German artist’s take on Hortus Malabaricus

Hendrik van Rheede, the Dutch Malabar Governor between 1678 and 1693, must have been in residence at what is now the David Hall, when ‘Hortus Malabaricus,’ the treatise on the medicinal properties of the flora of Malabar was conceived, compiled and later published from Amsterdam.

On Saturday, German artist Wilhelm Bronner released sketches of his contemporary interpretation of the treatise. In his own words, “in harmony with the timelessness of the healing power of the garden of Malabar,” these works are on display at David Hall.

They are a series of 120 drawings, with 12 rows representing the 12 volumes of the book. They are a modern interpretation of the book that I fell in love with when I first saw it. I photographed it and carried it back home with me.

The mastery of the work made me look at a new interpretation. That’s how this work was born at the same place where van Rheede must have conceived his great work,” he says, pointing to the different rows.

It took Wilhelm three months to work on the project. He completed it in Germany and brought the finished product here. At the entrance to the hall, he has placed a series of paintings where he interprets the treatise cover, which has a woman gardener with her helpers.

This is Wilhelm’s fourth visit to Kochi, the first was 35 years ago when he was just 23.

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