This fall, the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) presents two exhibitions of works of art from India. Many Arrows from Rama’s Bow: Paintings of the Ramayana includes 44 works of art from the 16th through the 20th centuries that illustrate one of India’s most timeless and enduring epics.
On view at the same time, Women’s Paintings from the Land of Sita explores the work of women who transformed a history of domestic painting into brilliant works on paper created for a growing art market. Both exhibitions will be on view from Sept. 1 until Dec. 2 at SAAM, in Seattle’s Volunteer Park.
MANY ARROWS FROM RAMA’S BOW: PAINTINGS OF THE RAMAYANA
One of the world’s most captivating stories, the Ramayana, has inspired artists in India and beyond for more than fifteen hundred years. SAAM’s exhibit will follow the Ramayana story and the moral and super-human struggles of kings, warriors, wives, and brothers who travel through the worlds of humans, animals, gods, and demons.
Although it was a sacred Hindu text in ancient India, lessons from the exhibit and story remain universal - honor, righteousness, love, and the consequences of good and evil actions.
In a special collaboration with The San Diego Museum of Art, SAAM presents 44 pieces, with scenes and heroes of the Ramayana, nearly all in paint. Visitors will follow the dramatic story, become familiar with its protagonists, and learn the underlying philosophical and devotional meanings of the Ramayana as its story unfolds through the brilliantly-hued works, which are displayed in the order of the narrative.
Many of the paintings have never before been seen by the public, and all are of stunning quality, rich with brilliant colors and gold.
WOMEN’S PAINTINGS FROM THE LAND OF SITA
SAAM’s second exhibit features women’s paintings from the Mithila cultural region in Bihar state. All of the works that will be on view are from the local collection of Gursharan and Elvira Sidhu. In the late 1960s, an artistic transformation took place among a small group of women in villages within the Mithila region when quality handmade paper became available to them.
These women adapted their community’s ritual wall painting tradition to paper, making their work available to the outside world. Several noteworthy and innovative artists were soon invited to India’s cities, Europe and the U.S.; in turn, income from sales of their paintings transformed their families and villages. Nine of these exceptional women artists – plus one man – are represented in this exhibition.
The exhibition includes ten ink drawings by Lalita Devi, who began painting scenes from her life at a very young age. Many of them depict clusters of her family observing special occasions within the courtyard and structures of their household, giving an intimate glimpse of activities from everyday household chores to elaborate weddings.
The exhibition also includes eleven paintings from Baua Devi’s series based on the legend of a young woman and her adopted family of snake spirits. Devi’s success as an artist took her family from poverty and hunger to relative prosperity, and her designation as a National Master Craftsman brought her honor, fame and numerous commissions, including the series of paintings on view in this exhibition. Her bold paintings are dominated by brilliant hues of yellow and pink, with images of snakes curving and bending into almost any shape.
For more information, visit www.seattleasianartmuseum.com.