Smithsonian show revels in the wonders of the White City of India


Presented as a journey through an enchanted region, “Enchanted Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur” ends with two large cosmic scenes that depict the universe in often symbolic terms. But one of the images features Udaipur – known as India’s White City for its granite and marble palaces – set not far from the centre. According to the court artists, their hometown is in the space of the gods.

By the time visitors arrive at this Arthur M. Sackler Gallery exhibition, they will be well prepared to acknowledge the celestial location of Udaipur. The 63 works of art in the exhibition, which is presented in association with the City Palace Museum in Udaipur, show how the 18th century painter gave a literal twist to traditional Indian art. Around 1700, master craftsmen moved from Persian-influenced miniatures to large-scale tableaux, painted in the same style but on a larger scale. The pictures they post are like Bollywood movies.

Near the opening of the show, just past the introductory video of the city sitting on a large lake, there are three small paintings made in the century before the main work that dominates this selection. The literary-themed image includes an episode from the Ramayana, one of the great Hindu epics. In the last room, along with the dream maps, the divine figures return. This time, however, they were shown at a location in Udaipur. Krishna and Shiva found heaven on earth.

Also Read :  'I work less than 2 hours a day on it'

Udaipur, now a tourist destination in Rajasthan in northwestern India, was founded in 1553. Six years later, construction began on its City Palace, which was enlarged several times until 1930. (photo (one showing progress over the years.) Other palaces were also built on the man-made lakes and reservoirs that dot the mountainous area, including summer residences built on small islands. one that seems to float on the surface of the water.

Water is central to Udaipur, and the splash of waves is one of the featured sounds in the soundtrack, which was composed by Indian experimental filmmaker Amit Dutta. (Bird calls, elephant trumpets and zither plucked are also heard.) Among the sumptuous paintings, done on gilded paper, is a depiction of a procession of religious festival boats. one, which is seen by a large crowd on the shore. The expansive scene is one of the most strikingly detailed attempts to convey the bhavaor mood, of Udaipur and its people.

Also Read :  Feasibility studies for development of Etihad Stadium entertainment destination are underway

Even more tender and dramatic is a picture of a group of men on horseback riding down a river during a thunderstorm, wading through gray water under a purple sky that is pierced by scarlet lightning. The composition is less busy and more centered than usual in these paintings, which reflects its modernity. The painting was done around 1893 by an artist named Shivalal. (Many of the other artists included here remain anonymous.)

The scenes of the other great paintings are not immediately recognizable because they are broad in scope and seasons. Udaipur artists often depicted, in a single image, many events over a period of time. This is the most distinctive of the pictures of the hunt, shown in a gallery where the sound of drums and horns can be seen as the animals are being taken out of the forest.

One such painting includes what appear to be 14 tigers but actually represent — in a single composition — 14 positions of an animal as it tries to escape a hunting party. Shown from a vantage point far above the action, the painting casually looks forward to both moving images and drones.

Also Read :  Best of Books 2022 | Christianity Today

“Beautiful Earth” also seems to refer to another modern development: the environment. As co-curators Debra Diamond and Dipti Khera note in the show’s catalog introduction, Indian art has long emphasized “the body of the divine and the royal human.” But in the 1700s in Udaipur, artists expanded their vision to lakes, forests and mountains. The people in the paintings – even the kings who commissioned them – are small figures in the context of the natural world.

Some 300 years after these pictures were taken, it’s clear that environmental awareness is no match for hunting endangered species. But 18th century Udaipur art can be seen as a step towards a greater understanding of nature. Or he can be admired simply for his intricate detail, his wonderful skill and his enthusiasm. bhava. Even as they showed a new appreciation for their natural environment, the artists of Udaipur depicted their city as a sublime place that would appeal to gods as surely as to humans.

Beautiful Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, National Museum of Asian Art, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. for free.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button