RECENT


NOTICEBOARD

If words can survive, what use are prisons?
by Urvashi Butalia
Read Urvashi Butalia’s extraordinary interview based essay on Shilpa Gupta’s ‘Sun at Night’ at the Barbican.

15 Dec 2021

Aveek Sen (1965-2021): A Tribute

The sudden passing of Aveek Sen cuts short an exceptional and multifaceted practitioner in art, poetry and literature.Tributes from Prateek Raja, Hemali Bhuta,Shreyas Karle and friends of CONA.

15 Dec 2021

The biennale in Covid times
by Gayatri Sinha
Down scaled and modest, the Chennai Photo Biennale nevertheless delivers on its promise as the only photography biennale of this year.

15 Dec 2021

House of Wonders
by Shivani Kasumra
At Bikaner House, parallel shows Hostile Witnesses and 18 Dimensions: Sculptural Manifestations, pare down the turbulence of recent history with an uncanny, yet levitating sense of wonder.

15 Dec 2021

Revisitation: Pratibimba/ Reflection

Thirty five years after the staging of the photo exhibition Pratibimba at the Festival of India, USSR, Amal and Nissar Allana speak of the challenges of representing India’s photographic history.

15 Dec 2021

Remembering Anjum Singh (1967-2020)
by Ella Datta and Gayatri Sinha
With tributes by Ella Datta and Gayatri Sinha.

19 Nov 2020

Kapila Vatsyayan (1928-2020): A Personal Tribute
by Ashok Vajpeyi
Celebrated Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi writes on the illustrious work and life of Kapila Vatsyayan.

21 Sep 2020

Notes on Covid-19 | Part II
by Various
Indian gallerists reflect on exhibition-making and the potential of digital platforms in the times of a global lockdown.

18 May 2020


art history


CINEMA/OTT

In conversation with Kabir Khan

Kabir Khan speaks to CC about his film 83 and delves into recent trends in the consumption of cinema. (2022)

Women at Work: The (In)Visibility of Female Labour Onscreen
by Silpa Mukherjee
On the depiction of the female body- as performer, officer, a working class body or a "material object that is perpetually threatened with violence and rape." (2022)

The Offbeat Cinema
by Rattnotama Sengupta
An essay on offbeat cinema as a particular kind of cinema which is distinguished by "humanitarian values" and showcases concern for social issues. (1995)

The Pioneers of Indian Cinema
by Jag Mohan
The author looks at pioneering greats of Indian cinema, Sawe Dada, Dadasaheb Phalke and Ardeshir Irani, among others. (1995)

‘South Indian Aesthetics’ in Contemporary Bollywood Cinema
by Shreya Venkatraman
On the Netflix release Meenakshi Sundareshwar and the treatment of the ‘South Indian’ in Hindi cinema. (2021)

Masculinity and War Films in Bombay Cinema
by Nikhil Narkar
On the war film and its construction of “hard masculinity” as desirable and hegemonic. (2021)

Celluloid Histories and Futures: Art Cinema in India
by Ranu Roychoudhuri
A review of Rochona Majumdar’s new book which provides the first systematic study of art cinema as a category and movement of film in postcolonial India. (2021)

The Dream Merchants
by Nikhat Kazmi
On film makers of the 1990s and the fictions invoked in the making of celluloid imaginaries. (1995)


Lens Based Practices

Whispering a World of Subterfuges
by Ushmayo Dutta
A critical take on and suggestions of alternatives to existing photojournalistic images of Kashmir that fall into the binary trap of extreme beauty or violence.

Afterlives and Aftermaths: Images of Death and Countenance in the Covid-19 Pandemic
by Annalisa Mansukhani
Looking at a history of public images of suffering, violence and death, including those related to the ongoing pandemic, the writer highlights the contradiction in the evidentiary impulses and memorial instincts they represent.

