Sound cannot be seen, but it can be heard and felt as vibrations, and it has the ability to move the spirit through music and memory. These experiences allow the knowledge and presence of sound to be visualized in painting, calligraphy, poetry, and photography. Featured in this special installation are Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Asian-inspired works of art ranging from the twelfth century to the present day that are drawn from the Museum’s collections and from the collection of Gérard and Dora Cognié.
This exhibition features a range of contemporary art practices that mine and reinterpret visual and narrative traditions from the Indian subcontinent. Envisioned as a conversation with Epic Tales from India: Paintings from the San Diego Museum of Art, an exhibition of traditional manuscript paintings and drawings, Contemporary Stories examines the ever-shifting meanings of such narratives as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in contemporary life.
Epic Tales from India includes ninety-one paintings from the collection of the San Diego Museum of Art—tiny treasures only a few inches in dimension but outsized in their impact. In this exhibition, the main objective is to present the paintings as illustrations to works of literature, attempting to recapture something of their original intent.
Epic Tales from India presents 91 paintings representing the major schools of South Asian painting from the 16th through the 19th century. The paintings have been selected from the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, one of the most important collections of South Asian narrative art outside of India.
Located at the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, along a cliff face on the outskirts of the city of Dunhuang in China’s far western Gansu Province, the sacred caves of Dunhuang present a vivid picture of the convergence of the religious traditions of Central Asia and China. The caves were built over a thousand-year period primarily for Buddhist worship. From the fourth to the fourteenth centuries, artisans produced brilliantly colored wall and ceiling paintings along with finely carved statues for the devotional communities served by the Dunhuang caves. This exhibition brings together original and twentieth-century materials in an effort to illuminate not only the visual splendors of Dunhuang but also the rich cultural and religious traditions of the region.
In addition to its lavish illustration and decoration program, one of the most immediately striking features of the Peck Shahnama is the large number of marginal inscriptions that it includes. While the addition of marginalia is a feature of many Arabic and Persian manuscripts, the Peck Shahnama is highly unusual in both the quantity and the variety of its marginal inscriptions, which provide suggestive indications of the sociocultural world to which the manuscript belonged.
At the western edge of China lies the Taklamakan Desert. Bordered by mountain ranges to its north and south, the desert stands as a forbidding gateway between the civilizations of East and Central Asia. To traverse this formidable expanse, two trade routes sprang up running along the northern and southern edges of the desert. These twin branches of the ancient Silk Road, which connected the Chinese empire to cities as far west as Rome and Constantinople, met in the oasis town of Dunhuang. Sacred Caves of the Silk Road: Ways of Knowing and Re-creating Dunhuang explores this unique site.