February 3, 2015

B.N. Goswamy - The World of The Indian Painter

An excerpt from, "The Spirit of Indian Painting by BN Goswamy review – an out-and-out masterpiece" by William Dalrymple, The Guardian, January 24, 2015:
BN Goswamy, the highly respected historian of Indian painting, has been trying for nearly five decades to look down the other end of the art historical telescope. Like an Indian avatar of Bernard Berenson, who dug in the Tuscan Ducal archives to unearth the bills of exchange between the artists and patrons that would enable him toprovide attributions to a host of anonymous canvases, Goswamy has succeeded in reconstructing whole dynasties of previously obscure artists, given them names, and restored their identities and honour.
An excerpt from, "The Art of Seeing: BN Goswamy illuminates a lost world of Indian painting" by Trisha Gupta, Caravan Magazine, January 1, 2015:
Goswamy, now eighty-one years old and a professor emeritus of art history at Panjab University, has over a dozen books on premodern Indian painting to his credit. These range from works of synthesis, such as his book on Indian manuscripts, to works of close observation, such as his study of the Mughal patka, which draws on the textile collection of Ahmedabad’s Calico Museum. In 2010, he published his first book for younger readers, Ranga Roopa, pulling poetry and familiar religious iconography together into an affordable introduction to art. But it is Goswamy’s most recent book, The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters with 101 Great Works, 1100-1900, that is likely to perform the long-overdue task of introducing him to a non-specialist Indian readership.

Like Goswamy, this book wears its scholarship lightly. Its commissioning editor at Penguin, Nandini Mehta, had heard him lecture, and her brief to him was to “write the way you speak.” “It was a compliment, but also a challenge,” Goswamy told me last November, his eyes twinkling behind his wire-rimmed glasses. I had come to meet him at his home: a neat red-brick bungalow in Chandigarh’s Sector 19A. I was ushered first into a living room spread with chatai mats, but Goswamy seemed worried that we would be disturbed there. He led me out through a patch of back garden into a small, all-white, soundproof home theatre. I must have looked surprised, because Goswamy quickly said his son had built it.

Over coffee and gujiyas, he told me he didn’t want the book to be a dull, straightforward history. He decided to devote the bulk of it to 101 paintings, arranged not in chronological order but under four thematic rubrics: Visions, Observation, Passion and Contemplation. Some works may speak to particular readers more than others, but each is brought to life by Goswamy’s individual annotations. A 122-page introductory essay touches upon several pertinent topics—rasa theory, time and space in Indian painting, why the distinction between Rajput and Mughal painting is not as stark as was once supposed—but clearly the most important thing is to convey the pleasure of looking. His aim, Goswamy told me, is to become “an instrument, so that people can learn to see.”
Video Title: B. N . Goswamy- The World of The Indian Painter- Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. Source: LalitKalaAkademi Chandigarh. Date Published: May 24, 2013. Description: 
Professor B. N. Goswamy delivered a slide lecture From Passion to Serenity - "The World of the Indian Painter" for Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi (State Academy of Art).
The lecture begins at 3:00.