Art Market | Court, Epic, Spirit: Indian Art, 15th–19th Century

Posted in Art Market, exhibitions by Editor on February 21, 2022

Return of the Unfaithful Lover, Khandidta Nayika, ca. 1720, Nurpur, opaque pigment and gold on paper, 20 × 26 cm.

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From Luhring Augustine:

Court, Epic, Spirit: Indian Art, 15th–19th Century
Luhring Augustine Tribeca, New York, 26 January — 24 March 2022

Luhring Augustine, in association with Francesca Galloway, is pleased to present Court, Epic, Spirit: Indian Art, 15th–19th Century, a show of historical artworks from India opening on January 26. It marks the first time that Luhring Augustine has partnered with the London-based gallery Francesca Galloway, internationally renowned in the field of Indian art. Court, Epic, Spirit presents a variety of artworks including textiles, paintings, and courtly objects. The title of the exhibition refers to three key lenses through which to view the arts of India. With these organizing principles as a guide, these exceptional and iconic works of art can be more fully considered and understood.

A fine and grand 17th-century panel from a lavish royal tent is among the exhibition’s featured objects. The panel is part of an important group thought to have been produced in the Deccan, a region of central India. For both Rajput and Mughal rulers, tents were immensely important, especially to the latter given the nomadic lifestyle required to govern their vast empire.

Indian painting is above all a storytelling medium, created to illustrate epic texts. These narratives, and the paintings that accompanied them were an integral aspect of the region’s cultural traditions throughout this period. A work of particular importance in the exhibition is a recently discovered 16th-century painting from the early Imperial Mughal manuscript of the great epic, the Hamzanama (‘Story of Hamza’), one of the supreme achievements of Indian art. Commissioned by a young Emperor Akbar, it is the only known folio depicting this episode and represents a significant addition to the scholarship, not least because it was painted by Dasvant, a master artist in the Imperial atelier.

Also significant to the artistic output of the region were artworks focusing on worship—some depicting and enabling acts of revery, and some imbued with spiritual power. Hindu ragamala paintings depict verses that in turn evoke a mode of music. Through a very unusual group of 17th-century ragamala paintings, most likely from the northern Deccan, the connection between sound, image, and spirit can be explored. Their wild sense of color and proportion, coupled with stark architecture and sumptuous textiles, lend these paintings an assured and individual aesthetic. Another highlight of the show will be a masterpiece of painting on cloth illustrating Dana Lila, or Krishna playfully demanding a toll from the gopis. This type of Deccani pichhvai, a painted cotton temple cloth, is rare, with only a handful of examples in museum collections around the world.

An additional highlight of the exhibition is the facade of a magnificent late 18th- or early 19th-century Mughal-style pleasure pavilion, a large-scale architectural marvel. The pavilion, installed at our Bushwick location, is available to view by appointment. Court, Epic, Spirit: Indian Art, 15th–19th Century will be on view at the Tribeca location through 24 March 2022 and will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.

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