A lavishly produced book on Indian art, Dictionary of Indian Art & Artists fills up a lacuna within the study of Indian art. Although the entries for contemporary Indian art are informative and exhaustive this book aims to reach back to the past as much as possible within the constraint of a dictionary format and also offers elucidation of technical terms concerning art practice. The ambitious scope of the enterprise is encapsulated by the book jacket that conjures up a collage of images from the past juxtaposed against a typical modernist painting by an abstract artist: a statue of the Sarnath Buddha and an Ajanta Boddhisattva jostle against a Dasavatara Ganjifa and a female figure by Hemendranath Mazumdar. If one were to browse through the book, the interspersing of the words and images can cast a mesmerizing hold on one’s attention and the high quality of the reproduction cannot help evoking one’s admiration. Containing 1700 entries with 320 visuals in colour and black and white, emphasis on the verbal and the visual appears very balanced and carefully laid out.
October 2006, volume 30, No 10