A View of Shalimar Bagh, Kashmir (detail)
Leaf from an album made for Antoine Polier,
Chief architect in the Kingdom of Oudh.
Lucknow, India. Circa 1780
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper.
45.5 x 62 cm
Asia Week New York, 2015
The title Flower Garden is inspired by a talk last year referring to the gardens of the Taj Mahal – a reflection of heaven on earth. The best Indian paintings and drawings are ‘mini gardens’ that evoke the sublime and the metaphysical in the viewer.
The emperor Jehangir’s memoirs of Kashmir reflect an intense engagement with flora, which traces its roots in the core of Islamic culture, and merges with sub-continental notions of fertility to create a new language. From the advent of the Mughal Empire, flora erupts in Indian design across mediums, assuming new forms and takes a remarkable evolutionary quest.
It is a pleasure to present a group of classical Indian paintings for Asia week New York 2015 that approach the theme of the ‘Garden’ on more than one level – literal, metaphorical and symbolic. The works come from diverse courts of North, Central and Western India.
The selection of works includes an imperial painting from the Zafarnama, made for Akbar, a mystic who was also Emperor; a resplendent image of Abdullah Qutb Shah of Golconda, who adorns a garden upon his robe. Flora and paradisiac imagery flourish in four Ragamala paintings, visual representations of classical music, from the North Deccan and Bundi in Rajasthan. A recently discovered, penetrating Mughal portrait of a courtier from the Muhammad Shah period offers a window into an inner ‘garden’, while a vista of Shalimar Bagh, from the Polier Album– is a literal recreation of paradise by the emperor-aesthete Nuruddin Jehangir.
Exhibition to be held at Arader Gallery, 1016 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021
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