Tribal Contours

Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
29th – 31th July, 2011

As an art historian and a curator I have been aware of Gond art for the last many years. As part of my curatorial practice I have been looking at what has been defined in the past by cultural theorists, as folk and tribal art. I have included artists who belong to this genre of artistic expression in many of my curatorial projects in the past. The inclusion was done basically to show the plural culture and the cultural diversity of the land.

I fell back into the texts of classical studies of anthropologists of Verrier Elwin , writer John Bolts and artist the late J. Swaminathan and others to get deeper into the subject. For increasingly I am not wanting to stick by the definitions of what is ‘folk’ and ‘tribal’ art. For me like many other scholars folk and tribal are part of our living cultures. These traditions of non formal trained artists is very much part of the culture of the land.

Here I go back to the cave paintings of Bhimbhetka in India, to Altmira in Spain, and Lascaux in France, all of whom have certain common attributes even though they were made in different parts of the world, but perhaps at the same time.

Known as cave painting, relegated to the arena of cave art, these pre modern artistic expressions are very important to art historians for they help in tracing the story of man. The colourfully bright, decorative art from Gondwana land is deeply conceptual and multi layered. I have gleaned some significant nuggets of knowledge in the diverse art and cultural practices through my interaction with the Gond artists. The art of the Gonds is not simply a beautiful painting or a sculpture but it is piece of living history.

Dr. Alka Pande

Knotted Threads

Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
8th – 19th November, 2011

An Art Installation / Exhibition and Exchange Project by Nesa Gschwend, Switzerland from 8th to 19th November 2011 at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India. It was curated by Dr. Alka Pande.

knotted threads aimed at continuing and deepening a cross cultural dialogue initiated in 2006 by the Swiss artist Nesa Gschwend. Nesa attempted to build bridges and conversations, and also interrogated cultural differences through site specific art works and photography.. The search for connecting as well as dividing cultural phenomenons, and the subsequent research into their backgrounds through creative expression and of course in direct encounters with Indian artists. knotted threads combined video works and textile objects into a complete installation.

The previous show titled ‘Red Strings Through My Hands’, at the Experimental Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre was also curated by Dr. Alka Pande in 2009.

Her shows were Inspired by the clothing of the Indian women – the sari, and by encounters, places and impression in this chaotic pilgrimage destination, she created a variety of works.

She captured the traces of lives of Indian women, which they had left in their daily dressings – lives in a complex, contradictory, confusing and, from her perspective, incomprehensible spectrum of hierarchies, castes, discriminations, drastic gaps between poor and rich – individual destinies in a cultural setting unfamiliar to her.

Dr. Alka Pande



Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
20th – 23rd November, 2011


Myth is neither a lie nor a confession: it is an inflexion.

In 1957, Roland Barthes, the French philosopher and semioticians, explored the tendency of contemporary social value systems to create modern myths. Embroidering on Ferdinard de Sassuare’s system of sign analysis, wherein sign is completely arbitrary, so there is not necessarily a connection between the sign and its meaning.

Myth is frequently confused with legend, where the stories are set in a more recent time and feature humans a the main characters, and folktale, with its stories that can be set in any time and place and that are not considered true or sacred. However, you define traditional stories- by calling them myth, legend or folklore- there is one theory that they frequently have their roots in historical events and that storytellers repeatedly elaborated upon accounts of these events until the figures in those accounts gained the status of gods. Other theories posit that myths began as allegories for natural phenomena- describing fire, water, etc, as gods- or as allegories or spiritual concepts- wisdom, desire etc.

Dr. Alka Pande


Limitless Futures

Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
30th Nov – 1st December, 2011

Over the years the language of art is undergoing numerous changes. From the earliest cave paintings discovered in the sites of Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France and closer home to Bhimbhetka in India, art was as is today an undoubted medium of artistic and personal expression. From myths, magic, ritual and part fertility rites art has also become part of an avid market space. With globalisation and free economies and constant movement of multi national chains, there is also enormous amount of the exchange of cultural capital.

It is perhaps for this reason that in recent times a number of contemporary Indian art collaborations are developing in such a thoughtful manner. For instance, when Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in 2006 dedicated its second exhibition titled ‘India of the Senses’ to the works of French and Indian artists it reinforced its association with Indian market. The association which can be traced back to 1920s when princely families benevolently induced themselves in such indulges. The contribution of 4-foot tall installation by Suboth Gupta to Absolut Vodka’s 30 years old Ablsolut Art Collection is the first ever art installation in Asia. Mercedes joined hands with Saffrontart to unveil their new customized S-Class ‘Art Edition’ to introduce the ‘Art and Aesthetic Series’.

Victorinox , ‘from the Swiss Army Knife to globally diversified company’, is bound to be a muse to a creative mind. The company driven by perseverance and continual growth add impetus to the artistic impulse of the artists. The ten artists who have defined their niche in respective genres with the present exhibition multiply the vocabulary to reinforce the multi-dimension of the artistic subject. The limitless future of Victorinox accompanied by the constantly growing creative of Indian artists and art transcends the established boundaries to seek new beginnings.

In 1884, when Karl Elsener, the cutler and businessman, opened knife manufacturing company in Central Switzerland Ibach Schwyz, little did he know that after 127 years, a group of ten contemporary Indian artists would draw their inspiration from the Victorinox.

The wedding between art and commercial brands has heralded a chain of novel practices to promote the respective disciplines. The dawn of Victorinox in India is not just confined to the presence of any other international brand in the blooming Indian market but 2011 will witness an endeavour to lay another stepping stone in the history of Indian art. The long history of Victorinox runs parallel to the ever flourishing Indian arts and aesthetics.

Dr. Alka Pande