In 2005, for the first time in the history of the prestigious Venice Biennale, India had its own pavilion. In the years since then, the profile and market value of contemporary Indian art has significantly increased. Indeed many international collectors first stood up and noticed the lucrative potential of contemporary Indian art when Christie’s (New York) placed Tyeb Mehta’s “Mahisasura” on the auction block in 2006, where it fetched US$1.58 million far surpassing the list value of US$600,000. India’s participation in international exhibitions and art fairs such as Art Basel and the recent arrival of its own homegrown art extravaganza, the Kochi Muziris Biennale, have fueled further interest. Although these events mark a recent change in international reception, contemporary art is not new to the subcontinent and it has a unique history that parallels the passage from colonialism to the present. With an eye on historical development and the importance of cultural context, this talk is designed as an introduction to the contemporary art of India.
Dr. Kathleen Wyma is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at The University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on post-1945 Indian art, with a special interest in issues of post-colonialism and the impact of intercultural exchange in an increasing globalized art world. She has published numerous articles, and exhibition catalogues, as well as curated a number of contemporary art exhibitions in India. Her forthcoming article, “Counter Praxis: The Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association” focuses upon a Kerala-based artistic collective who, through a series of exhibitions and interventions, raised questions about the theoretical and political assumptions of Indian contemporary art as it developed throughout the 1980s.