The paintings in this exhibition relate stories of Power & Desire in a highly nuanced visual language.

SETTING

A palace signals a realm of rulership, relationships of power.

A garden, bower, or grove signals a realm of love and longing, a private place away from the gaze of others.

A wilderness suggests a place beyond social conventions.

There are no generalized rules about reading a picture from left to right, or top to bottom.

Space is not viewed as continuous, nor is a fixed vantage assumed. What is important is shown without regard to perspective.

PROXIMITY OR DISTANCE OF FIGURES

Social and emotional relationships are described by how near or far figures are from one another, whether there are obstacles between them, whether they touch or not.

EXPRESSIONS OF TIME

Time is fluid; past, present and future can co-exist in reality. Figures appearing twice in a picture to indicate separate events, but not necessarily linear time.

Weather, time of day, flowers opened or closed convey mood. Mood (rasa) is all-important to the content of a picture—to feelings generated in the viewer.

WHO’S WHO?

SIZE is used to signal relative importance as well as age.

PLACEMENT

with regard to the central space and/or the most important people in the picture signals relative importance.

GAZE AND GESTURE

Locked gases between lovers create a world apart.

Powerful figures enjoy the gaze of all. At first, figures may seem conventionally drawn, but close attention to facial expression is rewarded by subtle emotional messages.

SYMBOLIC LANGUAGE

Symbols from Hindu mythology and court etiquette are used. One example that appears frequently is people with blue complexions.

WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE BLUE COMPLEXIONS AND WHO ARE THEY?

The god Vishnu and the forms he takes as Rama and Krishna (avatars of Vishnu) have blue complexions. This color is regarded as extremely beautiful—the color of condensed sky. Vishnu commonly has four arms; Rama and Krishna have two

EXPECT TO FIND EXCEPTIONS TO ANYTHING CLAIMING TO BE A RULE IN SOUTH ASIAN PAINTING.

A friend tells Krishna of Radha's pitiful condition
(from the Gita Govinda, Part VI)
Panjab Hills, Kangra
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, ca. 1810-1820 11 3/32
in. x 14 3/16 in. (28.2 cm x 36 cm)

Edwin Binney 3rd Collection