Indian art show tackles Gandhi, war and poverty

Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:22am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A new exhibition of art from India at Charles Saatchi's London gallery tackles issues including poverty, the environment, war, religion and the region of Kashmir disputed by Pakistan.

"The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today," which runs from Friday until May 7 and is free, follows similar surveys of art from China, the Middle East and the United States which have attracted more than a million visitors to the new gallery.

It brings together 26 artists, mostly from India but a handful from neighboring Pakistan, who are either still working in their native countries or have moved abroad to the United States, Britain and South Korea.

The Saatchi Gallery said Indian art has begun to thrive in galleries in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and is increasingly reflecting political and social issues that come with rapid economic expansion in the world's largest democracy.

"They are certainly not purely decorative works which fit in with our notion of Indian art, which is of beautiful miniature paintings, for example," said Rebecca Wilson, associate director of the Saatchi Gallery.

"This is showing a whole other side of India and it's not surprising that the artists are engaging with things to do with migration, poverty, slums and refuse," she added.

Wilson said that Saatchi, one of the world's most influential art collectors, had been buying works from India for several years and felt he now had enough quality pieces to make up a show.

"With China and now India becoming more significant on the global stage, growing as powers in their own right with booming economies, our attention is on these countries.   Continued...