The Naked and the Nude

Gallery Exhibition

The Naked and the Nude

The Body in Indian Modern Art

New York: The Fuller Building, 7 December 2015 –
27 February 2016

Mumbai: Kala Ghoda, 10 October – 10 December 2016

New Delhi: Hauz Khas Village, 15 January – 15 March 2013

The nude. Just the term sends a frisson of excitement down the spine in most people. For the few of us who are part of the art fraternity, however, more than just the anticipation of being able to view the human body as an artistic work in its many forms and avatars, its beauty and its degradation both, is the true mark of an artist’s genius. And yet, the history of the nude in Indian art has remained curiously unmapped.

With approximately one hundred works, The Naked & the Nude brings together an exciting range of styles and artistic explorations from a diverse group of thirty-seven Indian modernists, and showcases the wide presence of the bare body in Indian modern art, drawing in the discourses connoted by the terms ‘naked’ and ‘nude’. The artists range from those known for their exploration of sexual themes and the body, such as F. N. Souza, K. Laxma Goud, P. T. Reddy, Avinash Chandra, Laxman Pai, or M. F. Husain to others known for a different oeuvre and who surprise with their engagement with the bare body–such as K. K. Hebbar or the landscape artist Gopal Ghose.

The range of expressions reflect the various rasas or moods of traditional Indian thought—from the joyful, sorrowing, reflective and exultant to the repellent—proving the extraordinary draw the human body has always been to the visual artist. The works are presented within several categories: the academic study, the sensual and the erotic, the body in narrative, anguish and fantasy, and the abstracted and ritual body.

The exhibition 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 Mazumadar 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.

On view are sensitive and nuanced explorations of the muscular, preening body as the desirous and desirable body; as equally, the wasted, aged body that repels; the body as sexual as well as the body as contemplative, the ascetic body, the body in fantasy, feminist articulations and the suffering, tormented body that is the site of violence as seen, for instance, in the works of Jogen Chowdhury, Bikash Bhattacharjee or Rabin Mondal.

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 accompanies the exhibition.

exhibition highlights

The Times of India

1 February, 2013

The Asian Age

5 February, 2013

The Pioneer

7 February, 2013

Express Newsline

7 February, 2013

Hindustan Times

7 February, 2013

The Economic Times

7 February, 2013

The Times of India

8 February, 2013

The Hindu

26 February, 2013

First City

March, 2013


1 - 14 March, 2013

Hindustan Times

21 October, 2016

installation views