Art News & Views

Modern Folk


Group Show

29 April to 22 May
Aicon Gallery, New York

This exhibition showcases the works of the Indian artists who throughout the 20th century have warned against taking Western Modernism as a privileged yardstick. The participating artists are Sakti Burman, Laxma Goud, Nalini Malani, Jamini Roy, Ravinder Reddy, Nilima Sheikh, KG Subramanyan, J Swaminathan, and T Vaikuntam. All these artists articulated a very peculiar art historical twist; for as recent academic debates in the West have observed, Western modernist avant-gardes themselves, from Cubists to Surrealists, owed a large debt to non-Western folk and tribal art through the process of 'borrowing' now termed 'Primitivism'. In a sense, modernists both in the West and in India were turning to the same sources but from different registers. From this point of view it seems perverse for artists working in India through the 20th century to privilege Western modernism when the visual and cultural phenomena that the Western avant-garde drew on were alive and well in the ongoing folk and tribal traditions of India.









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