Photographing the Dead: American Soldiers in Second World War Calcutta
by Reeti Basu
A close reading of the photographs of funerals and cremation sites taken by American servicemen in Calcutta reveal less sympathy and more a fascination with what they perceived as exotic rituals.

Refracting the Paradox of Visibility: Looking through Vidisha-Fadescha’s Lens
by Shaunak Mahbubani
Vidischa-Fadescha’s photo-performances highlight the fraught relations between visibility, access and agency that challenge the queer community in India. (2021)

Revisiting Feminist Archives through Ariella Azoulay’s ‘Citizenry of Photography’
by Mridu Rai
A re-viewing of Nepal Picture Library’s Out in the World archival series on women travellers to reclaim power for photography and its citizen-subjects. (2021)

The Handicraft Image on Social Media
by Anisha Baid
Maggie Smith Kühn’s Instagram wedding paintings provide insights into contemporary artists who engage with a new kind of Photorealism, bringing together painting, digital photography and collage. (2021)

The Face of Hyperreality
by Vaskar Mech
This essay looks at the phenomenon of online beauty filters for facial enhancement and photographic alterations, and the commodification of the human face by social media. (2021)

Raja Deen Dayal and Sons: Photographing Hyderabad’s Famine Relief Efforts
by Deborah Hutton
A study of photographs on famine relief efforts by the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, the essay explores the relationship between photography, modernity and statecraft in late nineteenth-century princely India. (2017)


CC ARCHIVES

The Intellectual Operation In Indian Art
by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
The author describes the process of contemplative visualization and worship, required from an Indian artist before creating the image of a deity.

Cosmetics and Coiffure in Ancient India
by Moti Chandra
The author offers an overview of the earliest use of cosmetics, adornments and hairstyles in ancient India by examining classical Sanskrit texts and archaeological artefacts.

Art Collectives in recent years
by Bhavya Sah and Gautami Raju
An overview of Art Collectives as alternative sites of creation and sanctuary for those on the margins.

A post pandemic art world

Roshini Vadehra, Ranjana Steinruecke and Aditya Mopidevi speak to Critical Collective about the driving compulsions of new art practices, and their response to NFTs.

Contemporary Durga Puja and Bengali ‘Civil Society’
by Shaon Basu
Looking at Durga Puja over the years, the author sheds light on the evolution of the festival pandals and their response to present day issues.

The Call of the East: the Calcutta School
by Leandre Vaillat
French writer and critic Leandre Vaillat on how the Tagore brothers “banished bad models of the west” but “kept in contact with French art”, creating a renaissance for Indian art. (1921)

Subho Tagore and the Calcutta Group
by Priyanka Tagore
On the Calcutta group and its co-founder, Subho Tagore's attempt to create an art thatwas "international and inter-dependent.” (2021)

Modern Art in India: A Point of View
by Nissim Ezekiel
Art critic Nissim Ezekiel gives an insight into the tendencies and cultural significance of works by Indian modern painters in the middle of the twentieth century. (1969)

MUSEUMS

'Renovations' at Jallianwala Bagh

Gurmeet Rai speaks to Gayatri Sinha about the changing attitude to monuments and memorials, Jallianwala Bagh and issues facing the revamping of Sabarmati ashram.

Objects and Their Journeys: In Pursuit of the Provenance of Things
by Jyotindra Jain
The author explores the rising debate around the restitution of cultural heritage, the ethics behind collecting practices in museums and the evolving definition of “provenance” in this context. (2021)

Interview with the curatorial team of the SCO Virtual Exhibition in National Museum, Delhi
by Critical Collective
On the pioneering virtual exhibition showcasing the shared Buddhist heritage of the SCO countries. (2021)

Jane Lombard Prize 2020-22 for Avni Sethi and The Conflictorium Museum
by Sandhya Bordewekar
The writer makes the case for spaces that open up histories of individual and collective trauma. (2020)

"We need to find new ways of engaging the public imagination"
by Critical Collective
Tasneem Mehta speaks to CC about museum and conservation practices in the face of a global lockdown. (2020)

