Ages before Vasily Kandinsky began hearing colors and seeing sounds, painters in India were translating melodies into gem-bright miniatures, inscribed with poems, in a genre known as ragamala. Fourteen alluring examples—part of a series made around 1630-50—fill a room in the wonderful show “Court, Epic, Spirit,” on view through March 24 at Luhring Augustine, in Tribeca. Co-organized with London’s Francesca Galloway gallery, the exhibition is a whirlwind tour of Indian art, from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, in just twenty-nine pieces, most of them paintings. Ask for a magnifying glass at the front desk, the better to lose yourself in the details: a pearl-and-gold piercing in an elephant’s ear at the coronation of Rama; a peacock in a tree overlooking a gang of drug-addled sadhus; the gray-flecked beard of “A Man of Commanding Presence” (pictured above). There are decorative flourishes, too, including a tall cotton panel intricately printed with flora and fauna in crimson and green, used to line what must have been a magnificent tent, pitched for royalty on the Coromandel Coast in the mid-seventeenth century—glampers, take note.
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