It’s the summer of Vishnu.
The god doesn’t get as much recognition as other Hindu deities (Shiva, Brahma, Amitabh Bachchan), but this summer, the first major Western exhibition devoted to the blue-skinned preserver comes to the Brooklyn Museum.
“When they give you the three-word speaking points about Vishnu, it sounds really dull — he’s the god who maintains things,” said Joan Cummins, curator of the exhibition, “Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior,” opening this Friday. “That sounds super boring compared to being the creator or the destroyer, but, in fact, what he does is save the world over and over again.”
As the savior, Vishnu takes on temporary bodies called avatars, which have different looks and personalities from the god, but are his trademark blue. These various representations will be on display in the show’s more than 170 objects, from textiles and paintings to bronzes and sculptures that span thousands of years, some as early as the fourth century.
The pieces explore the various legends of Vishnu, from fighting demons with a group of monkeys and bears as the avatar Rama, to his avatar Krishna, who’s “a real ladies man,” said Cummins, making for some gorgeous romantic imagery.
“The show combines really great works of art with a nice educational angle,” said Cummins. “If you’ve eaten Indian food and seen pretty paintings on the wall, but don’t know what they are, this is a nice introduction to Hinduism.”
“Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638-5000], June 24-Oct. 2. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.