Monday, January 30, 2012

Maharaja and Sanjay Patel

Jane did such a great job at the museum we decided to take her to another one a few days later. We are members to the De Young/Legion of Honor museums and the museums of San Francisco did an exchange one Saturday where your membership gained you free entry to other local museums. We decided to go to the Asian Art Museum and we only had to pay $5 each for entry into the special exhibit, Maharaja, which was well worth it.

I was under the mistaken assumption that there was only 1 maharaja for all of India but instead there are 600 different "great kings". It was incredible to see the amount of wealth that these kings had with elaborate jewels of sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, and how they would decorate their elephants in ceremonial dress. For me, it was fascinating to see how their dress and customs changed with the invasion of the British. Slowly, these maharaja's shifted from wearing tradition dress to more Western style, even substituting the elephant for a silver carriage! One necklace that was designed by Cartier contained nearly 3,000 diamonds including a 234 carat yellow diamond. Unfortunately, the necklace was sold off into bits and pieces over the years so we were only able to see a replica with quartz but it was still a show stopper. And Jane was even better this time, sleeping through most of this exhibit- as long as the stroller kept moving :-)

We ended up getting an unexpected delight when we saw another one of their special exhibits about a modern day artist named Sanjay Patel. Patel currently works as an animator for Pixar and has decided to illustrate the Hindu gods and retell some of their legends. His work is so great that they asked him to do a large scale mural for the Maharaja exhibit. This is only one piece of that work
They also had a special exhibit directed solely to his art and I love his explanation of why he does his artwork: "People see my work and think it's unique. This is total bull. My work is a total knock off and the fact that people don't see it shocks me. That's the whole point of my show: To show people the connection between the most ancient artifacts and my modern interpretation"- Sanjay Patel. I also love that he feels that his work is "continuing a tradition of art making and worship that stretches back thousands of years".

After watching a video where he explains about himself and how he does is artwork (he sketches first and then uses the computer), I learned that he trained at an art school started by Walt Disney and I realized that he has incorporated that style and that is why I love his work so much. Here are several images from his exhibit
I love that this one shows his artistic process of sketching
William also enjoyed his artwork so much that we bought both of his books- "The Little Book of Hindu Deities" and "Ramayana: Divine Loophole"- and I can't wait to start reading them. This was such a pleasant surprise to have stumbled upon this great artist. And even Jane seemed to be showing some "reverence" for this great art.
An interesting side note- no one came up to us to look at Jane while we were at the museum, which was the opposite experience of the CJM. Not sure why- maybe because it was that Jane behaved even better :-)

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