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

By Michael Fitzgerald | The Wall Street Journal

In 1947, Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings led to American art joining the international avant-garde. In India, 1947 also marked a beginning for artists of international ambitions, and it came amid transformations of Indian society that are still shaping our world.

Curated by the Mumbai-based art historian and gallerist Arshiya Lokhandwala, “After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India, 1947/1997” at the Queens Museum compares the artistic renaissance that followed independence with Indian art produced after 1997—the 50th anniversary of independence, which prompted profound questioning of the nation’s success as a democracy and its world-wide standing, artistic as well as political and economic. The exhibition explores not only the development of contemporary Indian art but also the process of globalization that links Indian artists with their counterparts in New York and creative centers on every continent.

India’s achievement of independence from Britain inspired a generation of artists to project their culture onto the world stage. Yet the partition of the subcontinent and wars with Pakistan challenged India’s artists to address the deeply problematic reality of a new nation immediately plunged into violence.

21 April 2015