After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997 presents a comparative study of art created in the wake of two defining moments in Indian history. The first, Indian independence in 1947 was notable for the emergence of the Progressives Artists Group. The second was 1997, which marked 50 years of India’s independence, a period that coincided with economic liberalization, political instability, the growth of a religious right wing, as well as a newly globalizing art market and international biennial circuit, in which Indian artists had begun to participate. The year 1997 also prompted a host of several important international exhibitions of Indian art around the world including the first Indian exhibitions in the United States: Out of India, at the Queens Museum and Traditions/Tensions at The Asia Society 1996-1997. Telling Tales: 5 Women artists from India, held at the Victoria Gallery, Bath, UK was followed by Private Mythology: Contemporary Art from India, curated by The Japan Foundation in Tokyo, 1998.
After Midnight will be the first exhibition large-scale examination of Indian art in the United States prominently featuring the Modern masters, core members of the Progressives including M.F. Husain, S. H. Raza, F.N. Souza, and their extended circle of friends such as Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, V.S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee.
The contemporary section of the show brings to the fore pertinent issues that have taken place from 1997 to the present. These include a critique of globalization-at-large, affected by the changing economy that forever altered the nation. Not only did this prompt economic growth in India that created opportunities for growth and progress, but at the same time it brought several setbacks such as the exploitation of labor and rural migration to name a few.
After Midnight, while a large-scale survey show itself, adopts a critical position against blockbuster exhibitions of Indian art that have undertaken tokenist representation of India, or have attempted to illustrate the nation through its art. Instead of capitulating to the market forces and the need of the West to “present” and “frame” Indian cultural practices, the intent of the exhibition is to dismantle the stereotypical nationalist presentations of India. The exhibition attempts to produce and present art practices, dialogues, and questions emerging from an Indian context to be embraced within the larger global framework of modernity. After Midnight resists being mapped or firmly placed with the boundaries of the nation. Instead, it looks to draw on a new critical body of knowledge that has arisen from a new globalism, in which everything seems to be in the process of being redefined, including individual freedom and rights and the idea of India itself. Most importantly the exhibition disbands positions that are no longer useful, to allow for an expanded, inclusive dialogue of art and culture to emerge. The exhibition includes work in a variety of media and consists of both existing works and new commissions.
After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India is curated by Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala, who currently lives and works in Mumbai.
Precursors to this exhibition include a two-day symposium (Fall 2012) and a forthcoming publication After Midnight: Indian Modern and Contemporary Art, 1947/1997. Contributors include: Rakhee Balaram, Rina Banerjee, Akeel Bilgrami, Rebecca Brown, Luis Camnitzer, Doryun Chong, Iftikhar Dadi, Salah M. Hassan, Geeta Kapur, Arshiya Lokhandwala, Saloni Mathur, Naeem Mohaiemen, Parul Dave-Mukherji, Vidya Shivadas, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Ajay J. Sinha
Image: Dayanita Singh, Image from File Room, 2013
After Midnight is supported in part by UBS and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.