Friday, February 01, 2013

Next Up at PEM, an Unexpected Delight

I went to the press preview for "Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence" fully expecting not to like it. There, I've said it. But I could not have been more incorrect in my initial assumptions -- I do not just like it, I really like it a lot!

I realized as I walked through that this art was important to me personally, because it helped me grow in my knowledge of a part of the world I had just recently begun learning about. You see, about 18 months ago an exchange student from India came into our lives somewhat accidentally.  Then, late last year I saw a list of books on a website someplace, and that list was something like "100 Books You Should Read Before You . . . " I checked off all of the books I had read on that list, and there were only about 40 left to read, so I thought I would at least take a look at them on my Kindle (I love that about Kindle -- the fact that you can download a free sample before committing to buying the whole book.)

The first book I chose was A Fine Balance by Mistry. I adored that book. I was sad when it was over, because I felt like I lost a lot of really interesting friends. The important thing for you to know in the context of this narrative is that that book was set in a large (fictitious) seaside city in India, from about the mid-1950s to the late 1970s or so. That puts the timing right in the middle of this collection of art from "Midnight to the Boom".  In walking through the exhibit I felt I had a lot of my "friends" from that book back in my life.

Of course now you are wondering if you have to read that book in order to enjoy this show, and I would have to say "absolutely not" and here is the reason why -- yet again PEM has created a way to display art that encompasses the culture that helped to create the art.  That alone puts it in context and displays it in a way that makes it very interesting, and when that is coupled with the great space that PEM has to display their exhibits, we have yet another wonderful show to see right here in Salem, MA.

So what is the title of this show all about? Here is PEMs own brief description of the show from their website:

Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after IndependenceFrom the Peabody Essex Museum's Herwitz Collection
February 2, 2013 - April 21, 2013
When the clock struck midnight on August 15, 1947, India's independence from British rule fueled a revolutionary art movement that continued through the economic boom of the 1990s. Newly unfettered by traditional cultural expectations, three generations of Indian artists embraced their individual identities, stayed true to their roots and embraced the world's artistic community.
Nearly 60 works by 23 leading artists were selected from PEM's Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection -internationally recognized as one of the largest and most important collections of modern Indian art outside of India. They are presented alongside conversational groupings of key works by more familiar artists including Paul C├ęzanne, Marc Chagall and Andrew Wyeth, lending context to the development of this movement in the wider world of modern painting.

These photos are of the tour we were given by Susan Bean, the curator of the show, for the press preview earlier this week.  You can see how passionate Dr. Bean is about the show.

The "conversations" created by PEM to display these works adds so much to our enjoyment of this show.  This one above is of Bikash Bhattacharjee and Andrew Wyeth.
Given that we are in the middle of a New England winter, the grouping above, which is all about heat and summer seemed like a mini-vacation to me.  It is clear how much the artist enjoys the heat, and that season.
The work of "The Cobbler" by Ganesh Pyne was particularly poignant given the story line in A Fine Balance -- perhaps you should read that book!
Another "conversation" -- this one between Cezanne and S. H. Raza shown to us by Susan Bean above -- is fascinating.
Another unique aspect of this show is the number of works that are painted on less traditional media such as the reverse side of glass and acrylic, or on paper, or even a corrugated roll-down store front.  This painting is particularly interesting because there are places where the artist left the area unpainted and then put gold paper behind it, creating a three-dimensional effect on the sleeve of the garment.
There is so much more to see, and it is all very worthwhile, so I hope you will come to PEM soon to see this for yourself.  Please note that this exhibit ends in the third week of April, which will be here before you know it.

Please remember that we offer a great PEM Package here at the Hawthorne Hotel.  For reservations you can go right here:  Peabody Essex Museum Package and just enter the dates you wish to check, and click on the drop down menu to select that package.

Or simply give us a call at 978-744-4080 or 800-729-7829.

I hope to see you here.


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