"Revisions: Indian Artists Engaging Tradition" at the Peabody Essex, Meg Brown Payson at Walker Contemporary
By EVAN J. GARZA | March 24, 2009
Fresh on the heels of its success with Chinese contemporary art and the debut of its first contemporary curator, Trevor Smith, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem has another show of historically relevant new art up its sleeve, this time focusing on Asia's other giant: India. Opening April 4, "REVISIONS: INDIAN ARTISTS ENGAGING TRADITION" offers paintings and sculptures by 14 contemporary Indian artists whose works are paired with historical pieces that reflect the sources of inspiration. Organized by PEM's curator of South Asian and Korean art, Susan Bean, and former Harvard Art Museum curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art Kimberly Masteller, "ReVisions" combines PEM's Herwitz Collection of 20th-century Indian art with Harvard's collection of works from Indian royal courts and temples.
Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy, Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
It is, however, only one piece of the Indian puzzle at PEM. April 4 and 5, the museum will host "SENSATIONAL INDIA!," a two-day festival celebrating all things Indian. There'll be a gallery talk for "ReVisions," musical performances (by Durga Krishnan, Shuchita Rao, and the Bangalore Ensemble, and more), films, lectures, an Indian cooking demonstration, a screening of The Jungle Book (followed by a finger-puppet craft fest), and performances by the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and Boston Bhangra.
Opening next week at Walker Contemporary is "HORIZON: MEG BROWN PAYSON," a show of the Maine painter's organic works. Payson works in a non-representational language that uses abstracted forms of naturally occurring shapes, where pools and rivulets of brightly colored acrylic paint collect in a large, layered, and almost chaotic nest. (Imagine peering into a microscope to find brilliantly colored amœbae.) If that doesn't make sense, try this: on her Web site, in one of the longest single-sentence artist statements ever, Payson explains, "It is my practice to spend time in wild places, both imaginal and real, paying attention to my habits of organizing experience — how my body tries to scale the unfamiliar to the familiar measure of itself, my vision to squeeze the unknown into templates of the known and my mind to make orderly maps of each new world along the familiar axes of the old and ignore the bits that don't fit." You can explore Payson's imaginal axes at Walker Contemporary beginning April 3.
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