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at Mati Ghar, IGNCA

Sacred Textiles

Certain fabrics, whether dyed, woven, printed or embellished acquire lasting cultural, religious or ceremonial value to individuals and communities and sometimes become the very fabric of their lives to be celebrated and venerated on ritual occasions. The epic imagery of Hindu Gods and symbols celebrated from India to Indonesia, the sacred textile banners of Japan, Aztec ritual capes, the burial cloths at Cahuachi in Peru, the sacred textiles in ancient Nubian temples and the intertwining of Spirit and action in Maori weaving indicate the universal value attached to textiles.

The precious textiles exhibited here are from the personal collections of Joanne Eicher,Victoria Rivers, Edric Ong, Michele Archambault, Monisha Ahmed and Jasleen Dhamija. They come from Kalabari of Nigeria, South East Asia, Malaysian Borneo, Thailand and Ladakh and various parts of India.


Curated by Jasleen Dhamija
Co Curated by Prof. Vandana Bhandari



 The Labyrinth and Sacred Geometry



Richard Dunn will be making a large labyrinth on the ground using coloured pigments as a kind of Rangoli painting in the circular hall at IGNCA, Mati Ghar. Richard Dunn has extensively explored the labyrinth through paintings and installations using disruptive colour and at times exhibited with silhouette images of plants. In many cultures the labyrinth has a special and sacred meaning: it is a path that reflects that which we take in life, a metaphor for the complexity of place - our directed and metaphoric pathways, but it also is an image for reflection and meditation within dense urban living. This ground piece relates to two forms of cultural heritage - Celtic labyrinths of Scotland, and through its colour and location, Indian labyrinths, echoing in the context of the Festival of Sacred Arts Delhi the Buddhist Mandala. Through its pattern, and its complex colour relations, is the potential to connect cultures through a device that promotes similar mental processes and cultural memories.

Richard Dunn is an artist born in Sydney. He studied architecture at UNSW, and painting at the Royal College of Art, London and lived in Europe from 1966-1976, and New York 1984-1985 as a fellow of the International Studio Program P.S.1 MOMA, New York. He was guest professor at National Academy of Fine Art, Oslo, 2000 and Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, winter semester 2003/4. Richard Dunn is Professor of Contemporary Visual Art and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Sydney. 

Solo museum exhibitions include Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany, in 2004 and 2005 and retrospective surveys at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney in1992 and Monash University Museum of Art in 1994. Most recent solo international exhibitions  have been at the Künstlerverein Malkasten, Düsseldorf and the Förderverein Kunst der DRK Kliniken, Berlin | Westend and group exhibitions at Museo D'Arte Moderna E Contemporanea Palazzo Belmonte Riso, Palermo; Tianjin Art

Artist: Richard Dunn



Painted Myths: Contemporary Folk Art from Bengal by  Roma Chatterji

The Chitrakars or patuas from Medinipur district of West Bengal are a community of traditional painters and singers who compose stories based on sacred epics as well as secular events. While painting is an activity undertaken by several traditional artisan groups in Bengal, the Chitrakars are the only ones who performed by singing and displaying their scrolls.

Their origin myth describes them as an interstitial group cursed by Lord Siva to be Muslims who would continue to paint pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. This status, according to some Chitrakars, makes them neither completely acceptable to Muslims nor to Hindus. It also gives them a truly secular voice so vital in the world that we live in today. Modern-day Chitrakars have propagated the message of communal harmony in their compositions on the recent riots and on the Gulf War. Their commentaries couched in the language of myth are profoundly symbolic and draw on a rich oral tradition of storytelling that was once widely prevalent among the heterodox artisan castes of Bengal. However the engagement with contemporary issues also inflects their aesthetics and many Chitrakars experiment with novel painterly values.

At one time such communities were spread over a large part of eastern India – each with their special style of painting. At present, though, it is only in restricted areas of Medinipur, Birbhum, Purulia and Dumka that this activity
Nandigram by Banku Chitrakar      remains. Medinipur scroll painters unlike their counterparts elsewhere are also extremely responsive to political events. Over the years they have composed on themes that range from events of local or national siginificance such as boat accidents and communal violence to global events such as the Tsunami and the strike on the World Trade Centre and have also deified local heroes.

