This folio titled ‘Jesus at the Temple’ is a part of the Issanama series.
The Issanama commission lies at the intersection of art and history, and offers lush evidence of the plurality and syncretism inherent in Indian culture. It’s an artistic collaboration between the founder of Sarmaya, Paul Abraham and traditional miniaturist and third-generation artist, Manish Soni of Bhilwara, Rajasthan. As such, the Issanama offers a fresh model of art patronage for the contemporary era, one in which the patron enters into an intellectual dialogue with the artist.
The commission illustrates episodes from the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ in the exquisite landscape of the Hamzanama, the earliest expression of the Indian subcontinent’s celebrated Indo-Islamic art tradition.
In this work, a boy Jesus (centre) is engaged in philosophical discussions with elders of the temple. One either side of him are groups of wonderstruck men, while others look down from windows in the balconies or from the door. The visual aesthetics of this particular work is inspired by the Hamzanama painting in which Hamza is brought to prison.