The Body In Indian Art

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart introduces The Body In Indian Art, one of the exhibitions part of Europalia- India in Belgium

New York: Whether it is physical culture, dance, adornment, yoga, Ayurveda- no civilization has had a fascinating interpretation and thorough understanding of the Body as India.

A Late Gupta Mask in Silver from Al Sabah, Kuwait.

A Late Gupta Mask in Silver from Al Sabah, Kuwait. Image Credit: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/evoking-india/article5171360.ece

Indian art uses a unique framework to examine and represent the intricacies of the body. Curator Naman Ahuja invites the viewer to explore the essential elements of the Body and what drives Indian bodies. Ahuja aims to answer questions such as where do society’s archetypes of heroism and valour rest? What motivates abstinence and asceticism? How does a civilisation view the rites of passage, death, and birth? To what extent do Indians believe that the body’s fate is destined / predetermined, and to what degree is fortune in the hand of those people who shape it for themselves?

An Egg Symbolising the Universe by Subodh Gupta.

An Egg Symbolising the Universe by Subodh Gupta. Image Credit: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/evoking-india/article5171360.ece

Belinder Dhanoa, editor of the catalogue for the exhibition, says that the exhibition  “reveals the body not only as the subject of art, but also as the medium used to convey the values, preoccupations and aspirations of the times. Through sculpture and painting we’re going to showcase visualizations of concepts as diverse as the ascetic, the heroic and supernatural bodies; and display artworks that examine and record some of the philosophical and aesthetic threads that run through the centuries. Through art, the body will be shown as a site for defining individual identity, constructing sex and gender ideals, negotiating power, and experimenting with the nature of representation itself.”

A Painting on Display at "The Body of Indian Art" at Europalia 2013.

A Painting on Display at “The Body of Indian Art” at Europalia 2013. Image Credit: http://in.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/968976/sneak-peek-at-europalias-the-body-in-indian-art-show

The exhibition thus takes one on a journey from death to rebirth, forces of fate to power of human action and much more, encapsulating themes of religion, aesthetics, philosophy, and cosmology.

Surasundari, a Sandstone Sculpture from Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Surasundari, a Sandstone Sculpture from Indian Museum, Kolkata. Image Credit: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/evoking-india/article5171360.ece

Go discover the 250 enchanted treasures of ancient India from temples, tiny provincial museums, archaeological institutes and private collections in the pursuit of discovering the multifaceted complexities of the Body.

The exhibition is on view as part of Europalia-India at the Centre of Fine Art in Brussels until January 5, 2014. More information about this captivating exhibit can be found here.

EUROPALIA!

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart talks about the upcoming European international art festival that will celebrate the cultural heritage and contemporary arts of India

Europalia.India banner

New York: Europalia is a major international arts festival held every two years in Europe. It aims to celebrate the cultural heritage of a selected country through different kinds of programs that are hosted all over Europe. Its name is a combination of two words: “Europe” and “Opalia,” an ancient Roman harvest festival held in mid-December in honour of Ops, earth-goddess and fertility deity. Her name lies at the root of the Latin word “Opus”, that denotes a work of art.

Since its debut in 1969, Europalia has organized around twenty three festivals. The festival runs from October to February and boasts of a diverse program that includes music, dance, theater, art, literature, photography and cinema. The venues are spread all across Brussels, other Belgian cities and neighboring countries. Through this unique initiative, Europalia hopes to provide the guest country an opportunity to present their cultural heritage and contemporary art practices to the rest of the world, which in turn would promote better understanding between countries and further cultural exchange between global citizens from around the world.

2013 is India’s year! Each festival enjoys the patronage of the King of Belgium and the guest country’s Head of State.

The Europalia festival strives to include every cultural aspect of the guest country, from past national treasures to contemporary works, from the arts, science and fashion to design, folklore and even gastronomy. This all-inclusive approach makes Europalia a vibrant festival pulsating with life. Working closely with the guest country enables the festival to showcase outstanding works and experiences that have not be accessible to a larger global audience.

The spirit of the festival encourages and fosters partnerships and collaboration between artists and performers. During each festival, Europalia invites celebrated artists to create a project that throws new light on a creative discipline other than their own, bringing an element of surprise and new creativity to the fore. It presents a heady mix of the past, present and the future- with many artists, who have met via this platform, collaborating on future ventures.

Select highlights from the upcoming festival

NALINI MALANI: BEYOND PRINT, HISTORY, TRANSFERENCE, MONTAGE
A self-curated debut exhibition of the Indian artist in Belgium, this show has a lot to offer. Consisting of a selection of her works, from her first artist books to big digital prints and video projections, to unseen works which are part of the collection of the Centre de la Gravure, including a collaborative project with students.

Nalini Malani - Listening to the Shades2 - 2008 © Nalini Malani-courtesy Burger Collection – Zurich. Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/nalini-malani_136.html

Nalini Malani – Listening to the Shades2 – 2008 © Nalini Malani-courtesy Burger Collection – Zurich. Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/nalini-malani_136.html

THE BODY IN INDIAN ART
Curated by Naman Ahuja, the exhibition brings together 250 masterpieces from approximately 50 of India’s museums, archaeological institutes, and private collections, in an exploration of the complex and multifaceted understandings of the ‘Body’ in Indian art. This exhibition reveals the body not only as the subject of art, but also as the medium used to convey the values, preoccupations and aspirations of the times.

Apsara, Hoysala Karanataka, 12-13th c, National Museum New Delhi. Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/the-body-in-indian-art_89.html

Apsara, Hoysala Karanataka, 12-13th c, National Museum New Delhi.
Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/the-body-in-indian-art_89.html

SUSHEELA RAMAN AT VALENCIENNES, FRANCE
The British Indian artist known for her sensual voice mixed with rhythms and melodies that she carefully blends has earned critical acclaim and an international following. A trained carnatic vocalist, her mesmeric voice and style of singing which blends different musical traditions while maintaining a quintessential Indian soul, sets her apart from her contemporaries.

Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/susheela-raman-_110.html

Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/susheela-raman-_110.html

CHARISHNU BY LEELA SAMSON
One of India’s leading dancers, Samson brings together in this brilliant and rare production, several pre-eminent dancer and choreographers and their troupes to showcase the richness of India’s dances and martial and percussion arts. Charishnu, literally ‘the desire to move’, will in a single presentation showcase different dance styles, each in dialogue with the other, culminating in a spectacular finale.

Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/charishnu_93.htm

Image Credit: http://www.europalia.eu/en/article/charishnu_93.htm

For additional information about the festival click here.

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