It was a blustery day in New York City when I slipped inside the Fuller Building to visit the Delhi Art Gallery. The DAG in Mumbai is one of my favourite spaces in the city, especially because it happens to be one of the only avenues that displays modern and contemporary Indian art. During fall break, I discovered that the gallery also has a space in New York, which I was incredibly excited to visit.
The DAG was established in 1993, and its collection “represents the expanse of Indian art practice of the 20th century.” The gallery also places particular emphasis on Western influences on contemporary Indian art, a niche that I have grown deeply interested in. I most value the space for its commitment to taking “Indian modernism to new audiences and present significant, historical world class exhibitions.”
The exhibition on view at the time of my visit was French Connection: Indian Artists in France, a “historic exhibition based on the association twenty-seven Indian artists had with art institutions, museums, and art movements in Paris.” The exhibition showcases France as “a cradle of modernism” and seeks to understand how Indian artists responded and were influenced by the European art world both technically and ideologically in the development of their repertoires.
Of the works on display, I was particularly taken with Nasreen Mohamedi’s Untitled, an incredibly delicate ink on paper geometry of intersecting lines exploring notions of depth and spatiality. Having studied her influences, Constructivism and Suprematism, in my art history classes at college I valued her ambitions of systematization and distillation even more.
Other works that I loved included those by both Vishwanath Nageshkar:
and Laxman Pai:
especially in the ways they explored the 20th century, modern corporeal Indian, and the shifting landscape of Indian urbanism.
Most of all, I valued seeing how these artists navigated foreignness — taking and learning from a new environment — without losing sight of home, both visually and ideologically. There is much to be learnt from this traversion, especially as I continue to attempt to do the same, even beyond the realm of the visual arts.