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Indian Artists for 58th Venice Biennale Announced

In Nation
March 20, 2019

Works of seven modern and contemporary artists, including Nandalal Bose and Atul Dodiya, will figure at the Indian pavilion in its second-ever participation in the prestigious Venice Biennale which begins in May.

The Indian artist lineup at the 58th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) also includes Ashim Purkayastha, G.R. Iranna, Jitish Kallat, Rummana Hussain and Shakuntala Kulkarni, pavilion curator, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), said in a statement.

The pavilion titled ‘Our Time for a Future Caring’ is themed around Mahatma Gandhi. It will form part of India’s ongoing programme celebrating his 150th birth anniversary. The pavilion will “critically engage with the many facets of Mahatma Gandhi, considering his philosophical ideas and their place in today’s complex world, in which violence and intolerance are still prevalent”, the KNMA statement said.

The exhibition will begin with the “Haripura Panels” by Bose (1882-1966), an Indian ‘National Treasure artist’ whose works will be shown in Europe for the first time. Kallat’s poignant video installation, “Covering Letter” will also be on its first Europe display, featuring a letter from Gandhi to Hitler, projected onto fog.

The work of Purkayastha and Dodiya engages with specific moments in Gandhi’s history as well, with the latter even referring to Gandhi “as an artist of non-violence”. Works by Iranna, Hussain and Kulkarni also relate to Gandhian themes of non-violence, truth and tolerance.

“These seven significant artists come from across India. Their work reflects strikingly different responses to the figure and philosophies of Gandhi. The India Pavilion will present a discursive, timely exhibition, which explores Gandhi’s enduring presence and considers history, memory and identity,” art patron Kiran Nadar said in the statement.

The Pavilion will feature work in a range of artistic mediums including painting, sculpture, mixed media video installations and photography. 2019 will be the second India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The first India Pavilion took place in 2011.

In a public-private partnership, the 2019 Pavilion is co-organised by Culture Ministry and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), with the National Gallery of Modern Art’s Director General as the Commissioner of the project. The curation is being spearheaded by KNMA Director and Chief Curator Roobina Karode, who is also an International Asian Art Council Member.

The Biennale will run from May 11 to November 24.