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Indian Rajput court paintings to go on exhibition at the Met in New York

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‘The Sage Durvasa Helps the Gopis Quiet the Yamuna River’ originates from North India and is dated to around 1580.

‘The Sage Durvasa Helps the Gopis Quiet the Yamuna River’ originates from North India and is dated to around 1580.

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Steven M. Kossak decided at age 36 to return to school and pursue a degree in art history. Soon thereafter, he joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a research assistant, and worked his way up the totem pole to his current position, where he serves as full curator of the museum’s Asian Art department.

In a little over two weeks, the museum plans to open a new exhibit titled, “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—the Kronos Collections,” which features nearly 100 works Kossak once purchased for his own private collection. Now worth millions of dollars, Kossak and his family have promised to bestow the works upon the museum as a token.

Kossak said as a collector he became endeared to the colorful paintings of northern India’s small kingdoms from the 16th and 19th centuries. The pieces were inspired by Hindu myths and poetry, watercolors were used to record the images of love, life and the country’s gods. The titles are just as colorful — “Krishna and the Gopas [Cowherds] Huddle in the Rain” and “Krishna Swallows the Forest Fire.”

Kossak said each purchase was made because of its emotional response. “It’s lightning-bolt recognition across the board,” he said.

‘The Devi, in the Form of Bhadrakali, Adored by the Gods’ (c. 1660-80).

‘The Devi, in the Form of Bhadrakali, Adored by the Gods’ (c. 1660-80).

“They pack a wallop in content, style and beautiful color,” said Vishakha Desai, president emerita and Asian-art scholar of the Asia Society. “You can enjoy them whether you know the content or not. Any museum would want this.”

The paintings also fill a void that the Met — and several other premiere art institutions — have on their walls when it comes to south Asian art. Mughal paintings were once the most popular among wealthy collectors, foreign royalty and even Russian czars. However, Rajput paintings are more colorful and reflect what can be seen in India today, said Milo C. Beach, an Indian-art specialist and former director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery.

“It’s a much more alive kind of painting,” Beach said. “Because of this gift,” he continued, “the Met will be unrivaled in Rajput paintings among American museums.”

Kossak began collecting Indian paintings back in the 70s, and his collection grew larger after joining the Met’s staff — through the museum’s network, he was introduced to more expansive web of art dealers. During his tenure at the Met from 1986 until 2006, Kossak did all he could to form a complete Rajput collection. “When the Met couldn’t afford it, I bought it,” he said.

Though the museum was reluctant to accept the situation, there was no stopping Kossak.

“The basic rule at the Met then was one of trust,” said Philippe de Montebello, the museum’s director at the time. “He would have brought it to the attention of the museum, and said ‘If you’re not going to go after it, then I will.’ ”

‘Rama and Sita in the Forest: A Thorn Is Removed from Rama’s Foot,’ from the Punjab Hills (c. 1800-10)

‘Rama and Sita in the Forest: A Thorn Is Removed from Rama’s Foot,’ from the Punjab Hills (c. 1800-10)

The collection has never officially been valued — early on, Kossak would have paid less than $50,000 for one of the paintings. Now, dealers say several of them could fetch between $500,000 and $800,000, with some of his rarest pieces going for a few million dollars each. Kossak estimates the gift to the museum is worth between $15 and $20 million.

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Trump ends $5.6B GSP trade preference for India

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Trump is ending $5.6 billion worth of trade concessions for India under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences program effective this week, saying India failed to assure the U.S. that it would provide ‘equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.

Bay Area Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo reintroduced a bill to save work authorization visas for H-4 holders whose spouses are on track to get a green card. Many of those eligible are Indian American women.

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education released new social studies standards, which for the first time include Sikhism. Nearly 700,000 students in Oklahoma public schools will now learn more about the Sikh community, in this effort spearheaded by the Sikh Coalition.

The Golden State Warriors played through two more injuries to rotation players to beat the Raptors in Toronto 109-104 to even the NBA Finals at a game a piece.

Diya TV’s Ravi Kapur and Jonathan Choe are on-site and will have more courtside.

And we talk to the stars of Netflix’s newest romantic comedy ‘Always Be My Maybe,’ a feature that offers a story & characters Asian Americans will find relatable from some of the most talented names in Hollywood.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Women filmmakers shine at the 2019 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

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IFFLA staff with the 2019 festival winners

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — The 17th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) concluded Sunday night with the zany slice-of-life film, The Odds, directed by Megha Ramaswamy. Complete with a glamorous closing night red carpet, and an awards ceremony, the festival ended with an after party at the Spice Affair in Beverly Hills.

(From Left to Right) Praveen Morchale, Christina Marouda, Shazia Iqbal, Anand Patwardhan, Nitin Sonawane , Divya Kohli Courtesy: Javeed Sheikh Photography

IFFLA was only four days this year (compared to five days in previous years), but there was still so much to see during that time. In addition to the curated set of films, there was an incredible panel discussion, Breaking in Brown: Making it to Series in TV’s Golden Age, that featured panelists working in various fields in the television industry and their struggles to rise up through the ranks in the Hollywood while being brown.

