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K.B. Goel

Critical Writings on Art 1957–1998

Edited by Shruti Parthasarathy

Foreword by Geeta Kapur

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K.B. Goel

The history and trajectory of Indian modern art, a little over a century old by broad consensus, has begun to receive close scholarly attention only in the last two or so decades. And within it, it is the dominant artists, movements and regions constituting its ‘canon’ that have received the greater attention. Only in more recent times have explorations begun into Indian modernism’s diverse, divergent and lesser-known strains, tracing new linkages and recovering voices that are continually enriching scholarship, particularly vis-à-vis contemporary art and its postmodern slants.

A significant and almost entirely neglected aspect of this history has been of art criticism that grew in parallel with the art. The art criticism that emerged in the late 1940s and ’50s drew from the same wellspring of innovation and hope that the period of the struggle for independence triggered in the nation’s art. Little has been recovered of this criticism as it developed over the next fifty years and has significantly contributed to our present-day understanding of modernism.

One among this formative generation of art critics was the Delhi-based K.B. Goel, active from the 1950s to the 1990s. This annotated volume brings together his major writings spanning close to a half-century of Indian art. Accompanied by a foreword by the well-known art critic Geeta Kapur and a critical introduction, it seeks to add to the ongoing project of recovering Indian modernism’s significant voices and thus contribute to its discourse, from the critic’s ringside position.

Geeta Kapur

Geeta Kapur is a Delhi-based critic and curator. Her essays are extensively anthologized; her books include Contemporary Indian Artists (1978), When Was Modernism: essays on contemporary cultural practice in India (2000), Critic’s Compass: Navigating Practice (forthcoming). She was a founder-editor of Journal of Arts & Ideas and a member of the advisory council of Third Text. She is on the advisory board of ArtMargins, and an editorial advisor and trustee of Marg. She has curated survey exhibitions at Lalit Kala Akademi (Delhi), National Gallery of Modern Art (Delhi and Mumbai), Royal Academy of Arts (London). Her curatorial projects include: ‘Dispossession’, Johannesburg Biennale (1995); ‘“Bombay/Mumbai”, Century City’, Tate Modern, London (co-curator, 2001); ‘subTerrain’, House of World Cultures, Berlin (2003); ‘Aesthetic Bind’, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai (2013–14). She was jury member for the Biennales of Venice (2005), Dakar (2006) and Sharjah (2007); and member, advisory board of Asian Art Council and Guggenheim Museum, New York, Asian Art Archive, Hong Kong, Tate Research Centre: Asia, London. She has held visiting fellowships at the Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi; Clare Hall, University of Cambridge; Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She was awarded the Padmashri by the Government of India in 2009. 

Shruti Parthasarathy

Shruti Parthasarathy is an art historian and editor with a close focus on Indian modernism in art. She has worked on Indian modern and contemporary art for close to a decade, formerly with DAG, New Delhi, within exhibition curatorial premises and on a large number of art historical volumes. She also helped set up and headed DAG’s arts archive, and retains a close interest in archives as both a repository and site of knowledge creation. Her writings include the lead essay and original research in Group 1890: India’s Indigenous Modernism (DAG 2016) and a forthcoming monograph on the painter Ram Kumar. Her research interests include twentieth-century Indian art’s tussles with ‘modernity’, and excavating its voices and narratives charting a more individual, and regional, modernism. She is also a literary translator, working across literature, art and cinema. Her forthcoming work of translation is Mihir Pandya’s Hindi Cinema via Delhi (HarperCollins 2020), while a work-in-progress is a three-volume translation project exploring literary fiction and a travelogue.