Forms of Devotion

Forms of Devotion, The Spiritual in Indian Art is a major visual arts project of the Museum of Sacred Art which includes an exhibit, a two-volume book, associated events and a film.

The project includes all the faiths present in India – Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, through a very rich variety of contemporary, traditional and tribal art.

It contributes to better undestanding between different communities and builds bridges and promotes interfaith dialogue and social cohesion.

Forms of Devotion is a major exhibit consisting of over 200 artists and almost 500 works. It includes paintings, miniatures, installations, sculptures, videos, digital art, etc. With the exception of classical-art it includes modern, contemporary, traditional and tribal art forms. All Faiths present in India are included in the show: several Hindu traditions as well as Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Muslim, and Jain Traditions.

The exhibit strives to promote social cohesion and interfaith dialogue through the visual arts, which is a non-threatening medium to get people to know other faiths. It also promotes positive interaction between modernity and tradition; rural and urban, elite and popular, high and low art forms. It supports the sustainability of traditional art forms. It unites and connects different art forms around the theme of devotion and spirituality.

It is also a unique exhibition because it can adjust in size or meet the needs of the location. It can be co-curated with curators of the institutions. It is inexpensive to host and transport, as it is centrally located in a warehouse near Brussels Airport.

The exhibit is presented in a thematic way. No divisions are created between contemporary, traditional or tribal nor by faiths. Some of the themes presented in this exhibition are cosmic constant, elemental ecstasy, absence & presence, leela, pigrims progress, sacred and secular, worlds within, imaging the divine, telling tales.

The show has been presented at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; Bangkok, China Art Museum, Shanghai; Las Francesas, Valladolid; Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid; Casa de la India, Valladolid. It was very popular by the public in all the locations. In China over 600,000 visitors visited the exhibition.

Music • Dance • Drama

A festival of spiritual arts conceived jointly by Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork Arts, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the Lalit Kala Akademi and Arts4All, with inputs from the curators included music and dance performances inspired by specific works and staged in the gallery as well as in theatres, alongside art film screenings, workshops, lectures, guided gallery tours, interactive talks, meditation and yoga sessions. It offered tailored programmes for special interest groups and sponsors as well as media. There were also panel discussions, interactive sessions for students, workshops for children, and live demonstrations of artistic techniques.

Studios of Devotion is a four-part documentary series directed by Gautam Ghose with Jagannath Guha as associate director and artist-curator Desmond Lazaro as scriptwriter and narrator. Visiting artists and their studios in different parts of India, the film captures the spirit of devotion and spirituality as practiced in contemporary India.

Forms of Devotion documents a substantive collection of Indian art in the spiritual genre and held in the Museum of Sacred Art. The publication explores an inclusive spectrum of contemporary Indian creativity – classical inspired, tribal, folk and popular arts, reflective of the rootedness and innovation within traditions, as well as new media work in varied manifestations and genres. It features several especially commissioned works and seminal essays by Indian and international experts framed within the context of the history, philosophy, and ideology of the culture the art stems from. The two-volume book reflects the diversity and depth of Indian art from varied perspectives and aesthetics. It examines the connection between art and various spiritual ideologies and living traditions as they continue to be practiced and celebrated or questioned by hundreds of artists, from around and beyond the country, in a multi faith context.

The artists biographical sketches and their photographs, the bibliography, and other reference material make it a collectors’ delight and a useful stand-alone resource book, first of its kind, on spiritual and devotional Indian art with its multilayered philosophical, mystical, and cultural resonance. The book brings forth fresh insights on a subject of universal interest. The two volumes with illustrations in full colour and edited by Sushma K. Bahl has been published as a boxed set by Niyogi Books. It includes essays by distinguished Indian and international experts — George Michell, Dr Madhu Khanna, Jaya Jaitly, Kenneth R Valpey, Devdutt Pattanaik, Annapurna Garimella, Desmond Lazaro, Martin Gurvich, Steven Rosen, Prof Mushirul Hasan and Sushma Bahl with forewords by Dr Karan Singh, and Prof Lokesh Chandra.