Hashiya: The Margin explores the historical concept of the illustrated margin through contemporary art
Anant Art Gallery presents Hashiya: The Margin a major exhibition exploring for the first time the tradition of illustrated margins in miniatures through contemporary art. The exhibition will be inaugurated by the poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar, and guests of honour Prof. B.N Goswamy and Salima Hashmi at Bikaner House, Pandara Road on Friday 30th March 2018, 6 pm.
Exploring the miniaturist concept of the margin in a contemporary context, the exhibition brings together the works and perspectives of ten distinguished artists, Manisha Gera Baswani, Alexander Gorlizki, Desmond Lazaro, Ghulam Mohammad, Nusra Latif Qureshi, V Ramesh, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Yasir Waqas and Saira Wasim. Through their work, the artists are responding to the concept of ‘hashiya’ or ‘the margin’, an idea that originally arose from the muraqqa of the 16th century - capacious albums of independent miniature works, which included independent paintings, portraits, genre scenes, allegories, fantasies or interpretations of poetry, massed together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. The hashiya is a frame that conditions us to see something in a particular way. It is a space of adornment, in which the artist embellishes the edges of the page to pay homage to the things that lie at the centre.
One of the most alluring and intriguing aspects of the album was the hashiya of the album page. While the leaves of the album were of uniform size, the things that were pasted onto them often varied greatly in their dimensions. This meant that there was a margin, narrow or broad, around the items pasted on each page. In illustrated manuscripts, the margin was usually a dead space, a space of no significance. But in the album, this margin or hashiya became another field of play.
Artists embellished the hashiya in a myriad of ways. They might fill it with scrollwork and arabesques. Little birds fluttered across the patterned field, and sometimes the alert reader would see a bird pursue a butterfly on one page, only to catch it in the next. Around a painting about poets and sages declaiming fine words, battles might rage with mythical birds and dragons in furious combat.
The exhibition Hashiya: The Margin takes inspiration from the Mughal artist who bent over the album page four hundred years ago, adding his own ideas, comments, appreciation and dissent, to the images that he was told simply to decorate, bringing the concept into a contemporary setting for the first time. “While looking at Indian painting, how often, one might ask oneself, does one notice the border, the hashiya, surrounding it? And yet in many ways one would be missing out on something of interest, even significance, if one does not pay attention. For there are hashiyas and hashiyas that one comes upon: each engaging in its own right, some adding to, even interpreting, the main image, enhancing our understanding of it”, says Prof B. N. Goswamy. “This Exhibition breaks completely fresh ground therefore. For not only does one see in it the hashiya in pre-modern paintings in its true perspective - as the concept note and the accompanying essay do - but also the responses of a number of distinguished contemporary artists to the theme. There are joys and meanings to discover in their work as they look over their shoulders and take the hashiya in their ambit.”
HASHIYA: THE MARGIN opens on Friday 30th March 2018, 6pm, Bikaner House, Pandara Road, New Delhi and continues until 24th April 2018. Open daily from 11.00am – 7.00pm