Media office

Archives 2010
Archives 2009
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000

Intimate encounters 

Vasant Ragini lotus clad Todi

The history of traditional Indian painting is a sumptuous tapestry of interwoven traditions interests, and connections. Drawing from collections throughout Australia, both public and private, this exhibition of more than 70 works surveys the major schools of Indian painting, highlighting the rich interactions that inspired each tradition.

Indian painting is the result of varied intimate encounters: Islam with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism; the mighty Mughals with the romantic Rajputs; European outsiders with native populations; the artist with the patron; the coloniser with the colonised.

The exhibition is divided into 4 sections: Pre-Mughal Past, The Mughals, The Rajputs and The Colonial Enterprise. The Pre-Mughal Past introduces the painting traditions that existed in north and northwest India prior to the Mughal Dynasty (1526-1885). The Mughals presents splendid examples of painting created under the aegis of the most influential Islamic dynasty to rule the subcontinent. The Rajputs is divided into two subsections. The first focuses on the painting produced for the Hindu rulers of a number of independent kingdoms in the desert state of Rajasthan in northwest India, and the second includes works from the Rajput principalities of the Punjab Hills, the region at the foothills of the Himalayas. The final section surveys the dramatic changes that occurred under British colonial rule.

On display is a charming painting from the Punjab Hills region that the Art Gallery of New South Wales recently acquired. It shows the Hindu god Krishna and his beloved Radha covered from head to toe in lotus petals. The divine couple share a playful, intimate moment in the midst of a lush garden, by the edge of a lotus pool. The rich colours and the special fondness for depicting nature are typical of paintings from the Punjab Hills.

Chaya Chandrasekhar, the gallery’s curator of South and Southeast Asian Art selected the works for the exhibition and said:

The manifold connections and interactions that led to the production of traditional Indian paintings are as rich, as complex and as captivating as the subjects they depict. The selection of works in this exhibition provides a glimpse at this seductive world of intimate encounters.

Later this year Chaya will take up the Art Gallery Society 2008 travelling scholarship to conduct research on museum collections in India.

Celebrating Asian Art and Culture


On view:Friday 22 February to Sunday 4 May 2008
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information (02) 9225 1790
National Toll Free 1800 679 278
Hours:10am to 5pm, 7 days a week
Art After Hours Wednesday nights until 9pm
Media Information and Interviews:Claire Martin, Press Office
(02) 9225 1734 or 0414 437 588

IMAGE CREDIT: Vasant Ragini, c1770 opaque watercolour with gold on paper; Lotus-clad Radha and Krishna circa 1700-1710 opaque watercolour on paper; Todi Ragini, late Mughal circa 1720-1857 India, late 18th century. All works Collection Art Gallery of New South Wales