Bengaluru's MAP Museum challenges traditional perceptions of Indian art history
The MAP Museum of Art and Photography in Bengaluru, India recently opened its doors to the public. The five-storey, 44,000-square-foot building edifice is a private cultural institution and boasts some 60,000 art pieces. A CNN report said it challenges the traditional perception of art history of the Indian subcontinent. While the focus is on modern, pre-modern, and contemporary art, it also houses an extensive collection of art pieces from textiles, crafts, and print advertising.
The museum sports a variety of exhibits, including Bollywood memorabilia, traditional woven fabrics, carved deities, and more.
The man behind the museum is philanthropist and art collector Abhishek Poddar, who began the museum from his own private collection of 7,000 works and then donated more later. His aim was to dissolve the boundaries between "fine" art and "everyday creativity".
He told CNN, "The entire differentiation between 'high' art and 'low' art, decorative arts and fine arts, is not an Indian concept. It's a very Western construct. That's how we've grown up looking at it in museums, but not that's not how it is in life."
"India has some of the most amazing art, both in terms of what was made in the past and what's being made today. Why is it that we don't go to Indian museums, but every time we travel overseas, one of the first things we do is go to a museum over there?" Poddar added.
The museum is also aiming to contextualise the subcontinent's art history and to counter biases, with exhibitions such as Visible/Invisible, which explores the representation of women throughout Indian art history and questions prevailing perspectives, including the male gaze.
Kamini Sawhney, director and curator, told CNN, "India women are deified as goddesses and, at the other end of the spectrum, they are looked at as objects of desire. So where is the space in between for women to just be normal mortals with the ambitions, desires and frailties that all of us have?"