Framing the Grand Historical Narrative of Indian Cinema
by Damini Kulkarni
The NMIC frames cinema less as an art form and more as a national legacy, writes Kulkarni. (2020)

A Tryst with History
by Arundhati Chauhan
A survey of cultural projects and initiatives announced in the last few months that suggest a move afoot to overhaul India’s museums sector. (2020)

The Supreme Court Museum
by Ketaki Varma
"The museum traces the history of jurisprudence alongside a history of India itself," writes Ketaki Varma. (2020)


Curators and Exhibitions

The Radical Potential of Friendship
by Deeksha Nath
A look at Splice, a new initiative by Delhi-based artist-curators Rohini Devasher and Pallavi Paul, that celebrates collaborative creative thinking and friendship amidst the challenges of a pandemic.

Stitching Memory: Review of Rehang at Bikaner House, New Delhi
by Meera Menezes
Rehang, curated by contemporary textile specialist, Uthra Rajgopal, brings together some thought provoking fibre arts and craft-based work by 15 South Asian artists.

Threading a fine line
by Meera Menezes
Meera Menezes examines the abstract art practices of Shobha Broota and Mekhala Bahl.

Reality/Chen, Simply Being/Tse-jan, Cosmic Spirit /Ch’i: Chinese Connection
by Virginia Whiles
Emerging from a severe lockdown in France Virginia Whiles visits an exhibition on Morandi at the Musee de Grenoble, and is moved by his precise, poetic economy of style.

Interview with Student Biennale curators Archana Hande and Vasudha Thozur
by Critical Collective
Curators of the Students’ Biennale speak to CC about working with student-artists and exploring the position of their own practice in the curatorial framework of framework of the exhibition. (2021)

Manisha Parekh: A River Inside (2020)
by Zeenat Nagree
Zeenat Nagree on Manisha Parekh's solo exhibition held at Jhaveri Contemporary earlier this year. (2020)

In Conversation with Raqs Media Collective
by Amrita Chakravarty
The curators of the latest edition of the Yokohama Triennale on thinking art and the exhibitionary through the lens of the spectrum. (2020)

Kochi Biennale in the Time of Covid-19
by Critical Collective
With the 5th edition slated to be held later this year, Rao and Krishnamachari on the challenges of curating in the midst of a pandemic. (2020)


artists

Wild Tales, Cosmic Waters
by Radhika Subramaniam
On Vibha Galhotra’s works on water, drawn from daily life and mythic tales.

Atul Bhalla: Contemporary Landscape and the Depths of the Historical Field
by Kathleen L Wyma
The author reads Atul Bhalla's landscapes, created between 2008 and 2014, as "layered, critical expressions that potentially dilate beyond the prescriptive limits of the present to tactically engage with the past."

And When She Roared The Universe Quaked
by Shilpa Phadke
On Shakuntala Kulkarni examining the “anger of the modern woman and the challenges it engenders” in her work.

The Art of Discovery
by Ashok Vajpeyi
On Manish Pushkale's envisioning of art as a "continuum of discovery" and the re-invention of reality in his practice. (2016)

Memory and Betrayal
by Rita Datta
On nostalgia and different connotations of “home” suggested in Rathin Barman’s solo show 'No... I Remember it Well'. (2015)

Ebstorf in Baroda: The Mappae Mundi of Gulammohammed Sheikh
by Alfred Hiatt
Alfred Hiatt on the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi and Gulam Sheikh's encyclopaedic world view, one that is redeemed by the poet and the artist.

In The Theatre of Memory: The Work of Contemporary Art in the Photographic Archive
by Raqs Media Collective
On Raqs Media Collective’s role as artists- subjecting photographs to an “imaginative trial” and moving from the archive to the theatre.

