Video

Hybrid Ontology of Early Mughal Paintings

21st November 2019
Watch this video lecture by Dr Valerie Gonzalez to learn about the diverse creative forces that led to the formation of a unique Mughal pictorial language.

The Mughal dynasty is renowned for its great architecture and patronage of the arts. Perhaps more than any other Islamic dynasty, the Mughals made their passion for the arts and its aesthetic principles, a central part of their identity. Typically using the form of miniatures, Mughal paintings drew on a multitude of themes, from, legendary stories, wildlife, royal life, hunting scenes, battlefields, mythology to much more.

Using her book Aesthetic Hybridity in Mughal Painting 1526-1658 as the basis for her presentation, Dr Valerie Gonzalez, from the University College London, School of Oriental and African Studies, examines the visuality, metaphysical order and aesthetic language of Mughal imagery and portraiture – shedding new light on this particular aspect of its aesthetic hybridity, which is usually approached as a historical phenomenon of cross-cultural interaction. She advises her readers that  

"[The book] is not a typical art historical study of Mughal paintings, of which there is a plethora of publications. It is a hermeneutic philosophical study of this material. Indeed, the historiography on Mughal and other paintings in Islam is mostly composed of histories and archaeologies, but no hermeneutic philosophical studies. Histories and archaeologies evidence and describe art, analyse its context of production, and define its spiritual significances. But histories and archelogies do not elucidate art as both an object of thought and a material complexity meant to induce a certain type of aesthetic noetic experience. Aesthetic is an experience through the senses and noetic is an experience through the intellect. This is the task of the hermeneutic philosophical enquiry.”