Karun Thakar is a collector and researcher of textiles. His discerning approach to collecting historical textiles from Asia and Africa for almost forty years has created one of the most important textile collections in private hands. He has collaborated with the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, with number of shows on African/Indian textiles and painted film posters. He has published five books on his textile collections with Hali Publications. He hosts regular digital shows on his website, http://www.karuncollection.com . His joint show with George Washington Textile Museum in DC, Indian Textiles: 1,000 years of Art and Design, opens in January 22. In 2021, he established the Karun Thakar Fund in collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum to support researchers and makers in the field of Asian and African textiles and dress. Through cloth he hopes to contribute to a wider understanding of postcolonial narratives.
I have known Joost for over two decades now, a great dealer who always finds the overlooked or forgotten in the art world and brings it to our attention. In the past shows he exhibited some exceptional tantric art pieces. He is now introducing us to relatively unknown paintings of Shrinathji done for visiting pilgrims in Nathdwara. Like Kalighat paintings these were produced in large numbers and were not very expensive, they were mainly used in domestic shrines. The paining I have selected from his wonderfully produced catalogue shows winter Shingara. Shrinathji is totally immersed in a sea of dramatic orange. The quilted garment covers the whole block set in grey and white surrounds. The shape of the arms is implied in the arch above the body but the repeat gold dot textile design ignores the shape and covers the whole block, giving us another dimension to the painterly surface. The very dramatic face painted in blue and black almost floats in the sea of orange. We can also see an angithi (brazier) in front which give additional warmth to the image. Viewer’s eye is further drawn into the orange garment by glimpses of two abstract domed shapes and ornament implying the sleeve openings, but the hands are tucked in and not visible. This tiny painting confronts us with a very sophisticated painterly dialogue.
Lamqua or studio c. 1850
Portrait of the ‘hong merchant’ Howqua
Oil on canvas
25 x 19 1/4 in (63.5 x 48.8 cm)
An amber-glazed marbled pottery tripod dish
Tang dynasty (618-906)
Diameter: 13.3 cm, 5 ¼ inches 唐 黃釉絞胎三足盤
Priestley & Ferraro