"In Delight We Grow: Art of India from the collection of Tom Knechtel"
September 6 – October 21, 2006.
Reception: Thursday, September 7, 6-8 PM
Pasadena City College Art Gallery presents the first public exhibition of Indian drawings, paintings and folk art collected over a period of 25 years by the well-known contemporary artist Tom Knechtel.
This show embraces diverse aspects of the visual culture of India, including artists’ preparatory studies, fantastical notebook drawings, and hand-drawn instructional charts for meditation. While most of the approximately thirty works in the show date from the 18th or 19th century, the collection ranges from a court painting of the Mewar school dated 1680 to small paintings created for religious pilgrims in the year 2000. This exhibit provides an opportunity to consider India’s art from the perspective of a contemporary American artist steeped in Western art traditions. Knechtel, known for his exquisitely rendered painted tableaux, is a graduate of CalArts and a professor at Art Center College of Design. As he writes in a brochure accompanying the show, Knechtel finds Indian painting to be an ongoing source of “euphoria,” because it “offers such a powerful antidote to the prevailing aesthetics of Western painting. The straitjacket of Western perspective is thrown away, and in its place is a rich and complex reimagining of how space, landscape and architecture can be represented. Color is approached as a set of powerful subtle juxtapositions, as often as not descriptive of emotional states rather than physical reality. Above all, it is painterly, attuned to nuances of touch and the trail of a brushed line, to adjustments of form and color, synthesizing information from the throbbing variegated world into relationships on a flat surface. As such, Indian art continues to challenge my own sense of what painting can be.”
Knechtel’s collection reflects his curiosity about how paintings come to be, as well. Much of the exhibit consists of drawings, many of them produced as a byproduct of the painting process. Layered with invented figures, carefully individualized portraits, and revisions of compositional ideas, these drawings provide intimate access to the anonymous artists’ underlying processes of working out a painting. Along with the work of classical Indian painters, Knechtel’s collection embraces Indian folk art, including several “yantra” drawings that reflect the distinct folk cultures of India—yantras are charts made by an artist or a guru to guide a devotee through a religious meditation.
The title of the exhibition is drawn from the Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of India written between the eighth and fourth centuries BC:
From Delight we came into existence In Delight we grow At the end of our journey’s close Into Delight we retire.
A midcareer survey of Tom Knechtel’s own work, "On Wanting to Grow Horns: The Little Theatre of Tom Knechtel," toured the US in 2002. He is represented by Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles. Knechtel is a professor at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.
"In Delight We Grow: Art of India from the collection of Tom Knechtel" Wednesday, September 6 through Saturday, October 21 in the Pasadena City College Art Gallery. PUBLIC RECEPTION: Thursday, September 7, 6 – 8 PM
RELATED EVENTS: Public talks by Tom Knechtel and Indian art specialist Ed Rothfarb are being planned in conjunction with this exhibition. Details TBA: Please contact Gallery Director Brian Tucker at (626) 585-7721 for current information.
PCC ART GALLERY HOURS: Monday through Thursday: 11:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M; Friday, Saturday: Noon to 4:00 P.M. Closed Sundays.
Gallery admission, reception and related events are all free of charge and open to the public.