Rock Art Exhibitions


rockart_2012_logoExhibition on Adi Drshya: A Primeval Vision of Man

The Sanskrit term Adi Drshya is an indicator of multiple levels of interpretations of the world Adi (Primeval). The IGNCA has envisaged an Adi Drshya exhibition which will create for the viewer, a degree of experiential contact with prehistoric art. It would provide the basis for entering into the changing aspects of the living arts of man. It is believed that man’s awareness of the world around came through his primeval sense of sight and sound. These two scenes have stimulated artists’ expressions, visual and aural, in the prehistoric past as also in the contemporary cultures. Exploring through the faculty of sight, we can construct the kinds of world view that have nearly ceased to exist, and try to infer from that the articulation of lifestyle that continue to the present only in radically altered ways. Besides, the emphasis will be given to create in the viewer both a perception of time as well as the unchanging material and non-material needs in the physical and environmental setting common to all of humankind without linking the past and the present in an evolutionary framework.

While considering the diversity of form and manifold concept of time there is no good reason to restrict the understanding of rock art in terms of linear time, making it out fixed points of time in history. On the conceptual side the exhibition will attempt to bring out the universals amongst different cultures that existed in the pre-historic times. It is intended that by placing side by side cross-cultural products, it can be demonstrated that there are universals in this system of visualisation, holding great relevance today. In fact, it will be endeavour to create among Indian’s a greater appreciation of the past heritage and its continuum.

The prehistoric rock art has been interpreted with different theoretical orientations – generally based on vague and misguided notions of “primitive mentality”. Primitive man is denied of having “deeper aesthetic feelings” and “highest moral and intellectual speculations”. Following the evolutionary approach – addressing the propositions about human cognitive development and the process of evolutioning emergence of language – “scientific” claims are made for the “origin of art”. But we should not ignore the fact that in the old world the cosmocentric view dominated the lifestyle. Even the authors of rock art and sages of the Upanisadic philosophy reveal the same experience of the cosmos and man’s place in it. Both look at the universes sacred artifacts. Interestingly, the text of the classical Indian theory of art is consistent with the context of what is known today as aboriginal art. The fundamental intuition, motifs and styles of rock art persist in their art.

The significance of prehistoric rock art forms, designs, colours and concepts perhaps reinforces and continues to emphasise the vitality of the traditional way. These elements, most probably, basic to all arts, allow the artists to visualise their concepts and traditions. Traditional philosophy expresses the vitality of the emerging contemporary art. Drawing analogy from the theme of tribal art, we can safely state that people in the prehistoric period might have conceptualised the nature into art form and worshipped the presiding deities and spirits for better living. The basic urge, which had compelled and prompted the people to manifest art, was utilitarian purpose, invoking sympathetic magic to ensure a constant food supply. The principal food of the shelter dwellers was games hunted so regularly. By portraying animals the shelter – dwellers perhaps believed, it would give them success in hunting, and there would be a plentiful supply of wild animals that made them fell prey to their weapons, when they went on hunting. Thus, the prehistoric rock art acquires status of magico – religious nature. Some scholars suggest that rock shelter paintings of antelopes pierced with spears may also have served as magic invocations of success, because several tribal groups still make images personifying evil and ceremonially decapitate them.

The proposed exhibition based on the documentation and acquisitions already done by the IGNCA would not address to periodisation of rock art, which is sunk in a maze of controversies. Besides, a comprehensive viewing of rock art is not always an easy task because superimpositions, composite associations and cognitive accumulation have come about in the course of time. Therefore, the main focus of the exhibition would be on the social patterns and lifestyle of the Early Man and on the regional variations of the rock art depictions. Display of indigenous living art traditions would also form the part of the exhibition.

In the proposed exhibition one section will be on Rock Art of India and would mainly be based on the documentation and acquisitions already done by the IGNCA. This section would highlight/ show social patterns and lifestyle of the Early Man with the regional variations of the rock art depictions. Display of indigenous living art traditions of the communities of Saura (Odisha), Warli (Maharashtra), Rathwa (Gujrat) would also form a separate part of this section in the exhibition. The international section of exhibition on rock art would mainly base on the photographs collected from the delegates. For which we have got the permission. The exhibition will design / displayed in collaboration with the Archaeological society (IAS), New Delhi. The work for exhibition is in progress. An exhibition catalogue would be brought out on the occasion.