Saturday, December 16, 2017

Amaravati Buddhist art to finally be seen in full glory at British Museum

By Mark Brown
A two-sided limestone relief from the Great Shrine at Amaravati. Photograph: British Museum
LONDON---For decades, the Amaravati sculptures, a stupendous collection of early Buddhist art considered one of the greatest treasures in the British Museum, have been poorly lit and difficult for visitors to see close up. On Thursday, they will be displayed in their full glory when the central London museum reopens its largest gallery to the public after a two-year renovation. The newly improved Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia will allow a different story to be told, curators say, with some objects going on show for the first time. The refurbishment and redisplay means the Amaravati sculptures, which are held in a separate room at one end of the gallery, can be seen from the other. “They are just as important as the [Parthenon] marbles but people don’t know about them so much,” Portal said. [More]

Friday, December 15, 2017

Review 'Painted in Mexico': LACMA's remarkable and important new show

By Christopher Knight, Art Critic
Nicolás Enríquez (attrib.), "Virgin of Sorrows," circa 1750 LACMA
LOS ANGELES---To get an idea of just how bold and ambitious painters were in 18th century Mexico, an era of unprecedented splendor in the colony of New Spain, look no further than the very first painting at the entrance to a smashing new exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Juan Rodríguez Juárez and his brother, Nicolás, were leading artists in Mexico City early in the century. It was one of four commissions for the chapel altar of an important Jesuit residence. The LACMA exhibition, “Painted in Mexico, 1700-1790: Pinxit Mexici,” is filled with eye-popping pictorial moments like this. [More]

Big-nosed Jesus and God as a second-rate Santa: the worst Christian art

By Stuart Jeffries
One eye on his CV … a detail from The Apparition of the Apostle Peter to Saint Peter Nolasco, which features in Navid Kermani’s book. Photograph: akg-images / Erich Lessing
There is a particularly ugly nutwood carving of the infant Jesus dating from 1320. The nose is wider than it is long and the lower lip is pulled up, emphasizing a ball-shaped chin and unpleasantly globular cheeks. Only a mother could believe this cherub beautiful, says Navid Kermani, who also takes issue with the three discolored fingers Jesus is holding up, supposedly in blessing. Kermani, a German Muslim writer of Iranian Shia ancestry, has included this exhibit, which sits in Berlin’s Bode Museum, in his new book, Wonder Beyond Belief: On Christianity. Kermani does something both refreshingly cheeky and philosophically instructive. [More]

Artists from 31 countries to exhibit work at 20th Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival

By Salam Al Amir
A ceramic by Salim Jawhar, one of the previous works on display at the Islamic Arts Festival at Sharjah Art Museum. Pawan Singh / The National
SHARJAH, UAE---Artists from 31 countries from across the world are to take part in this year’s 20th edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival (SIAF). The SIAF, organized by the Sharjah Cultural Affairs Department and with a theme of “impact”, will start on December 13 and run until January 23, 2018. It is to include 81 artworks that will be showcased in different venues across the emirate. Mohammed Al Qaseer, general coordinator of SIAF, said that 270 activities will take place as part of the festival, including 44 exhibitions, 46 lectures and 153 workshops. More than 30 of the exhibitions are to be held at the Sharjah Art Museum, presenting the works of five artists from the UAE, as well as others from Arab countries and countries around the world. [More]