Room Without a Window: On Prajakta Potnis’ solo
by Zasha Colah
On Prajakta Potnis’s solo project for the India Art Fair, 2012, where “the room’s balanced stability in which nothing seems to happen”, becomes the site of drama, action and exploration. (2012)


Artists Groups and Collectives

Drifting Threads: Cholamandal Artists’ Village over fifty years
by Ashrafi S Bhagat
Ashrafi Bhagat traces the past, present and future of the Cholamandal Artists' Village in Chennai.

How to Feel a Leak?
by CAMP
CAMP elaborates on their work, THE RADIA TAP(E)S as part of The Ungovernables, New Museum, New York Triennial (2012).

CONA: Points of Reflection
by Hemali Bhuta
Hemali Bhuta on the founding of CONA as a pedagogical structure for artists.

New Group: In conversation with Amitava Das and Mona Rai at New Delhi, April 23, 2014

Amitava Das and Mona talk about the formation of the New Group in 1974.

The Calcutta Group - Its Aims and Achievements
by Prodosh Das Gupta
Prodosh Das Gupta highlights the premise of founding the Calcutta Group in 1940.

Indian Society of Oriental Art
by James H. Cousins


Artists Conversations

Breathing Life into Dust: Interview with Artist Amol K. Patil

A Prince Claus awardee, and selected for documenta 15 in 2022, Amol K Patil on the significance of ‘dust’, the politics of touch and making the invisible, visible through his practice.

“Loneliness of the Great”
by Ella Datta
Ella Datta speaks to A. Ramachandran on his latest suite of drawings on Gandhi.

The Afterlife of a Photograph: Devashish Gaur speaks to Critical Collective

Recipient of the Sharjah Art Foundation’s inaugural prize for Vantage Point Sharjah 9 (VPS9), Devashish Gaur on the “intergenerational exploration of identity” in his practice.

In Conversation with Jitish Kallat
by Critical Collective
I draw therefore I think with artists from 29 countries is launched by South South projects. Curator Jitish Kallat speaks to speaks to CC about Charles Darwin's 1837 Tree of Life sketch as an inspira

In conversation with Gipin Varghese
by Bhooma Padmanabhan
Exploring personal ways and means for "relooking at news and imagery of violence, death and struggle emerging from non-urban contexts within India" in Gipin Varghese's Lifetimes. (2014)

Places of solace and places of strife: In Conversation with Sarah Naqvi
by Critical Collective
Sarah Naqvi speaks of women in her family and women in Islam, and the constant churn in the effort that underlies her multi-faceted practice.

"Wet feet on a rock": Interview with Jyoti Bhatt
by Girinandini Singh
Jyoti Bhatt, Asia Society awardee 2021 on documenting the folkloric tradition of India, and the significance of the accessible archive in the digital age.

Home is a queer brown body: Interview with Sunil Gupta
by Gayatri Sinha
Sunil Gupta speaks to Gayatri Sinha on the occasion of a major retrospective at The Photographers Gallery.


ON GENDER

Haya Nari: A Charger of Damsels
by O.C. Gangoly
On the unique imagery of the Haya Nari, a composite figure of milk maidens twisted into the shape of a horse in Odiya Vaishnavism and the influence of tribal and folkaesthetic sensibilities in its composition.

The Role of Women Characters In the Sanskrit Drama
by D.D. Sharma
The essay discusses the presence of women characters in early Sanskrit plays and their actuality as actors on stage.

Women as Chattel in the Ramayana
by S. N. Vyas
The essay outlines the treatment of women as tangible objects that can be exchanged or gifted in the Ramayana, a notion embedded into the narrative of the grand epic and possibly a reflection of the time it was created. (1948)

Emotion, Identity, and the Female Subject: Tamil Women's Magazines in Colonial India, 1890-1940
by Mytheli Sreenivas
The article considers Tamil women's magazines printed between the 1890s and1940s as an instrument to examine the changing perceptions about middle-class women and their roles in colonial modernity. (2003)

