November 2011

Colours of India: a mosaic of landscapes, ethnies and religious beliefs

For immediate release

Montréal, November 7, 2011 – With its exclusive presentation of Colours of India, Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, offers a voyage into a mosaic of landscapes, ethnicities, and beliefs that have shaped Indian life, artistic expression, and culture. Through this exhibition—which coincides with the Year of India in Canada—Pointe-à-Callière is seeking to convey the importance of India’s cultural and religious heritage.

“It is essential for the Museum to create ties with Montréal’s various cultural communities and to increase awareness of the cultures and traditions of the great civilizations. Colours of India will share the age-old customs of a country of great diversity and undeniable beauty,” explains Pointe-à-Callière’s Executive Director, Francine Lelièvre.

An incredible variety of colours that goes on ad infinitum
Geographically, socially, and culturally diverse, India expresses its heritage and traditions through religions, clothing, theatre, celebrations, religious ceremonies, and daily life. As an introduction to Indian civilization, the exhibition features some fifty photographs by Suzanne Held, along with close to one hundred objects from the collections of the Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet in Paris. Presented alongside Suzanne Held’s majestic photos are sculptures, works of art, textiles, clothing, and finery. Film excerpts and soundtracks depicting major Indian ceremonies and rituals complete and enrich the visitor’s exhibition experience.

Among the objects on display will be captivatingly beautiful terra cotta, stone, bronze, and wood statues dating from the 2nd to the 19th century AD, representing kings or mythical gods, deity ornaments, or objects associated with rites. Also featured will be vibrantly coloured Indian textiles, including saris, shawls, veils, odhnis, turbans, and coats from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet’s impressive textile collection comes mainly from the personal collection of Krishna Riboud, the great-grandniece of Nobel laureate for literature Rabindranath Tagore. Well aware of the textiles’ priceless heritage value, Krishna Riboud worked for many years to preserve various fabrics, costumes, and clothing that today are part of this superb collection. It should be noted that India has been world-renowned for its variety of textiles since the days of antiquity.

A dozen objects from The Royal Ontario Museum complete the collection of objects being presented in Montréal.

Showcasing the world’s beauty
Suzanne Held is an internationally renowned reporter and photographer. She has travelled the globe, from Easter Island to the kingdoms of the Himalayas, taking a solitary approach to people and places. Over the course of over forty trips to India, she has brilliantly recorded the daily lives of the inhabitants of this vast country. Suzanne Held has successfully illustrated their close relationships with the sacred and the profane, their traditions, myths, beliefs, and rituals. Her works offer a harmonious representation of shapes and colours—from the ochre of the earth to translucent saris that play with light. About India, she has said, “It is the only country in the world with this quality of light, that reflects off the ochre-red soils, with white marble and sandstone monuments that stand out, imposing and highly sculptural. India is a hymn to colour, to grace, to aestheticism. Nothing there is vulgar, all is of infinite grace and beauty.”

Suzanne Held will be at the Museum to provide exclusive commentary on several of her photos, Saturday and Sunday, November 12 and 13, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

A shimmering book
To complement Colours of India, Pointe-à-Callière is offering a book that will allow readers to further their exhibition visit through a selection of valuable objects, in addition to magnificent photographs by Suzanne Held, and an interview with the photographer. One thousand and one colours of India to explore.

About India
Few countries have a territory as varied as that of India, with its snowy landscapes, deserts, hills, plains, and plateaus. Located on the southern tip of Asia, India covers an area of over 3 million square kilometres, making it the 7th largest country in the world by geographical area. India’s current borders date back to 1947, the year of its emergence as a nation, and the creation of Pakistan. To the north lie the peaks of the Himalayas. Stretching out from the foot of these mountains and across the densely populated central region is the fertile Gangetic plain. The western region is largely made up of the arid Thar Desert. To the south, the Deccan Plateau is flanked by verdant hills called Ghats.

Presented from November 8, 2011 to April 22, 2012, Colours of India is produced by Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, through a partnership with the Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet, in Paris, and with Ms. Suzanne Held, photographer. Pointe-à-Callière thanks its sponsors: Air Canada Cargo, Astral, Tourisme Montréal, InterContinental Hotel, La Presse, and The Gazette.

The Museum is subsidized by the City of Montréal.