India’s rich past is certainly alluring. Curator Dr. Seema Bhalla’s aptly titled exhibition of paintings, seeks to explore some of that gorgeous allure. I visited the launch of her exhibition of paintings and miniatures last evening, at the Bikaner House (have you read about its iconic Sunday Market yet?), and was fascinated with everything I saw.
Dr. Seema Bhalla.
DR. SEEMA BHALLA:
Enthralled by the art belonging to the “Company Period” of India, Art Historian and Critic, Dr. Seema Bhalla, travelled extensively to compile its best exponents. The rare works she found were badly preserved, so she commissioned their re-creation for a larger, more discerning audience.
THE ALLURE OF INDIA EXHIBITION:
This exhibit of paintings and models, re-creates the works of artists commissioned by the three European companies that traded with and lived in India. 300 years of a shared trading tradition ties the Dutch, French and the British East India Companies, together. The late 18th and 19th centuries, saw many Company patrons commission Indian artists to paint vibrant Indian scenes in their unique style.
With the onset of photography and western Colonial art, this form was nearly wiped out. By commissioning new art works in this genre, Dr. Bhalla has helped to preserve them.
From L-R: William Dalrymple, Sir Dominic Asquith, H.E. Martin van den Berg
THE LAUNCH EVENT:
The launch event at the Bikaner House was well-attended by the who’s who of Delhi. Eminent members of Delhi’s art and social circles hobnobbed over cocktails.
The inauguration was done jointly by the British High Commissioner, Sir Dominic Asquith; the Ambassador of Netherlands, H. E. Martin van den Berg; the Deputy Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs, the Embassy of France, Aruna Adiceam; and eminent writer and historian, William Dalrymple. Each of these distinguished personalities lauded the collection while giving an insight into their countries’ and their personal relations with India.
The attendees were served delicious appetizers from L’Opera Patisserie Boulangerie, and had their pick of cocktails and other alcoholic beverages at the well-stocked bar.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT THE EXHIBIT:
The Company paintings are interesting because of the wonderfully detailed art work, as well as their historical narratives. Each painting is encased in a beautiful frame, clearly inspired by the aesthetic of that period. Magnifying glasses, provided at the venue, allow the viewer to examine each work in-depth.
The social connotations subtly enmeshed in the works, are especially interesting. Unaware that my religion had its own divergent school of art, I was particularly fascinated by the ‘Sikh Company School’ that showed paintings of Sikh men at work, selling shawls or medicines.
The works are for sale and collectors will certainly benefit from adding these to their collections. I highly recommend the exhibit to people with an interest in Indian history. I also recommend it to those looking for something interesting to do in Delhi this week. This short and well-curated exhibition is worth visiting.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXHIBIT:
VENUE: The Bikaner House, Pandara Road, India Gate, New Delhi
DATES: November 21- 25, 2018
CONTACT DR. SEEMA BHALLA TO BUY THE ART WORK HERE: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a small vlog I’ve made of the event. Follow me on Instagram at nooranandchawla for more real-time content.
*All photographs are clicked on my phone. Copyright belongs to nooranandchawla.
**This is not a sponsored post. I was invited for the event and was thoroughly impressed with the work.