NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

February 1, 2013

Indian and modern

New exhibit showcases India's art movement in the 20th century

For visitors accustomed to seeing ancient, but not modern Indian art in museums, the new exhibit at Peabody Essex Museum should be a revelation.

Featuring 70 works by 23 painters, “Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India After Independence,” represents three generations of painters who have emerged in India since 1947.

The show may also be an eye-opener for members of the art establishment, who often think of modern art as happening only in Paris, London or New York, said Susan Bean, guest curator of the exhibit.

“We are now in the middle of a very energetic, global conversation in the art world and beyond about the 20th century in art,” said Bean, who was previously curator of South Asian and Korean art at Peabody Essex. “People are looking around the world, and they are seeing that modernity was happening everywhere in the 20th century, all around the world, and that India had a very energetic art movement.”

Modern Indian art had its origins in the first half of the 20th century, Bean said, before emerging in its second half in a “golden age” that is covered by the show.

This age began with the country’s independence from Great Britain, which became official on Aug. 15, 1947, just after 12 a.m., the “midnight” in the exhibit’s title.

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” said India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in a recording that plays on a videotape at the gallery entrance. “A moment comes, but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, and when the soul of a nation long suppressed finds utterance.”

The boom referred to in the title would follow decades after Nehru’s speech, when economic liberalization brought prosperity to the country’s middle and upper classes.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Special Features
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Special Features