Karin Zitzewitz’s 'The Art of Secularism: The Cultural Politics of Modernist Art in Contemporary India' addresses the entanglement of visual art with political secularism. The crisis in secularism in India is commonly associated with the rise of Hindu nationalism in the 1980s. A variety of commentators have noted how the Hindu nationalist movement made innovative political use of iconic images associated with Hindu mythology, challenging the relationships between modernism, national culture, secularism and modernity that had been built since India’s independence in 1947.The Art of Secularism describes how that political shift radically transformed the terrain of modernist art, which had often drawn upon religious iconography as a largely secular form of national culture.
In this talk, Zitzewitz examines how three renowned modernists, M. F. Husain, K. G. Subramanyan, and Bhupen Khakhar, grappled imaginatively and very differently with the re-enchantment of signs. Her research attests to the depth and range of modernist experimentation with secularity in India, but also the unequal freedom that artists have to use religious iconography in their work.
Admission free and open to all.