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Homage to an Art Historian

Nuzhat Kazmi

Edited by Mahesh Sharma and Padma Kaimal
Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 2013, pp. 492, Rs. 3950.00


This is a splendid volume that brings to- gether the recent approaches and researches around the theme of Indian Painting in honour of Professor B.N. Goswamy who continues to inspire and motivate potential scholars of art and history in various capacities and contexts. A scholar whose command on language is par excellence and who has never failed to engage us, the we in his audience and readership, with his passion for the poetics and the poetry, which he renders in a meticulous manner, as he talks of the rasas, the sadangas and the ananda of Indian art. Scholars, both young and not so young, have come together to express their debt, of whatever nature, but largely to his innate genius in recognizing talent for research and his skills in nurturing it.   Indian Painting has lavish colour plates that complement the text. Themes that have been taken by the authors are exhaustive and engaging. Walter M. Spink, considered by many as the last word on the Ajanta murals, explores on rather fragile deductions than actual records or evidences either of text or record, a range of arguments that he puts under the heading, ‘From Good to Bad: Redecoration of Ajanta Cave 10’.   Devangana Desai weaves a fantastic scholastic fabric that brings to relief ‘The Lord on the Leaf’. She brings together varied material and collections to highlight the intriguing details around the image of the infant Krishna lying on a leaf and analyses the presence and absences of details with the skill of a master.   Saryu Doshi tells ‘The Story of Salibhadra: A Jain Dharma-Katha’. Another essay by J.P. Losty presents religious material and related social motifs when he takes up a simple representation of ‘The Carpet at the Window: A European Motif in the Mughal Jharokha Portrait’, to convincingly trace its inspirational source and its functional formulation under the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Gulam Mohammed Sheikh has us captivated by his intense essay, ‘Visualising the Ramayana: Reading Pictures’; the reading of such subtlety could perhaps come only from a scholar who is also an artist and a poet. Ratan Parimoo also touches the rich Indian literature that Ramayana represents, in his essay ‘Unknown Drawings of Ramayana Uttarakanda in Pahari Style: The Pictorial Version as a New Text’, extending the narrative text as it unfolds intrinsically within the visual representational framework.   ‘A Taste for Green Space: Landscape of the Ancestral Lands ...

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