21 Jan 2021
Please note this is an online event and will require you to use the video conferencing system Zoom.
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Contemporary artists in Asia and the West have been inspired by Tantra, interpreting it as a radical movement capable of challenging repressive attitudes towards gender, sex and politics.
This online discussion explores the subject with acclaimed artists Bharti Kher, Sutapa Biswas, Penny Slinger and Prafulla Mohanti. The panel will be moderated by Rebecca Heald from the Royal College of Art, curator of Thinking Tantra at the Drawing Room Gallery in London (2016).
Supported by the Bagri Foundation.
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About the speakers
Now living and working in New Delhi, British-Indian artist Bharti Kher was born in London in 1969. She graduated from Newcastle Polytechnic in 1991, and has since become a major international artist, with several solo exhibitions. Kher's work spans media, using installation, painting, the 'readymade' and sculpture to address themes that speak to her transnational career and identity. In particular, she has engaged with the place and perception of 'traditional' Indian motifs within an increasingly globalised world.
Born in 1962 in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, Sutapa Biswas moved to England at the age of four. In the 1980s she took up a place at the University of Leeds, then a centre of radical approaches to the history of art and artistic practice, with lecturers including the celebrated feminist art historian Griselda Pollock. Working closely with the latter, Biswas created a series of works that addressed the absence of racial politics in feminist and Marxist theory at the time. Her extensive oeuvre has continued to reflect upon questions of gender and identity, often through dark humour and satire.
Born in a village in Odisha, Prafulla Mohanti travelled to the UK in 1960, after graduating as an architect from the Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai. Dedicating himself full-time to painting, from the 1970s he became associated with the Neo-Tantra movement, which adopted Tantric symbols and adapted them to speak to the visual language of global modernism. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in the UK and Europe, the USA and Japan and has published a number of books – many of which explore the village life of his childhood.
Penny Slinger was born in London in 1947, but now lives in California. Her connections to prominent British Surrealists, notably Roland Penrose, influenced her early work, which pioneered a feminist response to the movement. After visiting the Hayward Gallery's Tantra exhibition in 1971, Slinger became a leading figure in Tantra's reimagination in Europe and the USA, co-authoring a series of influential books with the writer Nik Douglas and producing feminist interpretations of Tantric imagery. She has worked across a range of media, including photography, film and collage.
Rebecca Heald is a curator and lecturer at the Royal College of Art. Her work includes the curation and facilitation of installations, exhibitions, large-scale public artworks and initiatives for institutions including Art on the Underground, the ICA, Tate, British Council and King's Cross. In 2016 she curated the exhibition Thinking Tantra at the Drawing Room in London and Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai, which explored the intersections of Tantra with contemporary art.
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