In this exhibition we intend to foreground the contemporeity of this folk tradition not merely to foreground new themes but also to focus on the changes in aesthetic value. Thus apart from displaying a mix of traditional and modern themes we have also tried to bring out changes in aesthetic perception by exhibiting the work of painters from different generations, senior artists as well as young children. Folk art tends to be represented as static. By juxtaposing themes from myth and secular life as well as paintings by artists from different generations we hope to present the dynamic face of this rich tradition.

Roma Chatterji teaches at the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University. She has an abiding interest in folklore. She has written extensively on the oral cultures and performative traditions of Purulia in Bengal. This is the third exhibition of her collection of pata paintings and it emerges from her current research on folk art. The first exhibition of her collection titled Global Events and Local Narratives: The Contemporary Scroll Painters of Bengal was held at the Museum of Tribal and Folk Art in October 2008 and sponsored by the artist Arpana Caur.








Inner Reflections: “A Creative Journey through Art by child monks of Tsechokling Monastery.”

This project involved nine child monks aged from 12 to 20 of the Tsechokling Monastery in Mc Leod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh. India. They were voluntary participants of Interactive Art workshops conducted over a 2-month period (September- October 2009), on-site at the Monastery.

The Half Moon project consisted of workshops to introduce the child monks to various Art forms and to make them comfortable using art to discover their own creative abilities. The workshops covered various disciplines of art, from creative writing (prose and poetry), painting, drawing, photography and clay modeling. The monks explored an array of themes like their experiences of Tibetan monastic life, views on Buddhism, spirituality, identity of self, family, belonging, their hopes, aspirations and dreams of the future of Tibet and their role in it.

The life of the novice monks in the monastic education system is one of rigorous training and the contemplation and subsequent understanding of teachings. The holistic approach of these workshops was aimed at enriching their life experiences, enhancing their abilities, and creating new understanding and awareness for their personal growth as well as that of the community.

The workshops stimulated their young perceptive minds and appealed to their aesthetic sensibilities igniting their imaginations to weave ideas and discover the creative talent within them. The initial reluctance, or perhaps shyness, once overcome, revealed that the monks were fascinated by the world of art, which prompted them to positively portray their inner emotions in the various mediums. They showed no inhibitions and enthusiastically went about expressing themselves in their art works from painting to sculpture. With respect to photography, they were fascinated by the idea of looking through the lens and capturing the moment for posterity. The paintings, sculpture and photographic works where they were required to collaborate together and work as a team offered both a pedagogical moment and unique insights and the resultant artwork whether painting, sculpture or photo-story brought out different ideas and interpretations of the themes. The process of defining their works in their own words was similar to making a mandala with different colors yet aiming towards a common visual language. It was a new way to build community, and they were enthusiastic.

As a witness to the joy and enthusiasm of the monks during the activities of this program it is our hope and belief that the Half Moon project can enrich other monasteries and communities through the lasting effects and benefits of using art as a creative expression for personal development, and confidence. Art is an immensely positive contribution to monastic life in all its expressions and aspects.

At the same time, The Half Moon project provides an intimate, unique and insightful perspective of the lives of the child monks within the monastic setting, their dreams and aspirations for those of us who are outside their mysterious world. Thus, it fosters greater awareness within the Tibetan Community and the international community in order to provide a better understanding of what it means to be a child and a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

We would sincerely like to thank the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of his Holiness the Dalai Lama for their valuable support in making this project possible during commemorating Tibet’s 50 years in exile.

Meet the Children
Mingmar Dorjee, Tenzin Norbu, Tsering Dorjee, Nima Sangay, Sangay Tendun, Ngawang Tsering, Nyima Mangar, Thupten Tsering, Tenzin Sangpo


Curated by Robinson, Priyanka Singh & Tenzin Wangden