National Gallery of Australia to open Australia’s
first gallery of the Art of the Indian subcontinent
'Lotus ceiling' eastern Rajasthan or northeastern Madhya Pradesh / India 11th-12th century stone, collection of the National Gallery of Australia
On 31 August 2006 the National Gallery of Australia will open a new gallery of the Art of the Indian subcontinent, the first in an Australian public gallery devoted to such a separate display.
Many of the sculptures and textiles on show have been acquired in the last eighteen months and have not been seen before. The National Gallery of Australia holds the largest Indian collection in our region, outside of India itself.
One of the most spectacular new acquisitions is a series of massive carved wooden brackets which act as a major architectural feature, drawing visitors into the newly refurbished spaces and creating a series of niches within which to display miniature paintings, illuminated manuscript folios and small textiles.
Recent acquisitions will join old favourites, in a new central location off the main entrance foyer. In juxtaposing sculptures of different media — stone, wood, bronze with paintings and textiles — visitors will be introduced to the art of South Asia through fine examples of key images from the major strands of Indian culture and religion. For example, the huge 12th-century Pala dynasty stone stele depicting a majestic Vishnu flanked by two diminutive images of his consorts, Lakshmi and Sarasvati, will be shown beside the newly acquired panel showing Vishnu and Lakshmi in a dynamic embrace of more earthly proportions.
The new refurbishment includes a lighting system, designed by internationally renowned expert, George Sexton, who recently completed the lighting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and many other overseas galleries. Works of art will be displayed on new specially designed pedestals and wall finishes in a way that blends and complements the original architecture of the building with a 21st-century international display.
“I am very excited by the opening of this Indian Gallery,” said Director Ron Radford. “It will provide opportunities for broadening access to the vibrant and inspiring world of the art of the Indian subcontinent, with works from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal and to generate public interest in the Gallery’s collection in a way we have not be able to before.”
The Gallery’s opening will be celebrated with an Indian Dance performance on Saturday 2 September and an exciting competition giving visitors the chance to win a trip to India.