Private View: Human and Divine

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The Independent Online

Recently opened at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, is an exhibition that can't, or at least shouldn't, be viewed in the usual Western, art historical way. Its subject is Indian Sculpture: 74 works in wood, bronze, stone and terracotta of the many gods and goddesses of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist religions.

Recently opened at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, is an exhibition that can't, or at least shouldn't, be viewed in the usual Western, art historical way. Its subject is Indian Sculpture: 74 works in wood, bronze, stone and terracotta of the many gods and goddesses of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist religions.

Between them, the objects span 2,000 years, yet there is little stylistic development and no clear progression from ancient to modern. The message is that the history of Indian sculpture is not about how things look, nor is it about the men who made them. Rather it is about what they mean.

One of the achievements of this show is that it manages to make some sense of the complex symbolism behind the works - a world where religious experience is deeply felt and very much a part of daily life. Some of the sculptures here are grand, public pieces while others are very modest: presented not simply as objects of worship, but as integral parts of the household.

A fine and revealing exhibition that balances spiritualism and sensuality; a marriage of the human and divine.

'Human and Divine', The New Art Gallery, Gallery Square, Walsall (01922 654400), until 17 Sept

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