Writing the Indian Modern

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Panel discussion on writing about modern Indian art

Tyeb Mehta. Mahisasura, 1997. Acrylic on canvas. H. 59 x W. 48 in. (149.9 x 121.9 cm). Rajiv and Payal Chaudhri Collection. Image courtesy of the lender.

Tyeb Mehta. Mahisasura, 1997. Acrylic on canvas. H. 59 x W. 48 in. (149.9 x 121.9 cm). Rajiv and Payal Chaudhri Collection. Image courtesy of the lender.

What is “modern” about modern Indian art? What part did tradition play in the construction of a progressive art for a new India? This panel brings together a group of eminent art critics, curators and art historians including Yashodhara Dalmia, Gayatri Sinha and the exhibition’s Guest Curator Zehra Jumabhoy, who have interpreted and explored the notion of an Indian modernism in the context of wider international dialogues in art and politics over the years.

Moderated by Abhay Sardesai, editor of ART India magazine.

Co-organized with ART India, Mumbai.


Yashodhara Dalmia is an art historian and an independent curator based in New Delhi. Her book Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life (2006), a comprehensive account of the life of one of India’s first modern artists, received widespread international acclaim. Her book The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives (2001) is regarded as the definitive account of a seminal phase of Indian art history. When the National Gallery of Modern Art opened in Mumbai in December 1996, Dalmia was the curator of the inaugural exhibition, “The Moderns,” which featured paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings by twelve greats of modern Indian art.   


Gayatri Sinha  is an art critic and curator whose areas of interest are gender studies, iconography, media, economics, and social history. She has curated exhibitions in India, Europe, and the United States. Sinha is the founder and director of Critical Collective, an initiative to build knowledge in the visual arts in India. Sinha’s publications include Voices of Change: 20 Indian Artists (2010), Art and Visual Culture in India 1857–2007 (2009), and Indian Art: An Overview (2003). She has lectured widely on Indian art, including at the Tate Modern, London; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 


Zehra Jumabhoy (Guest Curator) is a UK-based writer, speaker, and art historian specializing in modern and contemporary South Asian art. She was the Steven and Elena Heinz Scholar at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where she completed her doctorate and is currently an Associate Lecturer. She co-organizes Contemporaneity in South Asian Art, a seminar series at the Courtauld’s Research Forum. She has been editor of the Visual Art section for Time Out Mumbai and assistant editor at the journal ART India. Her book, The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today, was published by Random House, London, in 2010.  


Abhay Sardesai has been the Editor of ART India, the premier art magazine of India, since November 2002. Under his editorship, the magazine has developed a Culture Studies-oriented approach and has become more inter-disciplinary in its theme-based explorations.  


Part of the Season of India, a series of programs held in conjunction with the exhibition, The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, on view at Asia Society Museum from September 14, 2018 to January 20, 2019. 

Event Details

Fri 14 Sep 2018
4 - 5:30 p.m.

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

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Free admission; registration required, includes museum admission
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