Media only: Brenda Kean Tabor: 202.357.4880 ext. 319
Barbara Kram: 202.357.4880 ext. 219
Public only: 202.357.2700
Folk and Urban Indian Art are Side-by-Side at the Sackler

Bold contemporary canvases by Indian artists as well as giant terra-cotta figures created by village craftsmen recently went on long-term view in “Contemporary India,” an installation in the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s lofty pavilion (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.). The gallery’s display of these two forms of artistic expression together echoes the philosophy of the artist, critic and teacher J. Swaminathan (1928-1994) who contended that modern art must be presented side-by-side with folk and tribal art.

On view, thanks to a loan from Dr. Mahinder Tak and Mr. Sharad Tak, are:

  • a large black and white abstract painting by Syed Haider Raza (b. 1922). “Naad-bindu” (Sound Center) is based on the dot or “bindu,” the deep center for Buddhist and Hindu meditation; its radiating forms evoke “Naad,” resonance or sound
  • a large scarlet work by Natvar Bhavsar (b. 1934), whose application of dry pigment to a canvas prepared with a wet acrylic binder recalls the Indian practice of creating temporary powder designs on the thresholds of homes
  • a large canvas by Manjit Bawa (b. 1941) featuring figures and animals against a luminous yellow background. Bawa’s style is reminiscent of Rajput paintings (like those currently on view in “Changing Taste: Indian Paintings of the 18th to the 20th Century,” on the second floor of the Sackler)
  • two bold, easel paintings, one of the Hindu god Shiva and the other, a figural study titled “Tikka” by Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915), one of India’s most renowned modern artists
  • three heroic modern terra-cotta sculptures of a warrior, a horse and a bull, a gift of the Indian Advisory Committee for the Festival of India and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Government of India. These represent objects typically used in local Hindu festivals and rituals. Composed of several parts that are then assembled, these finely detailed wheel-thrown and hand-modeled sculptures are produced in the largest numbers in Tamil Nadu, India. Placed in the open air, tradition calls for them to be left to crumble and return to the earth.

The Freer Gallery of Art (12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W.) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.) together form the national museum of Asian art for the United States. The Freer also houses a major collection of late 19th and early 20th-century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and admission is free. Public tours are offered daily. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call 202.357.2700 or TTY 202.357.1729, or visit the galleries’ Web site at

spacer gif