Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 20-21 (March 1991) p. 99.


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Further Narratives

D Geeta Kapur

Geeta Kapur studied art at New York University and the Royal College of Art, London. After teaching briefly in the Humanities Department ofIIT, Delhi, she decided to become a full-time writer on contemporary art. During 1976-78 she held a Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, where she completed her book, Contemporary Indian Artists (Vikas, Delhi, 1978). She has been associated in the capacity of curator I author with several exhibitions such as Pictorial Space (Delhi, 1977-78), Place for People (Bombay, Delhi, 1981), Contemporary Indian Art and Six Indian Artists (London, 1982).

In 1987 she published a monograph, K.G. Subramanyan (Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi, 1987). She is currently working on a thematized book on aspects of modernism in Indian art.

From 1985-90 she held a Fellowship at the Nehru Memorial MuseumandLibrary, Delhi. Heresheworked

on a set of papers which attempt to build a framework, and a form of historical inscription, for contemporary cultural practice in India. Some of these papers, like 'Mythic Material in Indian Cinema', 'Ravi Varma:

Representational Dilemmas of a 19th century Indian Painter', have been published in (^Journal of Arts &:

Ideas Wos. 16 and 18); 'Articulating the Self into History: Ritwik Ghatak's Jukti Takko oar Gappo' is part of an anthology, Questions of Third Cinema (BFI, London, 1989); and two other papers with the running title, 'Contemporary Cultural Practice in India' have been published in Third Text (No. 12, Summer 1990) and Art Monthly (Australia, Spring 1991).

She is a founder member of the Journal of Arts & Ideas.

What impels me to this tentative exposition is my feeling that never before in the Indian situation have we had so urgent a need to devise ways of eliciting meaning from the art practice that is at hand. We have to try to withstand the processes of reification that are now so powerful through alternate practice and discourse. What we ourselves have written in certain ways needs perhaps to be revised; every time a new historical moment within our national cultural situation arises we have to leam to use new meaning-constructions.

The concept of nation and the formal modes of representation/ narration in art practice that may gain a reflexive relationship from the category of the nation: this was on my mind when I set out to make these notes. Within our heritage of 'romantic' nationalism cultural practice has been conceived of as functioning under the sign of mythos. Coomaraswamy's idealism and Tagore's kind of modernism, and in a sense Gandhi's desire to project organic


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