An extensive exhibitions programme includes a strong focus on contemporary art. A series of curated exhibitions titled 'Engaging Traditions', invites artists to respond to the Museum’s collection, history and archives. These exhibitions are presented in the Kamalnayan Bajaj Special Exhibitions Gallery (KBG) in the main Museum building and may involve interventions into the vitrines holding the permanent collections. The Museum also hosts exhibitions in collaboration with galleries and other institutions in the Special Project Space (SPS) in the Museum Plaza. The Museum has successfully partnered with international museums and institutions to showcase contemporary artists and exhibitions which relate to the Museum’s permanent collection.
A series of curated exhibitions titled 'Engaging Traditions', invites artists to respond to the Museum’s collection, history and archives, addressing issues that speak directly to the traditions and issues that underlie the founding of the Museum, yet evoke the present by challenging orthodoxies and questioning assumptions. Several distinguished contemporary artists including Jitish Kallat, Sudarshan Shetty, L.N. Tallur and Ranjini Shettar have participated in this programme.
Through collaborations with international institutes, the Museum has hosted several exhibitions. Contemporary Photography and the Olympic Posters were presented from the V & A Museum, London. German artist Eberhard Havekost's works were presented in collaboration with the Dresden State Art Collections and the exhibition Social Fabric was showcased with INIVA (Institute of International Visual Arts) London, and the Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai. The Museum collaborated with the Guggenheim Museum, New York, to present the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Mumbai,and the Ermenegildo Zegna group on the project ZegnArt Public in 2013. Most recently, the Museum hosted an acclaimed masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s (Italian, 1378-1455) The Gates of Paradise (1425-52), through a special collaboration with the Guild of the Dome Association, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institute, and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Folk Archive, a vibrant, visual account of contemporary popular British culture was held in collaboration with the British Council.
In collaboration with Delhi Art Gallery
Nine artists find special mention in India as ‘art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value’, a directive by the Archaeological Survey of India in the 1970s. Spanning a period of one hundred years of art practice, these artists represent a diversity of art traditions and movements but unified by one common thread: a return to Indian roots through context, theme, subject and an engagement with identity.
India’s art tradition had been rendered subservient to a Western-oriented approach as taught in the art schools from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Artists adopted it to contextualise, first, her own history and mythology, and then localise it in a vernacular that found recognition and empathy among its Indian viewers. It addressed and paralleled, to an extent, the freedom movement, and images were co-opted by freedom fighters in an attempt to create visual icons that unified them under a pan-national banner.
While the precursors of the nationalist movement created recognisable imagery based on the past, their most important distinction was to celebrate India’s rural resilience and countryside. The subaltern came to occupy a significant part of their work, and resulting images came to be associated with the freedom movement as well as India’s civilisational position and aspiration at the start of the twentieth century. This historic exhibition traverses the distinctive works undertaken by these nine artists, the common strands that bind them as well as the differences that set them apart from each other.
Curated by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta & Puja Vaish
Participating Artists: Anita Dube, Anju Dodiya, Archana Hande, Desmond Lazaro, Lavanya Mani, Manish Nai, Manisha Parekh, Monali Meher, Nilima Sheikh, Paula Sengupta, Priya Ravish Mehra, Pushpamala N, Rakhi Peswani, Reena Saini Kallat, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Sharmila Samant, Shezad Dawood