A Kashmiri girl band is snubbed, and art shows disrupted gallery after gallery by culture police who call it all “obscene”. Artists in the city are turning livid, and say it’s been enough of a censor scare and they won’t take it anymore.
On Wednesday, a peaceful support group stood against the disruption of an art show titled ‘Nude’ at the Delhi Art Gallery. The the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had demanded closure of the exhibition, themed on the human body in Indian modern art. The show, which has on display iconic works by masters such as MF Husain and Raja Ravi Varma, has now resumed, albeit with restricted, by-invite entry.
Those who raised their voice against this moral policing of art included well-known Delhi artists such as Manu Parekh and Veer Munshi. “This is very unfortunate; I wish they would understand the exhibition. The term ‘nude’ agitated them and they thought that the country is under some threat. Why aren’t they going out and dealing with issues such as poverty and hunger? This is just a needless controversy to get a few minutes of fame,” says Kishore Singh, Head, Publication and Exhibition, Delhi Art Gallery. “The show is historically important and shows how artists have over a century looked at the human body and how their expressions have changed,” he further says.
Last year, an art exhibition by artist Balbir Krishnan, which depicted homosexuality, was vandalised and a painting was destroyed. Also, an exhibition by artist Pranava Prakash, showing nude paintings of female actors in Bollywood, was disrupted and the artist was assaulted. “How is this provocative? These people should see the works at Khajuraho, which has been around for hundreds of years,” says Krishnan.
Other times shows were disrupted by culture police...
In 2007, Shiv Sena activists had forced a gallery in Delhi to shut down their exhibition showcasing works of painter MF Husain. After it resumed, they damaged two paintings.
The first edition of the India Art Summit in 2008 had not showcased works of MF Husain after threats from extremists.
In 2002, a photo exhibition in Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery, with work by photog Vikram Bawa that showed two naked men kissing, was pulled down.