COLUMBUS, Ohio — When it comes to exhibition-making, the Pizzuti Collection works entirely from the contemporary holdings of Ron and Ann Pizzuti, who are as avid in their championing of Columbus as they are in their appetite for diverse acquisitions, largely by living artists, the world over. Looking at the cross section of artists, media, and themes represented within the Pizzuti Collection (as showcased, for example, in the 2016 exhibition, Us Is Them), one could hardly consider this to be a limited pool from which to draw inspiration.
Certainly, at first pass, the Pizzuti’s newest exhibition, Visions from India, is a visual menagerie, offering no end of rich detail and kinetic spectacle. Curator Greer Pagano, who worked closely with the Pizzutis over multiple years to construct this exhibition, is quick to emphasize that Visions from India is in no way intended to stand as a comprehensive survey of Indian art — if, indeed, it were even possible to in any way summarize the collective consciousness of a country with a population exceeding 1.2 billion. As always, the Pizzuti Collection is working through the narrow lens of their eponymous collectors’ preferences — collectors who, it must be noted, have a confident and personal approach to art collecting, one that reflects a genuine interest in art and artists more than the market forces that may affect the extrinsic value of the works.
But the very nature of singular vision creates the opportunity for a blind spot. In the case of Visions from India, it took me some time to identify a thread of emotional dissonance arising in response to the tableaux, grouped in galleries on all three floors of the building. This dissonance was initially easy to dismiss, because I am a materialist, and Visions from India is rife with glorious and incredibly textured materials. Visitors are initially and irresistibly drawn from the entry hall into the largest first-floor gallery, which is dominated by a dynamic landscape assembled entirely of metal tiffin boxes — the traditional lunchbox of India — moving along a sushi bar conveyor belt repurposed into a snaking pathway across the top of an industrial steel table. “Untitled (Sushi conveyor belt)” (2008) by Subodh Gupta is the piece for which this gallery was expressly designed when the Pizzuti Collection built out the facility in 2011, and it has only now come to be displayed there. The effect of the piece is both hypnotic and quickly vertigo-inducing, with the moving tiffin towers managing to suggest a quiet, deeply aesthetic cityscape. It’s fun to watch, even as you start to feel your stomach turn. (Perhaps plan your visit before lunch.)