture of the temple goddess, Sarasundari standing nearby. Borrowing from the grace and power of classical Hindu forms, Woman 95 refers to contemporary woman and ancient deities in the same breath, leading the viewer to reflect on the nature of feminine power, cosmic or human.