LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
s collection of Indian art traveled for the first ever exhibition of ancient Indian art in Mexico. The special exhibition, Ancient Art of India: Masterworks of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is being presented at the Museo Nacional de las Culturas in Mexico City. The show features 115 objects from LACMAs permanent collectionone of the most comprehensive groupings of South Asian art in the Western hemisphereand explores the elaborate cosmologies of ancient Indias three main indigenous religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
Ancient Indias religious mythology and associated artistic imagery were among the most highly developed of all world cultures. Each of these religions constructed systems of the universe with multiple realms, which were populated by a diverse range of real and imaginary inhabitants. Divinities, demigods, demons, mortals, and animals all interacted in a grand theater of life, the afterlife, and the endless cycle of time and rebirth. Numerous traumatic conflicts and heroic exploits were imagined in prose and poem and portrayed in a sophisticated tradition of sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts.
Drawn entirely from LACMAs renowned holdings, the exhibition is thematically organized in five conceptual sections exploring the myriad inhabitants of Indias perceived universe:
Deities: Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain gods and goddesses
Demigods: protective nature and fertility spirits associated with the earth and various celestial nymphs, musicians, and supernatural beings
Demons: revered leaders and guardian figures with demonic powers and generic hordes of demonic warriors
Humans: archetypical rulers who uphold virtue and preserve order by triumphing over evil, religious ascetics who conquer the temptations of the spirit and gain magical powers, and individuals typifying the plethora of lifes activities and occupations
Animals: the full spectrum of the animal kingdom, from powerful elephants to noble lions and cunning tigers to mischievous monkeys
Ancient Art of India: Masterworks of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is curated by Stephen Markel, Harry and Yvonne Lenart Curator and Department Head and Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, LACMA. Markel also wrote and edited the 151-page exhibition catalogue, which further explores and illustrates the museums extensive collection of Indian art.