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LACMA Presents First Major Museum Showing of Indian Comics
Abishek Singh (India), "Ravan, the Demon of Lanka," Ramayan 3392 AD, Issue 5, 2006. Pencil, ink, and watercolor (?) on paper, 24 x 17 in. Liquid Comics, Bangalore, India.
LOS ANGELES, CA. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents "Heroes and Villains: The Battle for Good in India’s Comics," an exhibition comprised of fifty-three paintings, works on paper, and vintage comic books, on view from October 17, 2009 through February 7, 2010. The exhibition examines the legacy of India’s divine heroes and heroines in contemporary South Asian culture through the comic book genre.

Indian comic book superheroes and their arch enemies are visualized from ancient archetypes that have long been depicted in traditional painting and sculpture, and are deeply ingrained in India’s historical imagination. In contemporary comic books, Indian gods and goddesses are modern-day superheroes, manifested on Earth to vanquish evil forces. Demons take the form of modern villains, raising havoc in today’s troubled times. Heroes and Villains, curated by Julie Romain and Tushara Bindu Gude, mines the history of the comic book in India from the 1960s through the present. It explores the evolution of early Indian comics, which were modeled on American superhero comics, through the Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Picture Stories), a popular series based on traditional Indian epic literature and religious texts recounting the heroic deeds of Indian gods and goddesses.

“This is the first exhibition of Indian comics on view at a major museum,” said Romain. “Here at LACMA we have the unique opportunity to consider this contemporary art form in relation to our extensive historical collection of South and Southeast Asian art.”

Today, comic book production takes place in a global cultural context and within a multi-media framework that combines traditional hand-drawn illustrations with computer design and animation technology. The exhibition explores this process through a survey of Liquid Comics’ Devi and Ramayan series, which were inspired by heroic characters from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and other Indian texts. Liquid Comics (formerly Virgin Comics) is an animation studio based in Bangalore.

To illustrate the continuity of the heroic narrative tradition in Indian art, a selection from LACMA’s historical collection of Indian paintings will also be on view. These include folios from Mughal illustrated manuscripts, paintings and drawings from the northern Indian princely states, and story-telling paintings from central India.





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