Krannert to host exhibition displaying Indian art


Aki Akhauri

Allyson Purpura (Senior curator) and Tim Fox (Design and installation specialist) installing the “Hand to Hand: Painting and the Animation of History in Northern India” exhibit at Krannert Art Museum. 02/21/19.

By The Daily Illini staff report

The Krannert Art Museum’s new art exhibit, “From Hand to Hand: Painting and the Animation of History in Northern India” will be unveiled for public viewing on Feb. 28.

The art pieces in the exhibit consists of paintings created in India from the late 1500’s to the early 1800’s. The pieces include Hindu epics, love poetry and portraits of Rajput royals. Many of the Indian paintings were donated by well-known collectors such as Alvin O. Bellak and George P. Bickford.

“We’ve declared 2019 the Year of the Collection, and Krannert Art Museum is using many of our exhibitions to shine a light on truly important artwork,” Julia Kelly, the communications director, said in an email. “These paintings show the deep history of this region, with a long tradition of art making, that is important to show.”

These paintings are not just a representation of Indian history but also were intended to connect people through their stories. Kelly said that these pieces were often viewed in “picture sessions” which creates as sense of intimacy for the viewers. Moreover, some of the pigments used in these pieces of art were created by grinding semi-precious stones, making these painting dear and all of the more intimate.

These small pieces of art were not just viewed for pleasure, but also played an active part in Indian social culture and daily life.

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“They were handled and shared, not hung on a wall; they affirmed political allegiances, expressed religious devotion, aided in storytelling and reciting poetry, visualized musical moods,” Allyson Purpura, the curator of global African art, said in an email.

These art pieces also have a modern application.

“You know, right now life is pretty contentious and people seem to find all sorts of things that divide us,” said Kelly. “I hope ‘From Hand to Hand’ opens their eyes to the role art can play in forming and keeping relationships.”

Furthermore, this is a unique experience for students as many of these paintings have never been viewed, Purpura said. A lot of these paintings also had to be conserved and made stable for viewing. This was accomplished through a grant with the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

There will also be events at the museum relating to the new exhibit including a performance by members of the student organization Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth. In addition, there will be two gallery conversations on March 28 and April 11.

“It will be a great chance to experience not just the art, but the richness of Indian culture. It’s something really wonderful to have right here on our campus,” said Kelly.

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