Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Aga Khan Museum: 'The Garden of Ideas' Exhibit

This weekend I managed to drop in on the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. What a place! With a somewhat forbidding citadel-like exterior, the stark overpowering angularity of the architecture and landscaped 'pools'  (designed by Vladimir Djurovic) are vividly contrasted to the florid delicacy of the historic and contemporary miniatures dwelling within. Overall, the place projects a lion-hearted, yet oddly timorous, 'soul' ...

The exhibit I particularly wanted to see was 'The Garden of Ideas: Contemporary Art of Pakistan'. The brochure reads, "Created for pleasure, spiritual reflection and aesthetic contemplation, gardens have held many meanings. Beyond their beauty, they represent the human impulse to organize, contain, and collect the natural world. Without cultivation, a garden would cease to exist. Similarly, without cultivation of the mind and the soul, it is believed a society cannot progress' ...."

The exhibition begins with a walk-through-time in order to set the context for the 'contemporary' works ... Overall, the minute intricacy of brush and pen stroke of yore titillates the eye and mind. When confronted with the new works, the intricacy is still there, but 'modern' thoughts, feelings and expressions have taken over what was once artwork done for 'court'.

Some modern items particularly caught my eye ... I'm leading off though with a section of an historical image to give you a sense of that. (Note: I have not documented the artist or the title of the works. This foray was primarily about getting 'an impression' without too much interference.)

From several centuries ago, the tradition, symbolism and talent are self-evident. 

Now the modern stuff ...
(sorry about the pot light reflective glare on a few of these shots)

(Appropriately entitled, 'Threatened' ...)

 (yes, that's a map of England on the wall ...)

(my personal favourite, yes BUSY, but balanced & complex)

... leave you to draw your own conclusions ... 

As the landscape design (and newly planted trees) around this austere monster structure mature, 
the outdoor patio & reflective pools will certainly become a welcoming oasis in that quarter of Toronto.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it's a 7. Worth a visit.

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