ENDURING SPLENDOUR explores the traditions of the Thar Desert against the background of a 5,000-year history of jewellery making across the Indian subcontinent. Drawing on recent field research carried out in the city of Jaisalmer, a thriving centre of contemporary jewellery production, the exhibition looks at the lives and work of sonis (silversmiths or goldsmiths) and the symbiotic relationships that exist between jewellery and society, artist and jewellery, and artist and society.
The Fowler Museum also commissioned new silver works from four contemporary smiths, who executed and transformed traditional designs and techniques of manufacture in distinctive ways. A highlight is these commissioned objects, contextualised by a survey of 19th- and 20th-century jewellery types still worn by rural men and women from Rajasthan and Gujarat.
These older examples include earrings, anklets, bracelets, and necklaces and are borrowed from the Ronald and Maxine Linde Collection, one of the most comprehensive collections of Indian jewellery in the world.
The exhibition is divided into three sections, the first is an introduction to long-standing jewellery traditions on the Indian subcontinent using sculptures and paintings from LACMA’s collections, to explore ancient times through to the 17th and 19th century alongside jewellery from the Linde Collection. The second section focuses on 19th and 20th century jewellery from the Linde Collection that represents the traditions of the Thar Desert, India’s natural western border with Pakistan. The final section shows the newly commissioned work of the four sonis from Jaisalmer, accompanied by videos placing the jewellery into a living context.
Until 18 June at Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, www.fowler.ucla.edu. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.