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The exhibition Re-take of Amrita by the Indian artist Vivan Sundaram will be on display at The Crow Collection in Dallas through June 22nd, 2014.

Sundaram is one of the the most renowned contemporary Indian artists. Born in 1943 and trained at the University of Baroda , since the 1960s Sundaram has exhibited sculptures, installations, videos and photographs. With Re-Take of Amrita, he revisits his family history through photographs taken by his grandfather, Umrao Sher Gil.

Umrao Sher Gil (1870-1954) belonged to  a wealthy family of landowners in the Punjab. He was a scholarly man whose interests ranged from philosophy, science, art, Sanskrit and Persian literature to photography. From 1904 to the 1940s, he photographed his friends and family: his wife, a Hungarian opera singer, his two daughters and their cousin, and the young Vivan himself. The settings of his photographs are in various homes of Sher-Gil in India (Shimla) and Europe (Budapest, Paris). This remarkable collection of 1500 vintage prints, 300 glass plate negatives, 250 negative and 15 autochromes is today overseen by Umrao’s grandchildren, Vivan and his sister. A part of it was exhibited in Arles in 2007.

With Re-take of Amrita (2000-2005), the artist opens up the family album and offers a new interpretation of these portraits and scenes from their daily life by making photomontages out of the original images.

At the heart of this work is Amrita, a key figure in modern Indian painting who died suddenly at 28. She began painting at age five. Trained in Florence and Paris, she was heavily inspired by Cézanne and Gauguin. Back in India in 1935, the traveled throughout the south of the country, painting, until her death in 1941.

The 56 photomontages of Re-take Amrita are a family reconstruction through the complex knot of its members’ relationships. Vivan Sundaram interprets and reconstructs the ties between Umrao and his daughter, Amrita, or the relationship between the two sisters. Love between father and daughter where one becomes a reflection of the other, portraits of two sisters and their doubles painted by Amrita: the characters come back to life with a startling presence.

This is a remarkable work which summons the past through powerful and wonderful images that transport us into the intimacy of an extraordinary family.

Vivan Sundaram : Re-take of Amrita
Until June 22, 2014
Crow Collection of Asian Art
2010 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 


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Vivan Sundaram

Vivan Sundaram (born 1943) is an Indian contemporary artist. He studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda (BA Fine, 1965) and at the Slade School, London (Post-Diploma, 1968, on a Commonwealth Scholarship). His parents were ...