Responsible for curating several significant and perceptive exhibitions in India and abroad, and giving a name to some of the most upcoming and influential artists, photographers and sculptors, Alka Pande is currently engrossed as the Consultant Arts Advisor and Curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
One of the few people in India who portray a fine blend of traditionality, modernity and contemporarity of India, Alka is driven by the word ‘Passion’. Firmly rooted in Indian aesthetics and classical texts, Alka’s rendezvous with rasa and karma started right in her childhood. Her mother’s involvement in Indian classical music introduced her to sura and the music in life. As she grew up, she experienced the depth that underlies the Indian culture, art, aesthetics and values, and also how all of these are interwoven together. With the intensity and effort that goes into riyaaz along with the influence of her karamyogi father, the importance and value of tireless hard work got embedded in Alka.
An art critic, cultural theorist, teacher, curator, and an author, Alka Pande has been passionately involved with the world of art for nearly three decades. Mirroring this is the comfort with which she treads through the complexities and intricacies of Indian art, the rudimentary philosophy & sahitya, and the spiritual, figurative and cultural migrations in the world of art.
With two post graduate degrees, one in History and the second in History of Art, a PhD from Panjab University, she has served as the Head of Department of Fine Arts, Panjab University and the Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Panjab University, Chandigarh. Alka has also been a Visiting Faculty for Aesthetics at the College of Art as well as Reader, Department of Fine Arts, Punjab University, with a range of academic papers and lectures on diverse aspects of the arts to her credit.
Recipient of the Charles Wallace Award in 1999-2000, Alka completed her post-doctoral studies in critical art theory from Goldsmith College, University of London. In December 2006, she was awarded Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres – Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters – award bequeathed by the French government, to recognise significant contributions in the fields of art and literature.
Alka has been passionately working in the area of gender, identity, visual arts and Indian aesthetics with special interest in ancient Indian erotic art & literature as well as gender & sexuality.
A prolific writer on Indology and art history, Alka has authored several well acclaimed books, with a few in foreign language translations. Her special interest in Ancient Indian Erotic literature and art led her to an extensive and in-depth study on the subject. Reflection of this is apparent in her publications ‘Leela’, ‘The New Age Kamasutra for Women’, ‘Ardhanarishvara the androgyne’, ‘Indian Erotica’ and ‘Indian Erotic Art’. Her next publication, ‘Shringara – Notion of Beauty’, also manifests her interest and knowledge in this realm.
She has a wide range of academic papers and lectures on diverse aspects of the arts to her credit. Alka Pande at the moment is engaged with art, aesthetics and the notions of Indian beauty, and all this comes out in her publication ‘Shringara: Eternal Beauty’.
Alka has an invaluable role in introducing & promoting emerging contemporary Indian artists. For many, she has been the scout in terms of placing them on national and international scene and giving them the platform to come in the public eye.
Her focus is to promote art by combining art & education, and encouraging new talent. With this focus, she has envisioned a Foundation of her own that will commission an annual award system in the field.
As her work keeps her in public space, Alka is more interested in the process of art than in the end result; that too the process driven by excellence as she believes that excellence will drive the market. At the same time, Alka do feels that endorsements from market are very important.
“And he said, ‘Come to the edge. . .’
And I said, ‘I cannot. I am afraid.’
And he said, ‘Come to the edge. . .’
And I said, ‘I cannot. I will fall.’
And he said, ‘Come to the edge. . .’
And I did.
And he pushed me.
And I flew. . .”