The Role of the Courtesan in the Early History of Indian Painting
by P. K. Gode
Analysing verses from ancient Indian textual sources such as the Arthashastra and the Kamasutra, the author elaborates upon the proficiency achieved by courtesans in the art of painting or alekhya. (1941)

Conquering Land, Conquering Women: Exploring the Co-relation between War and Sexuality in the Early Medieval Indian Inscriptions
by Shatarupa Bhattacharya
The essay explores the thread correlating courtly culture, sexuality and war through epigraphic evidence. (2006)

Aesthetics, Nationalism, and the Image of Woman in Modern Indian Art
by Kedar Vishwanathan
On the "female" appropriation for the cause of imagining an Indian nation, through Raja Ravi Varma's Printing Press, Calcutta Art Studio, and Bengali neo-traditionalists. (2010)

A Man’s World: Gender, Family, and Architectural Patronage, in Medieval India
by Padma Kaimal
The essay investigates questions of agency and gender and looks at the architectural implications of women patrons on medieval South Indian temples. (2003)


AESTHETICS THEORY

Anandavardhana's Treatment of Aprastutaprasamsa
by P. K. Narayana Pillai
The essay discusses the degree of novelty in Anandavardhana’s theory of dhvani, and the rhetorician’s opinions regarding the contributions of his successors towards the theorization of dhvani. (1957)

A Critical Survey of the Ancient Indian Theatre Accordance with the Bharata Natyasastha and its Commentators
by Subba Rao
Construction of ancient Indian theatre, as propounded in Bharata's Natyashastra is interpreted in an objective manner by comparing the theoretical with the practical aspects. (1953)

An Outline of Indian Aesthetics
by Nagendra
On the various speculations pertaining to the nature of Beauty in the Indian context and the contribution of Indian poetics and philosophy in its formulation. (1934)

The Dynamism of the Indian Concept of Rasa
by K S Ramaswamy Shastri
On the concept and origin of Rasa in Indian aesthetics and the development of its elements. (1935)

Some Modern Critics and Ancient Texts on the Aesthetic Value of Hindu Images
by N.V. Mallavya
On the aesthetic and iconographical aspects of ancient Indian sculpture as outlined in the Agamas and Shastras. (1942)

Anandavardhana’s Treatment of Pratibha in Relation to Dhvani
by K. Krishnamoorthy
On the concept of Pratibha or creative imagination brought about by the agency of Dhvani. (1950)

Peculiarities in the Alamkara-Section of the Agni-Purana
by Suresh Mohan Bhattacharya
On the unique modes of treatment accorded to Alamkara and its constituent elements in the Agni Purana. (1960)

Studies in Dhvanyaloka, the Adivakya in Dhvanyaloka
by V.A. Ramaswami Sastri
On the importance of dhvani in communicating the essence of emotion inherent in poetry and drama. (1955)



CURATING SOUTH ASIA

Parvez's performative gestures:The subversion of the capitalist art economy
by Deeksha Nath
The author writes on performance and lens based artist Parvez’s seven month long project in Switzerland questioning the presumptions around audience interaction and the sites of art presentation.

Restless Creations: Adeela Suleman's Art for Social Change
by Virginia Whiles
Virginia Whiles speaks with sculptor Adeela Suleman on her use of found objects and dark humour in her work, as a way of exploring social and ecological violence, tragedy and censorship in Pakistan. (2021)

Positionings
by Salima Hashmi
With Bani Abidi's nomination for the Böttcherstraße prize, Salima Hashmi writes on a generation of Pakistani women artists' work "as a site for mutinous content and personal empowerment.” (2020)

TANTRA: Enlightenment to Revolution
by Virginia Whiles
The author reviews the ongoing exhibition at the British Museum through a ‘socially distanced’ critique, following online talks and exchanges with colleagues. (2020)

Contesting and coalescing voices from Dhaka Art Summit
by Mustafa Zaman
In its 5th edition, DAS invited the voices of different communities, giving them a chance to articulate in their own terms, the legacies of colonial/postcolonial modernity. (2020)

