The Naked & The Nude: The Body In Indian Modern Art MUMBAI | Oct 7, 2016 - Dec 10, 2016
NEW YORK | Dec 8, 2015 - Feb 27, 2016
DELHI | Feb 2, 2013 - Mar 23, 2013

Renaissance ushered in an uninhibited, though idealised, depiction of the body in Western art while traditional Indian art has celebrated the body as an object of beauty from ancient times, seen in the fresco paintings at sites such as Ajanta and the images of sensuality and erotica seen on numerous temple walls across the country, from Khajuraho to Konark.
Bringing together an exciting range of styles and artistic explorations from a diverse group of over fifty Indian modernists, the exhibition showcases two hundred and fifty artworks. The artists range from those known for their exploration of sexual themes and the body, such as F. N. Souza, Laxma Goud, P. T. Reddy, Avinash Chandra, Laxman Pai, M. F. Husain or Ranbir Kaleka to a host of a very wide range of artists known otherwise for a different oeuvre that surprise with their engagement with the bare body – names such as K. K. Hebbar or the landscape artist Gopal Ghose.
The exhibition showcases the wide, if not always highlighted, presence of the bare body in Indian modern art, drawing in the discourses connoted by the terms ‘naked’ and ‘nude’. It brings together expressions from the classical – such as Radha Charan Bagchi’s response to Manet and Titian’s Olympia and Venus respectively; the lasciviously presented women popularised by Indian calendar art to which contributed turn-of-the-twentieth-century academic style artists such as Hemendranath Majumadar in pin-up images; those by the Bengal School artists within the mythological space or nude studies of the elegant, graceful body made as part of art school training – to an exhilarating range of works that draw on sources as diverse as erotic temple sculptures, tantra art, folk art and popular culture.
The range of expressions seem to reflect the various rasas or mood of traditional Indian thought – from the joyful, sorrowing, reflective and exultant to the repellant – proving the extraordinary draw the human body has always been to the visual artist. The works are presented within the categories of the academic study, the sensual and the erotic, the body in narrative, in anguish and of fantasy, and the abstracted and ritual body – to understand the wide range of how the naked body has been seen and rendered in art.
A substantial, illustrated volume featuring colour plates, profiles of the featured artists and essays charting the eventful journey of the body’s presence in Indian art, from the sensual and erotic sculptures of temple art to the wide range of response to the body in modern art, accompanies the exhibition.