Behold the beholder

Nude Lady with Flower Vase with K. H. Ara

The latest exhibition, ‘Ways of Seeing’ explores the concept of gaze and how, both male and female, create and experience art

A historic exhibition that focuses on one of the most contested spaces in Indian art – the gaze is here. The much-anticipated exhibition, ‘Ways of Seeing’ features over 150 works by female and male artists paralleling the modern art movement in India.

Bringing back into focus concepts such as scopophilia or the pleasure of looking at something or someone with reference to the gazer and the gazed, the show explores the subtle distinctions in the ways the artists of both sexes create and experience art. 

Untitled by Sunayani Devi

“For the making of this exhibition, DAG looked at two aspects that define the gaze. Women artists, their examinations of their own bodies, and the territories of art they occupy would have remained incomplete without the male artists and their surveillance of the female body. It was necessary to confine the work of these artists with reference to women, suggesting a skew that does not necessarily denote their wider canvas of work or view, but was essential to establish the confrontation between the male gaze and the female gaze as real—and evident,” notes DAG CEO, Ashish Anand.

Almost equally divided into parts – the first, featuring women artists begins with the unheralded but important Sunayani Devi to Devyani Krishna and Amrita Sher-Gil. Featuring 22 artists in all including Mrinalini Mukherjee, B. Prabha, Madhvi Parekh, Anupam Sud, Gogi Saroj Pal, Navjot, Arpana Caur and Rekha Rodwittiya. While a number of them explore the nude body—including the male nude—the gaze is not avaricious but is intended to be part of a narrative that takes humanitarianism into account. 

Woman with a Basket of Fruit by Krishen Khanna

Women as Muse – the second part, featuring M. V. Dhurandhar, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, D. P. Roy Chowdhury, George Keyt, K. H. Ara, F. N Souza, Krishen Khanna, M. F. Husain and Jogen Chowdhury among the 32 artists chosen, focuses only on these artists’ studies of women as a subject. The interesting layering and complexity of the exhibition opens up the space for conversations not just in art but in all popular culture.

The period covered in the exhibition parallels each other in both sections with artists born in the second half of the nineteenth century all the way to those born in the mid-twentieth century.

Featuring more than 150 works as part of the selection, Ways of Seeing opens for public viewing on February 5 in DAG, The Claridges and online on the gallery website with a week-long preview followed by the sale of works from  12 February – 7 March.


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