OF GODS AND MEN

THE BLAN­TON’S SUM­MER EX­HIBIT EX­PLORES THE FAS­CI­NAT­ING WORLD OF AN­CIENT IN­DIA.

Austin Way - - SCENE | STYLE | SPACE - BY KATHY BLACKWELL

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.

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