We went to Brussels, to see one of the Europalia exhibitions (dedicated to India this year), Body in Indian Art presented at bozar. I generally like the exhibitions they compile, but become increasingly annoyed by the fact that they prohibit photography (and also keep increasing the prices). For me not being able to take pictures is equal to not being able to think properly, and I don’t like people/organizations who enforce it. This pictures is one of the very few I was able to take this time, the majority of others in the posting are from various websites, booklets etc.
Also, we managed to get there only in one of the the very last days of the show, and it was totally packed with people, we had to queue to see almost every exhibited artifacts; doesn’t help to have a really great experience. The queues started already from wardrobe (for which they also charged, despite very expensive tickets!)
The exhibition was, in fact, a dual one – one about ‘Body in Indian Art’, and the second, collateral one on the Indiamania, the impact everything ‘Indian’ have been making on the European culture over last two centuries or so.
The image that became the token of the exhibition and that is reproduced on all its propaganda materials is of Surasundari
which to my knowledge means literally just ‘beautiful woman’, and not the name of a certain goddess, as I would expect. This one is apparently very special depiction, because she is shown here writing (instead of making love, as what many other images of Chandela tend to illustrate).
Three-headed Shiva, with Nandi Prithvi and a gana (~7th century CE)
I understand that ‘Nandi Prithvi’ is the bull/cow he is holding his hand at; and gana means the flock of all other attendants, a company. I am finding all these things now, via Internet search, they didn’t bother to explain all the names and details at the show itself.
Bronze sculpture of Manikkavacakar, Tamil poet of 9th century BC.
I first thought it’s a statue of a pregnant woman in some sort of bondage, but allegedly it’s him, and he’s Kubera (or Kuber), the semi-divine Lord of Wealth (and also the Lord of North) in Hinduism.
Wooden sculpture of a woman giving birth (I didn’t find attribution of the age).
All the above images are not from my own experience, they are typical artificial photographs provided by the museums themselves, sterile and humanless. Even those five show the great variety of the artifacts presented at the exhibition, and the total range was much wider even. Which may mean good, but in this case created a total cacophony, of the things from different ages, places, cultures, and art traditions, all without proper explanations and context to place them in, thus understand and appreciate. The only reaction I could produce was ‘nice’ or ‘very nice’, without a chance to go any deeper.
If I go to a museum or exhibition, I’d like to see people interacting with art (and be able to capture these moments as well); the image below is not mine, I tool a still from the short movie about this exhibition (you can see in in full here):
As I said, I was not really able to take pictures with my large camera, and only have a few shots I managed to make with my iPhone.
One is of the woman who is copying one of the sculptures; I actually saw her already, a couple of years ago, when we visited the exhibition of Cranach, also in the bozar.
I could’d resist to also take a few pics of the artifacts depicting mirrors, for my blog about mirrors in art. I may write a special posting there about these art works, and now just post them here without much commenting.
It was too dark in the halls, and the iPhone wasn’t able to produce any decent work.
To all my regret, and despite the sheer beauty of many pieces at the show I consider overall trip a waste of time.