3 February 2024/


The National Gallery of Modern Art, Ministry of Culture, Government of India in association with the Museum of Sacred Art (MOSA), Belgium presents SHAKTI, an exhibition of art works of select group of women artists of India, curated by eminent art historian and writer Sushma K. Bahl at New Delhi on Sunday, 4 February 2024. The Exhibition will be on show till 31 March 2023.


Hon. Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi will inaugurate the Exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.


Dr Sanjeev Kishor Goutam, Director General of NGMA, New Delhi & Martin Gurvich, Director MOSA, Belgium

“Shakti, a source of all energy, is personified as a divine goddess, mother earth and feminine principle, not just in Hindu philosophy but in theologies around the world. Her dynamic energy is the spring for creation, sustenance, demolition and regeneration of life in the universe.

Fair and fierce, the nurturing and compassionate woman is Shakti. Her fair streak is symbolised as love, warmth, generosity and fertility, not just the colour of her skin as often misrepresented in advertisements, movies and media. Her fierce aspect signifies a resilience that can confront injustice and violence. Though described and revered as Ardhangini (wife/ better-half), Grih-Laksmi (goddess of household prosperity), Sarasvati (the epitome of knowledge and wisdom), Durga (warrior goddess), Ardhnarishwar (composite androgynous divinity) and in numerous other forms, fables and avatars (incarnations), as per ancient Indian civilization history, her body and image are violated in real life. Misconstrued as feeble and subservient, she is often subjected to rigid gender constructs, discrimination, sexual exploitation, marginalization and violence; at home, in society and at the workplace, even in this day and age, and not just in India but also countries and cultures around the globe! Gradually though, the dominance of patriarchy and the validity of the male gaze is getting challenged. The Shakti art project exemplifies the current churning, supported by state initiatives and community networks, that calls for women’s inclusion and equity at all levels of society,” renowned art historian and writer Sushma K. Bahl briefs on the concept of the exhibition, Shakti: Fair & Fierce with inputs from acclaimed art curator Meghna Vyas Arora, celebrating feminine creativity and empowerment in the lead-up to the International Day of Women.

Here, the tapestry of artworks spans varied domains, dimensions, techniques, genres and themes featuring women’s voices and their multifaceted creative engagements through their 100-plus artworks.

“The inclusive project, in a blend of mythology and narratives, features remarkable work by a select group of women artists. There are paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and installations besides animation, digital, video and pop art as well as embroideries among works in other media with a focus on issues and dreams that concern women and their life experiences. The collection manifests the vitality of women’s multi-faceted creative engagement which goes beyond a limited domestic periphery onto wider and varied domains of interest to them and the larger society,” says Sushma K. Bahl, curator of the Show.

“The collection encompasses freshly minted works in varied modes and materials. Reflective of a feminine force within a mythical context it features imagery painted by internationally acclaimed senior artists such as Madhvi Parekh, Jayasri Burman and Arpana Caur. Also work by art school-qualified professional legends such as Shantamani Muddaiah, Shobha Broota, Radha Gomaty, Sujata Bajaj and Brinda Miller explores feminine discourse in a broader social context. Emerging star artists Keerti Pooja and Sonal Varshneya reflect on feminine life within and beyond their familiar domestic surroundings in a series of amazing drawings and etchings. There are also young women engaged in experiments with digital media such as Charuvi Agrawal and Richa Navani and innovative photographer Saadiya Kochar. Their work engages with concepts around the divine feminine boldly making her way through the prevailing social strife. There is also a substantial body of exquisite colourful creations credited to multi-media artists Seema Kohli and Kanchan Chander and sculptor Nivedita Mishra, which are expressive of robust feminine wings that define their vital contribution to society,” she added.

Known for creating the longest indigo painting on sustainable hand-spun Khaddar textile, renowned artist Sangeeta Gupta’s exploration of textile and block printing practices leads one to the work of hereditarily trained women embroiders. Effectively combining heritage and traditions with modernity and innovation, their art raises voices against women’s socio-economic marginalization and exploitation, asserting the feminine right to equity.

The exhibition also showcases large-scale installations, digital technology-inspired creatives together with handmade exquisite embroideries, the liberating threads of Chamba Rumal from Himachal Pradesh, Kantha from West Bengal, Kashidakari from Kashmir, Rabari from Kutch, Sujani and Khatwa from Bihar. The Platform offers an outlet for self-release by showcasing their creative acumen and enhances their self-confidence, independence, a sense of achievement and a source of earning a living.

“The captivating ensemble, a part of the Museum of Sacred Art collection, following its launch in India presented in partnership with the National Gallery of Modern Art, Ministry of Culture, will travel to Belgium and possibly elsewhere internationally.

The collection mainstreams Indian feminine Shakti and puts it on an international circuit, as it builds bridges between the male/female gender divide and gaze. It articulates the need for dismantling the modernity, tradition, art/craft, urban/rural and high/low art dichotomy in pursuit of a wholesome and inclusive society,” says eminent historian and writer Sushma K. Bahl.

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