I went to see the Bharany collection on display at the National Museum. The show is called the Passionate Eye, and it represents a small selection from the vast collections of R. K. Bharany, whose son donated this collection to the museum.
Even the loveliest of gems needs a sensitive setting, and I was delighted at the aesthetics of the exhibition. The dark matte background, and the subtle lighting ensured that the objects drew the eye, and you were led through a progression of themed items.
The Bharany collection is actually very varied; so making sense of it and ensuring that the layout has a natural physical progression without confusing and repeating themes is important. It's like story-telling. Every museum exhibition is a piece of story-telling.
I was looking around, wondering who the story-tellers were; the magic guys who had highlighted and brought this set of art objects alive. I was lucky to bump into Siddhartha Chatterjee, who designed the exhibition display and the graphics. He was kind enough to explain some parts of the process. I realised, very quickly, the enormous work and thought that has gone into A Passionate Eye. I could only understand a tiny part of the thought process in our ten minutes together, but it was a valuable insight. I would have liked to spend more time, just talking about the project, but you know how it is - the day has just so many hours, and I had multiple meetings lined up.
In the photo above you can see one of the many highlights of the exhibition; a Rajasthani pichwai, with a Vishnu bronze from Kerala in the foreground. Siddhartha explained to me that in designing this section, they decided to go with a primarily Vaishnavite theme; but also that hidden in one corner were two interesting exceptions :) If you visit the exhibition, see if you can spot them!
A Passionate Eye is on view at the National Museum until 14 August, from 10am -5pm, all days of the week except Mondays.