Lahore Biennale: ‘between the sun and the moon’
by Virginia Whiles
The second Lahore Biennale stages a polyphony of artistic voices weighing in on the shared cultural and political history of South Asia and the Middle East. (2020)

Bani Abidi: Funland

Curators Hoor Al Qasimi and Natasha Ginwala on a major survery of Bani Abidi's works exhibited at Sharjah Art Foundation. (2019)

Sharjah Diaries | In Conversation with Nidhi Mahajan
by Gayatri Sinha
The curator on her installation-performance "Silences and Spectres of the Indian Ocean." (2019)


CC Books

Looking through the Portal: Photographs, Lives, Histories
by Ranu Roychoudhuri
Review of Portal: The Curious Case of Achintya Bose (2020)

Art and Trousers by David Elliott
by Parul Dave Mukherji
On Elliott’s sweeping look on “how contemporary art unfolds in different parts of the world,” through the liet motif of trousers.

Solvyns in Bengal
by Critical Collective
Solvyns' views of late 18th century Bengal delight in a comprehensive book and exhibition by DAG.

Gandhi in the Gallery
by Gayatri Sinha
Ramaswamy tracks the idea of Gandhi as an ethical crucible, expanding far beyond his death, in the imagination of the Indian artist. (2021)

23 Grams of Salt: Retracing Gandhi’s March to Dandi by Anuj Ambalal
by Girinandini Singh
The author reviews Anuj Ambalal’s photo-book 23 Grams of Salt which re-visits the historic journey of the Dandi March today. (2021)

B.N. Goswamy’s The Great Mysore Bhagavata
by Sama Haq
The author comments on codicology and patronage in the Bhagavata manuscript from the royal atelier of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III of Mysore. (2020)

Aadi Anant: Creative Continuum and Unsung Masters by Sushma Bahl
by Sohini Singh
A ready-reckoner showcasing the myriad facets of the indigenous arts of India. (2020)

Interview with Indira Chandrasekhar
by Critical Collective
Indira Chandrasekhar on setting up Tulika Books, the relationship between contemporary art and publishing, and the future of books as a form. (2020)


CC REFERENCE

The future of India’s past
by Bhavya Sah and Gautami Raju
An overview of projects undertaken by the Indian Government to create and recreate cultural and material heritage that resonates with a narrative for a 'New India'.

On Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience
by Roobina Karode
Roobina Karode in conversation with art historian and curator Siva Kumar, artist Ravi Kumar Kashi and Sumathi Ramaswamy on Gandhi, his image and its legacy in contemporary art. (2021)

DOUBLE ACT
by Shivani Kasumra
Two parallel group shows by four galleries folds in the stirrings of our present, where art steers one beyond the foreclosures of finitude--of space, time, and imagination. (2021)

Cinema and the “Art” of Archiving
by Amrita Chakravarty
A look at contemporary art projects that draw on the archive of cinema as a source of alternative histories. (2021)

Abanindranath Tagore and the creation of a Regional Avant-Garde
by Partha Mitter
In Abanindranath Tagore's sesquicentennial year, Partha Mitter makes "a bold claim that he created a regional Asian expression of avant-garde art whose implications are still unfolding”. (2021)

A Fragile Inheritance: Radical Stakes in Contemporary Indian Art
by Saloni Mathur
On culture and politics of decolonization and the role of non-Western aesthetic avant-gardes within the discourses of contemporary art. (2020)

Why Statues Matter: The Changing Landscape of Calcutta’s Colonial and Postcolonial Statuary
by Tapati Guha-Thakurta
On the shifting casts and sites of Kolkata’s public statues. (2020)

A Critique of Ananda Coomaraswamy’s Presuppositions for a Philosophy of Indian Art
by Ratan Parimoo
On Coomaraswamy’s work on art and aesthetics in light of Indian philosophy. (2020)