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SAP Seminar Series -- Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity and Modernism in India, 1930-1990 by Sonal Khullar

sap, einaudi, sonal khullar

Monday, April 11 at 12:15 p.m., G-08 Uris Hall.

South Asia Program (SAP) guest Sonal Khullar will discuss her newly published book, Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity and Modernism in India, 1930-1990, in the context of new global histories of modernism and recent exhibitions of contemporary art from India. Drawing on Edward Said’s notion of affiliation as a critical and cultural imperative against empire and nation-state, this book traces the emergence of a national art world in twentieth-century India and emphasizes its cosmopolitan ambitions and orientations. It focuses on four major Indian artists –Amrita Sher-Gil, Maqbool Fida Husain, K. G. Subramanyan, and Bhupen Khakhar—whose careers reveal a distinctive trajectory of modernism in the visual arts in India that is foundational to the representational practices of the present. Khullar analyzes the shifting terms of Indian artists’ engagement with the West –an urgent yet fraught project in the wake of British colonialism—and to a lesser extent with African and Latin American cultural movements like Négritude and Mexican muralism. Such cross-cultural negotiations were by no means exclusive to the artists of this study, but were the structural conditions for modernism in twentieth-century India.