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  • Ravi Swami

The Wallace Collection, London

I recently visited The Wallace Collection in London to see a stunning exhibition of Indian Colonial Period art - it's on until March 2020 and well worth a look.

What was striking is the painstaking & mind-boggling level of detail in the botanical, biological and architectural art by indigenous artists on display - in particular, in the architectural renderings where the smallest details such as Islamic inscriptions and marble inlay work on, for example, The Taj Mahal are reproduced accurately at a very tiny scale - we're talking millimeters.

All this was achieved with no more than brushes with a very small number of hairs, watercolors and plenty of time and patience, along with an urge to reproduce things accurately.

It made me think how relatively easy it is to achieve similar levels of detail with present-day digital technology, although the time taken on "The Himalaya Palace" print spanned a few weeks at least and I strove to achieve a very fine level of detail, such as the tile work on the exterior and Oriental style friezes rendered in ceramic tiles under the roof which can be seen to its best advantage in large format prints.

Of course, the other thing that makes these works unique is that they are singular pieces of art, even if they were reproduced for print later, which seems unlikely since this is the first time that they have been seen publicly, whereas digital work can be reproduced endlessly without loss of quality.

Go see it if you can.

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