After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India, 1947/1997

After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India, 1947/1997

Queens Museum

Atul Dodiya, Three Brothers, 2012–13. Three wooden cabinets (treated with polyester putty and zinc powder) glass, enamel paint, framed photographs (archival digital print on Hahnemuehle bamboo paper), cloth, iron hanger and iron crutches; from left to right: 78 x 42 x 18 inches / 72 x 36 x 18 inches / 66 x 36 x 18 inches.

March 20, 2015

After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India, 1947/1997
March 8–June 28, 2015

Queens Museum
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368

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The era following India’s 1947 independence was marked by the emergence of Indian modern art led by the Progressive Artists’ Group and their contemporaries.  A half-century later, the year 1997 signaled the beginning of a new phase with Indian artists gaining sudden visibility in a newly globalized contemporary art world, while India experienced a surge of paradigm shifts including economic liberalization, political instability, and the growth of a religious right wing. Featuring 97 pieces by 26 artists, After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India, 1947/1997 presents the juxtaposition of these two historical periods in Indian art for the first time, examining Indian modern art from 1947 through the 1970s, and contemporary art from 1997 to the present.

Curated by Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala, featured artists include CAMP, Nikhil Chopra, Desire Machine Collective, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, V.S. Gaitonde, Sheela Gowda, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, M.F. Husain, Tushar Joag, Jitish Kallat, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, Prajakta Potnis, Sreshta Rit Premnath, Raqs Media Collective, S.H. Raza, Sharmila Samant, Mithu Sen, Dayanita Singh, F.N. Souza, Tallur L.N., Asim Waqif.

Taking its title from the phrase “Midnight’s Children,” coined by Salman Rushdie in his 1981 novel about India’s transition to independence, the exhibition weaves themes of art and nation-building to reveal shifting zeitgeists in cultural production, and explores how these artistic practices regard and contest a geopolitical consciousness through modernization and globalization.  

After Midnight seeks to locate the avant-garde within the two historical timelines of Indian art that have never been in conversation,” said exhibition curator Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala. “The exhibition also highlights a connection between Indian art and New York City, particularly during the 1960s, a moment when the Progressives witnessed Western practices that took place during that period.  After Midnight also adopts a critical reflection on the nation’s past in conversation with the challenges it faces today.”

After Midnight presents works by the core members of the Progressives—M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, and F.N. Souza—and their peers Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, V.S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee. The exhibition illuminates the journey of these eight artists, examining their work from the 1950s through the 1970s, tracing their influences and engagement with internationalism.  

“This is the fourth exhibition of Indian art the Queens Museum has mounted in the past 20 years, yet it provides a fresh look at two key periods in that nation’s cultural production,” said Queens Museum Executive Director Laura Raicovich. “The works on view, including many making their New York debuts, represent some of the finest work created in India over the past seven decades.”

Critically reflective of the changes witnessed after the economic liberalization and waves of globalization, the 18 artists and collectives chosen for the contemporary section of After Midnight distinguish the exhibition not as a sweeping survey, but instead as an exploration of the particular avant-garde impetus within the two historical periods of Indian art. It seeks to engage with art practices that carry dialogues and questions emerging from an Indian context to be located within the larger global framework. 

After Midnight is the fourth exhibition of South Asian art mounted by the Queens Museum since 1997 following Out of India: Contemporary Art of the South Asian Diaspora, 1997; Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India, 2005, in collaboration with the Asia Society; and Fatal Love: South Asian American Art Now, 2005.

Funding and sponsorship
The exhibition is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, UBS, Official Airline Sponsor Etihad and Jet Airways, Sotheby’s, Star Worldwide Group, India, Hauser & Wirth, and Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai. Additional funding is provided by Mrs. Marguerite and Mr. Kent Srikanth Charugundla, Mr. and Mrs. Rajiv J. Chaudhri, Ms. Radhika Chopra and Mr. Rajan Anandan, and Mrs. Mahinder and Mr. Sharad Tak. Support for this exhibition is also provided by 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. Special thanks to the Office of the Consulate General of India, New York and Malini Shah.

The Queens Museum is a local international art space in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with contemporary art, events and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City. The Museum presents the work of emerging and established artists, changing exhibitions that speak to contemporary urban issues, and projects that focus on the rich history of its site. In November 2013, the Museum opened its new space, a 105,000-square-foot venue with a soaring sky lit atrium, suite of day-lit galleries, nine artist studios and flexible event space. The museum seeks to exact positive change in surrounding communities through engagement initiatives ranging from the multilingual outreach and educational opportunities for adult immigrants, to the residency program, Corona Studio, which embeds artists in the local community. The museum also conducts educational outreach tailored toward schoolchildren, teens, families, seniors as well as those individuals with physical and mental disabilities. 



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March 20, 2015

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