Panel Discussion Breaking in Brown. Courtesy: Javeed Sheikh Photography

This year’s film lineup boasted five world premieres, two North American premieres, two U.S. premieres and eleven Los Angeles Premieres, with films presented in nine different languages. The overall atmosphere was very relaxed, even with films that tackled difficult subject matters. Roughly fifty percent of the films were directed by women. Filmmakers and staff alike hoped for a future where it will be normal to have women and men equally making films.

Kicking off the awards ceremony, Director of Programming, Mike Dougherty, announced the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature, Widow of Silence.

“We present the Grand Jury prize to a film that illuminates a condition that most of the world doesn’t get to see and shines a light on the characters that live through it everyday…This filmmaker’s civic disobedience illustrates their love and compassion for their country and their people, and the craft of their film-making was beautifully wise and refined.”

Director Praveen Morchhale was visibly surprised as he walked up to receive his award. The film he said was about those, “that nobody talks about and nobody treats them as a human.” Even though it was Morchhale’s first time at IFFLA, he felt as if he had been coming here for many years. He credited his win to the women in Kashmir the film portrayed.

The Audience Award for Best Feature went to Reason. Director Anand Patwardhan received a standing ovation when he went to collect his award. Patwardhan said, “most of the time our film is getting thrown out of festivals, I wasn’t expecting this.” He added that it meant a lot for the film to be well received at IFFLA and how that will hopefully impact its reception in India.

Shazia Iqbal’s Bebaak was a crowd favorite winning the Audience Award For Best Short Film. The jury mentioned how she almost gave up on filming because she was getting thrown out of mosques. Iqbal spoke about how when people think of Muslims, they only think of Muslim men and not women, many of whom experience tremendous misogyny. She hopes people will be able to “see beyond what misogyny and religion does to people.” Iqbal added, “a director is nothing without their team.”

“a layered portrait of a woman determined to pursue her needs and impulses,” the Grand Jury awarded their prize for Best Short to The Field from director Sandhya Suri. “the film takes images that normally evoke a sense of fear and flips the narrative on its head redefining a new more empowered world for the female protagonist and exploring an often unseen story of a woman’s drive and agency over her own body and life,” the jury added.

After the awards, Dougherty introduced the closing night film, The Odds by saying the film was the “perfect way to close IFFLA on a celebratory note.”


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Bollywood actress Tabu honored at 2019 IFFLA Opening Night

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Actress Tabassum 'Tabu' being honored before the screening of her film Andhadhun at 2019 IFFLA Opening Night

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — The 17th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is officially underway, kicking off the festivities last night at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills with a tribute to the renowned Bollywood actress Tabu.

Actress Tabassum 'Tabu' in conversation before the opening night film Andhadhun at IFFLA
Actress Tabassum ‘Tabu’ in conversation before the opening night film Andhadhun at IFFLA

Christina Marouda, Founder and Executive Director of IFFLA, introduced Tabu’s notable accomplishments. “Her work and personality embody everything that IFFLA is about” Marouda said “being fearless, versatile, independent in spirit, unwilling to compromise, brilliant in the range of her performances, and simply beautiful. With half of the festival’s 2019 line-up directed by female filmmakers, this [year’s IFFLA] couldn’t be a stronger celebration of women in Indian cinema.”

The audience was treated to a moderated interview with Tabu in which she discussed her interest in flawed and immoral characters, as well as how she has enjoyed combining a career of commercial success with one of artistic reinvention.

The interview was followed by a screening of Tabu’s most recent film Andhadhun, directed by Sriram Raghavan and co-starring Ayushmann Khurrana. The black comedy is a triumph of chaos in all the right ways; weaving humor with horrible acts of violence, shifting storylines and ratcheting up the tension. Tabu brings her legendary intensity to every scene, flowing effortlessly from casual and comical to duplicitous and menacing. She is a villain in a story with no true hero, allowing her to flex her most manipulative muscles.

IFFLA is unabashedly confronting diversity in Hollywood, not as a trend, but as a mission. Not only featuring a curated set of film programs designed to support the growing interest in the Indian entertainment industry, but – just as importantly – supporting filmmakers of Indian and South Asian descent in career development and expanding opportunity as they establish themselves in various mainstream Hollywood systems.

This years programming includes Ronny Sen’s directorial debut Cat Sticks, which screened at Slamdance, Ashish Pandey’s Kashmir-set drama Nooreh, which won at Busan, family drama Love Goes Through Your Mind, directed by UCLA alum Ronak Shah and Safdar Rahman’s Chippa. Additional programming also features a TV-centric panel titled ‘Breaking in Brown: Making it to Series in TV’s Golden Age’ featuring the work of South Asian talent in broadcast and streaming.

The 17th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is taking place April 11-14, 2019 at Regal L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles. The Opening and Closing Night Galas will be at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. For tickets and information on programming visit https://www.indianfilmfestival.org

Diya TV is a proud sponsor of the festival

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