A Conjurer’s Archive & Art Historical Divides

A Conjurer’s Archive & Art Historical Divides

MUMBAI, March 7, 2019: Asia Society India Centre hosted A Conjurer’s Archive & Art Historical Divides at the CSMVS Museum, Mumbai with Dr. Jyotindra Jain, the celebrated former director of the Crafts Museum, Delhi and curator of the seminal exhibition Other Masters: Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India (1989), and Dr. Annapurna Garimella, designer, art historian and curator of the landmark exhibition Vernacular, in the Contemporary 1 & 2 (2010-11).

Dr. Jain began the programme with a presentation of research from his new publication ‘Jangarh Singh Shyam: A Conjuror’s Archive’, published by the Museum of Art & Photography, Bangalore. Sharing pertinent anecdotes from the book, he discussed the significant role J. Swaminathan and the multi-arts complex Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal, played in the recognition of vernacular painters from the Gond and Bhil tribes. Although Bharat Bhavan provided unparalleled exposure to artists like Jangarh Singh Shyam, they faced resistance from the Indian art establishment. Dr. Jain noted that many well-known modernist artists refused Swaminathan’s proposal to display their work alongside vernacular artists, which led to the creation of two separate wings at the Bharat Bhavan Roopankar Museum – a tribal art gallery and a modern art gallery.

In the conversation that followed, Dr. Garimella spoke about the divide between modern and contemporary versus folk and tribal art, addressing a variety of perspectives including the art market, institutional collecting and visual experimentation. Dr. Garimella reacted to Dr. Jain’s notes on the aesthetic qualities and technical ingenuity of Shyam’s practice, highlighting interesting intersections between modernity and Indian folk traditions. She also pertinently highlighted the current demand for vernacular art, as she experienced when curating the Devi Art Foundation’s two part exhibition ‘Vernacular, in the Contemporary’ which attempted to shift the art historical and institutional terms for understanding and theorising this cluster of visual art. 

Watch the complete programme here: https://asiasociety.org/video/conjurers-archive-and-art-historical-divi…

As reported by Alekha Ranjitsinh, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre.

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