OF GODS AND MEN
THE BLANTON’S SUMMER EXHIBIT EXPLORES THE FASCINATING WORLD OF ANCIENT INDIA.
There’s no better way to understand a culture than through its stories, especially when they date back centuries and touch on universal themes, from love and bravery to loyalty and religion. “Epic Tales from Ancient India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art” will bring 90 delicate, colorful court paintings from the 16th through 19th centuries in South Asia to the Blanton Museum of Art in July. One of the most comprehensive collections of its kind outside of India, the exhibit will serve as a captivating entrée to important Indian and Persian stories.
Ray Williams, the museum’s head of educational affairs who is serving as managing curator for the exhibit, has thoughtfully arranged the works according to thematic narratives, dividing the space into clear sections. “These are epic stories very familiar in Indian and Persian cultures, presented in narrative sequence,” he says. The works vividly depict stories such as the different incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu, the adventures of Prince Rama, and a Persian poem about the kings of Iran. Complementing the exhibit are two Chola-period bronze sculptures from Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Music plays a huge role in these traditions, so visitors will hear ambient tunes as they soak in paintings illustrating song verses. UT graduate student Aruna Kharod will perform stories and dances in a beautiful, tented performance space, complete with colorful pillows for seating. A books and video area will enhance the experience.
Williams hopes the exhibit, which features explanatory text in both English and Spanish, will attract visitors and families new to these stories, as well as Austin’s Indian community. July 9-October 1, 200 E. MLK Blvd.; blanton museum.org
This opaque watercolor and gold painting from North India, circa 1T90, depicts a scene from the famous ancient Indian epic poem “Ramayana.” It follows the Punjab Hills exile of Rama (CENTER), accompanied by loyal brother Lakshmana and his love, Sita, who offers him a meal and looks of affection. The work is one of 90 from the San Diego Museum of Art’s bdwin Binney 3rd Collection that will be on display at the Blanton Museum of Art.