Art and asanas

An ongoing exhibition at the IGNCA highlights yoga in visual arts

Updated - October 18, 2016 12:50 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2016 06:32 pm IST

One of the works on display at the exhibition.

One of the works on display at the exhibition.

Even though the International Yoga Day is over the ancient form of meditation and exercise is still being celebrated in the Capital. One such is the ongoing exhibition “Yoga In Indian Visual Arts” hosted by Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts which explores various aspects of yoga through paintings, sculptures, scrolls, illustrated manuscripts and books, capturing the depiction of yogic exercises through the ages.

The 150 images taken from various museums are divided into three different sections: Jnana (knowledge), Dhyana (self-realisation) and Karma (actions). Explaining the combination of yoga and visual arts as depicted in the exhibition, curator Virendra Bangroo says, “When you see sculpture from the point of view of yoga then you see all Gods and Goddesses are in defined postures. It clearly indicates their acumen in yoga. Yoga in our philosophy means the ability to gain control over senses. The yogic expressions depicted through sculptures and paintings are meant for mental focus to understand the whole cosmic system.”

Bangroo says yoga is not merely a physical exercise as most people perceive it to be. “It is realising oneself and when we realise ourselves then only we can connect to the ultimate power. In this process, fitness is also very important as when you are fit enough then only you can concentrate and meditate. Yoga is holistic sort of learning which enlightens us about self and the whole universe.”

Looking at the exhibits one is taken in by a particular brass and copper sculpture of Vishnu Para Vasudeva taken from Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The 9th Century sculpture from Kashmir depicts Lord Vishnu as the preserver of the universe. “The Goddess Earth is lying beneath his feet. It is like the whole universe is under his aura. The sculpture is conveying Dhyana. God has got no image and this sculpture is meant to help you in focussing one’s ideas and energy ,” says Bangroo .

There is a collection of around 40 paintings from the period of Rani Laxmi Bai depicting various asanas including Vyasa, Kapali, Mayura, Surya, Rudra and many more. Delving on their aesthetic aspect Bangroo says, “We have learnt yoga from nature. Even if an animal is in a pose , we learn from it. The postures in the paintings basically portray that most of the yogic postures we have learnt are from nature itself.” This watercolour collection has some mesmerizing paintings taken from the library of the queen who fought heroically in the First War of Independence. Bangroo says, “These paintings indicate that her rigorous training included yoga.”

(On till June 30 at Exhibition Hall, IGNCA, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

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