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From the private to the public

From the private to the public
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Three weeks have passed since National Museum (NM) in the capital unveiled the exhibition titled A Passionate Eye and is on till 14 August. It is the first time since it was formed, NM has organised an event where the objects on display are from a private collection.

Close to 100 select sculptures, besides textiles, paintings, manuscripts, coins and textiles which octogenarian C L Bharany had lent to the museum in 1976 serve a visual feast at a specially designed gallery in NM. Beyond the statistics lies another territory of beauty: the magnanimity of a veteran collector to donate one set of his artefacts to a public institution

Director-General Dr Venu V notes, ‘A Passionate Eye, with its 6,000 sq ft of carpeted space, has enabled the museum functioning under the Union Ministry of Culture to venture into a new territory.

The show acknowledges one of many people who have helped gather items of our cultural heritage’.

The exhibition has been curated by three experts - one of them a British Indologist-author. Equally gratified is Delhi-settled Bharany,who the cultural world rates as one of the most significant collectors of the country’s art objects - ancient, medieval and modern. He saisd, ‘To me, the collections came primarily as the result of an inherited habit’, referring to his iconic father R K Bharany, who experts acknowledge is the aesthete who introduced the ornate Pahari art of Himachal Pradesh to the world at large in the early 20th century.

Giles Tillotson, who is the chief curator of the show that began on 14 July said, ‘We want to trigger thoughts on the art of collecting; its finer points’.

His co-curator Mrinalini Venkateswaran points out that the exhibition is particularly striking for its eclecticism - a feature typical of the Bharanys themselves. The objects at the show are diverse in terms of social context as well, ranging from courtly art and elite items to rural and folk art’.

Tuning into this sensibility is how young Siddhartha Chatterjee has designed the gallery. Not only do the collections unfollow a pattern; some of the items (such as textiles) have been given an unusual display, being spread on undulated surface under tastefully toned lights.

‘Objects are grouped sometimes by material such as textile and sometimes by subject matter or themes such as asceticism - irrespective of provenance and date,’ points out a Chatterjee, who runs Seechange, a communication arts and design firm in Delhi. ‘The aim is to highlight the varied and layered links that inspire collecting’, he further noted.
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