There is nothing quite like the feeling of being a tourist in a new country, and stumbling into a city or neighborhood there that makes you feel like a tourist in a completely different way. It’s a bit like a person who visits New York City for the first time and wanders into Chinatown — that small slice of Chinese culture in the great American metropolis can act like a tiny transport to another culture.
This is how I felt visiting the latest art exhibition titled India! at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) in Rio de Janeiro. A tourist in Brazil and a stranger to Portuguese, I became for a few hours a tourist lost within the art and history of India. It’s a disconcerting feeling to say the least, but CCBB’s India!, the largest display of Indian art and culture in Brazil to date, is a fascinating tour through unfamiliar art and artists.
A massively overwhelming exhibition in the best sense of the word, like the exhibitions the Met pulls together on a regular basis, India! is almost an anthropological survey of Indian culture seen through art. Divided into four themes — People, Gods, The Formation of Modern India, and Contemporary Art — it is the contemporary section of the exhibition that predictably felt the most relevant. Though we tend to study the art and artifacts of ancient cultures, what current artists are saying about contemporary life in those same cultures is always much less familiar.
The art critic Gregory Volk likes to say that American artists are not as aware as they should be of international artists, and while our museums regularly show many European artists, I was certainly not familiar with the contemporary Indian artists in this exhibit. All prominent artists in their country, they also happened to stay in the same guesthouse I did in Rio de Janeiro, (albeit a month or so after the opening of India!) run by an artist and musician couple. The hostess of the b&b enjoyed telling me amusing stories over breakfast of the parties and conversations she’d had with the artists during the opening week, many of which involved her suggesting new projects or changes to their current pieces.
The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil does not have the look or feel of an art museum. Instead, it acts more like a multi-purpose cultural center, hosting lectures, concerts and movies in addition to art exhibitions. Full of balconies, elevators and elevator operators that only speak Portuguese, CCBB is a confusing maze of hallways.
Though India! at first glance looked like a small, two-room show, it turned out to be a vast, unending experience, as one room lead somehow into another and another. I spent as much time wondering what I’d missed as I did discovering new vaults and corridors. Built in 1906 and beautifully restored, the CCBB is a tourist destination in the center of Rio, but the events and exhibitions it hosts feel anything but touristy. Because of the significant tax deductions the city of Rio gives for-profit institutions (like the banks) for investing in art and culture, it’s in CCBB’s own best interest to be a reputable and recognized cultural center.
India! is a proactive and captivating exhibition, the kind that should travel elsewhere and will hopefully make contemporary Indian art and artists more familiar to other international artists.
India! will up through January 29 at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
In yet another horror movie that’s actually about trauma, writer-director Alex Garland makes his points bluntly, having one actor play many facets of misogyny.
Time is itself a recycling process for Cole, whose freewheeling spirit transcends linearity in his excavations of art and music history.
A journey spanning three continents over 1,500 years comes to the National Mall in Washington, DC. On view at the Smithsonian’s NMAA through September 18.
Drawing from a wide range of personal influences, McQueen deconstructed myths and facts and refashioned them into his desired story.
Intervención/Intersección, the latest venture from MASA Galería, is a humming subversion of what public art can look like.
Graduate student work representing 19 disciplines is featured in a digital publication and returns as an in-person exhibition at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
The phishers posted an “official minting link” to a fraudulent raffle from the famous NFT artist’s account.
Through jubilant performances and speeches, the city’s first-ever Blasian March connected the large but disparate communities.
Installations by Jessica Campbell, Yasmine K. Kasem, Suchitra Mattai, Haleigh Nickerson, and Nyugen E. Smith are now on view at JMKAC in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
“I am an artist and a human being struggling to get out of this unjust prison, but every day my love of free and honest art grows firmer,” the persecuted artist said in a statement from a maximum-security prison in Cuba.
Lewis’s tattered canvases and pasted over drawings mirror a world in need of constant upkeep and repair.
Seeing the Toronto Biennial of Art through my daughter’s eyes helped me push past some of its challenges by experiencing it on a primordial level.