August 10, 2016

New Exhibit at PUAM Features South Asian Art

Art Rev_1

EPIC TALES FROM INDIA: In this artwork from the Princeton University Art Museum’s new exhibit, the demon Dhumraksha leads his army to attack Hanuman, ca. 1705, Kulu, India. (San Diego Museum of Art, Edwin Binney 3rd Collection. Princeton University Art Museum.)

One of the most significant collections of South Asian painting outside of India will be on view in an exhibition of narrative art at the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM). Encompassing more than 90 paintings representing the major narratives, regions and styles of South Asian art from the 16th through the 19th century, Epic Tales from India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art will be on view from November 19, 2016 through February 5, 2017. The paintings, which are drawn almost exclusively from the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art, will be arranged by book or literary category, allowing individual paintings to be seen as part of larger narratives.

“The art of the Indian subcontinent comprises one of the world’s richest cultural traditions,” noted James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “This
exhibition is our most ambitious exploration of South Asian art to date, and is essential viewing for anyone interested in the vital connections among visual art, music, literature and religion.”

Edwin Binney 3rd (1925–1986), an heir to the Crayola fortune, amassed one of the finest and most encyclopedic collections of South Asian painting outside of India. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art includes more than 1,400 works of art created during the 12th through 19th centuries, at the Mughal, Deccani, Rajasthani and Pahari courts.

The exhibition is curated by Marika Sardar, associate curator of southern Asian and Islamic art at the San Diego Museum of Art. The organizing curator at the PUAM is Zoe S. Kwok, assistant curator of Asian art. Epic Tales from India will subsequently travel to the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin and the San Diego Museum of Art.

The exhibition will present paintings from the Bhagavata Purana, one of Hinduism’s 18 great histories; the Ramayana, one of the longest ancient epic poems in world literature; the Ragamala, a set of verses that celebrate a range of musical melodies and expression, a favored subject in later Indian court paintings; and works of Persian literature, including the Shahnama, or Book of Kings, written by the Persian poet Firdausi.

A 150-page illustrated publication, edited by Sardar, will accompany the exhibition, as will a slate of affiliated programs, including a lecture by the curator, family day activities and a film series.

Contemporary Stories: Revisiting Indian Narratives, an exhibition organized by the PUAM in conjunction with Epic Tales from India, will consider the continuing power and role of narrative in South Asian art by practitioners based in post-partition India and Pakistan and abroad. Featuring major works by internationally renowned artists such as Shahzia Sikander and from the PUAM collections as well as loans from private collections the artists and their galleries—the exhibition suggests the varied ways in which Indo-Pakistani artists draw on the past while grounding their work unambiguously in the realities of the 21st century. Contemporary Stories will be on view in Princeton from October 22, 2016 through January 22, 2017.

The PUAM is located on the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.