This Spring, the Peabody Essex Museum opens an exhibition revealing visual conversations between India’s contemporary and traditional artists. ReVisions: India’s Artists Engaging Traditions presents fourteen contemporary works in tandem with traditional pieces exemplifying the artists’ source of inspiration, including Mughal court painting, medieval temple sculpture and photography. Featuring objects from PEM’s renowned Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection of 20th-century Indian art and considerable holdings of traditional Indian art forms, as well as the Harvard Art Museum’s exceptional collection of art from the royal courts and temples of India, ReVisions will be on view from April 4, 2009 through April, 2010.

“We are delighted to collaborate with our sister institution, Harvard Art Museum, on ReVisions. The opportunity to draw upon Harvard’s remarkable collection as a complement to our own enables PEM to share the great depth and breadth of Indian art with our guests,” said Dan Monroe, Executive Director of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Susan Bean, Curator of South Asian and Korean Art at the Peabody Essex Museum said, “This exhibition is an enjoyable means to understanding 20th century Indian art, which at first glance may appear derivative of Western contemporary trends, but in fact draws its inspiration from many sources, particularly five thousand years of India’s rich artistic traditions.”

Looking Forward, Back, and Around the World

With thousands of years of history and centuries of colonial rule, artists working in India today draw upon local themes and techniques while maintaining connections with the global art world. From without and within, the influence of many cultures and artistic practices can be perceived in the works of artists such as M.F. Husain, Gieve Patel and Ravinder Reddy. Dynamic modern canvases and three-dimensional works mine the past for ideas about composition, color, subject and materials.

Among them, Jogen Choudhury playfully calls to a popular subject depicted in many styles from Rajput court art to vernacular Tanjore glass painting -- the image of a lady of rank gazing at a flower. Intended to lend refinement to the subject, the figure contemplates natural beauty, or perhaps yearns for an absent lover. Choudhury’s Waiting for Her Lover substitutes the traditionally lithesome figure with a robust woman of a certain age, gazing at a wilted blossom with as much romantic passion as any epic heroine.

Similarly, Ravinder Reddy’s shining Woman ’95 could be anyone dipped in gold. With her fashionable accessories, red lipstick and nail polish, she seems quite contemporary but for the celestial gleam of her flesh. The penetrating gaze and golden patina suggest that she is a divine presence, like the stone sculpture of the temple goddess, Sarasundari standing nearby. Borrowing from the grace and power of classical Hindu forms, Woman ’95 refers to contemporary woman and ancient deities in the same breath, leading the viewer to reflect on the nature of feminine power, cosmic or human.


ReVisions, Indian Artists Engaging Traditions was organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in collaboration with the Harvard Art Museum, and was co-curated by Susan Bean, Curator of South Asian and Korean Art, Peabody Essex Museum, and Kimberly Masteller, formerly Assistant Curator, Harvard Art Museum and currently Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.


Sensational India!

Weekend Festival April 4-5, 2009

The Peabody Essex Museum celebrates the art and culture of India in its many splendid forms with a weekend-long festival. Join us for this two-day event in our galleries and performance spaces where we’ll present India’s remarkable visual, culinary, and performing arts. Expect exciting dance performances, music, film, food, hands-on art activities and more.

For information and reservations please call 978-745-9500 ext. 3011 or visit our events website.

About the Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum presents art and culture from New England and around the world. The museum's collections are among the finest of their kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture (including four National Historic Landmark buildings) and outstanding Asian, Asian Export, Native American, African, Oceanic, Maritime and Photography collections. In addition to its vast collections, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and a hands-on education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 24 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.

HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Adults $15; seniors $13; students $11. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.

INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit our Web site at


PR Contacts:

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Director of Communications  -  978-542-1828  -

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