Rare exhibition of India's painting traditions at SmartWorks never before on display in the United States -- and rarely seen anywhere in the world -- will be on view at the Smart Museum of Art in the exhibition "From the Ocean of Painting: India's Popular Painting Traditions, 1589 to the Present." The show opens today, Jan. 19, and continues through Sunday, March 12. A daylong symposium and an opening reception will be held on Saturday, Jan. 21.
The first American exhibition to comprehensively survey India's ethnic arts -- as distinct from "high art" created through aristocratic patronage -- the exhibition includes work from India's peasant villages, remote tribal settings and urban centers. Artists range from professionals to amateurs, reflecting the common incorporation of the arts into everyday life in India. Painted temple cloths, intricate illustrations of religious events, painted leather shadow puppets, manuscript illustrations, fortunetelling cards and reverse painting on glass are on display alongside stylized portraits and adventure scenes.
Organized around ritual, iconic and narrative themes, the exhibition includes 101 works spanning more than 20 painting traditions from 25 regions. Despite the wide range of media and styles, the paintings share such characteristics as recurring motifs, bold design, bright color and the use of both imagery and text.
Special programming to complement the exhibition will begin with the opening-day symposium, "Popular Painting Traditions in India and Their Impact on Contemporary Art and Culture," from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in Kersten 115 (see the Calendar, pages 6-8). The symposium, co-sponsored by the Committee on Southern Asian Studies and the trustees of the ILA Foundation, will provide an overview of the material in the exhibition and will examine how India's popular painting traditions have been appropriated by and incorporated into the work of contemporary artists, both in India and abroad. A reception, from 5 to 7 p.m., will follow in the Smart Museum.
In addition, books relating to the exhibition are on display on the first floor of Regenstein Library and will remain on view through Tuesday, Jan. 31.
The Smart Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.