Walking Through Soul City,
Sudhir Patwardhan: A Retrospective

Curated by Nancy Adajania

29 November 2019  to  12 February  2020

National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

Exhibition supported by The Guild



Walking Through Soul City, Sudhir Patwardhan: A Retrospective


The National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai is delighted to present 'WALKING THROUGH SOUL CITY, Sudhir Patwardhan: A Retrospective', supported by Guild Art and curated by Ms. Nancy Adajania. The exhibition is on view from 30th November, 2019 to 12th February, 2020 and will include a range of public engagement  programs  such as panel discussions,  guided tours, publications and social outreach with underprivileged children.  

Over two hundred significant artworks, spanning over five decades have been included in this retrospective. A number of these works have been loaned, both from public and private museums, including private collections making it possible for the curator to access rare iconic works for this retrospective. Three of the artworks are from NGMA’s collection

Excerpt from Curator’s Note 

Patwardhan was socialised in Marxist thought in the early 1970s while studying medicine in Pune. He chose to become a radiologist and set up practice in Thane while continuing to paint and exhibit regularly.  Inevitably, then, he brings his scientific training to bear on his artistic practice, experience his scalpel-like observation of physical abnormalities. But equally, he brings to his works an intense hope for a unified field, an affinity for Platonic solids and impossible objects that are all the more real for being optical illusions. I would argue that Patwardhan’s art is propelled by the constant interplay between a palpable materialism and a philosophical idealism

One of the recurrent tropes in Patwardhan’s work is that of walking. Walking as an existentialist declaration   or  a   traversal   of   treacherous   ground,  as an  expression of  solidarity  with dissenters. Above all, walking as a construction of reality through the revisiting of memories, observations and desires. I would contend that this love of walking has made him approach the landscape, not as a genre construct, but as an enactment through meandering. […]This exhibition, which includes many rarely seen early works, testifies to all the major shifts in Patwardhans  oeuvre,  from  the  Bombay  riots  in  1992,  to  the  onslaught  of  the  forces  of globalisation  and the fragmentation  of class  solidarity,  to his growing  awareness  of his own vulnerable, ageing body and spectre-possessed mind. Hope, we know, is not verifiable. Yet it is transformative hope that Sudhir Patwardhan holds close to his heart, even while history asserts its inexorable claim. Nancy Adajania 

Patwardhan was born in Pune, Maharashtra in 1949 and graduated in Medicine from the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune in 1972. He moved to Mumbai in 1973 and worked as  a Radiologist in Thane until 2005. He took to full-time painting from 1975 onwards and held his first solo exhibition in 1979. In 1982, he was one of the six artists in the exhibition Place for People, a landmark show in Indian Art history which initiated a new concern with social issues in art. 

Some of Patwardhan’s select museum and institutional shows include, Humsafar, at Roopankar Museum of Fine Arts, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal presented by The Guild, 2018; The Journey is the Destination,  Jehangir  Nicholson  Art  Foundation,  CSMVS,  Mumbai,  2016;  Kochi  Muziris Biennale, Kochi, 2014; Midnight to the Boom, Painting in India after Independence, curated by Susan Bean, Peabody Essex Museum of Art, Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 2013; The Sahmat Collective, Art and Activism in India since 1989, curated by Jessica Moss and Ram Rahman, The Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2013; Social Fabric, curated by Grant Watson. INIVA, London; Lunds Konsthall, Lund, Sweden; Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai; Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, Zhejiang Museum, China, 2012; Cinema City, curated by Madhushree Dutta and Archana Hande; NGMA, Mumbai and New Delhi by Majlis, 2012; Modernist Art from India, curated by Beth Citron, Rubin Museum, New York, 2011; Modern Indian Art – Ethos of Modernity, Sichuan Museum, Shenzhen Museum, Zhejiang Museum, China, 2010; Re Visions, Indian Artist Emerging Traditions, Susan Bean, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 2009. 

His recent solo shows include, Spectres, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2017; Line by Line, Gallerie 88, Kolkata in collaboration with The Guild, Mumbai, 2016; Route Maps, The Guild, Mumbai, 2012; Family Fiction, Sakshi Gallery Mumbai and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2011; The Crafting of Reality, The Guild, Mumbai, 2008.

About Nancy Adajania 

Nancy Adajania is a cultural theorist and curator based in Bombay. Adajania was Joint Artistic Director of the 9th Gwangju Biennale in 2012, and has curated many exhibitions including: ‘ ‘The  Earths  Heart  Torn  Out’,  Navjot Altaf: A Life  in Art’(National  Gallery  of Modern  Art, Mumbai,  2018/2019)  and ‘No Parsi is an Island: A Curatorial  Re-reading  Across 150 Years’ (National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, 2016). Her forthcoming curatorial projects include: ‘Counter-Canon, Counter-Culture: Alternative Histories of Indian Art’, Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, 2019 and the Bawwaba section of Art Dubai 2020. 

Adajania taught the curatorial practice course at the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts (2013/2014).  She was the juror for Video/Film/New Media fellowship cycle of the AkademieSchloss Solitude (2015-2017). Adajania has proposed several new theoretical models through her extensive writings on media art, public art, transcultural art and the biennale culture from the Global South.  She  has  lectured  on  these  subjects  at  numerous  venues  including Documenta 11, Kassel; ZKM, Karlsruhe; the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York and the 3rd Former West Research Congress, Vienna. She has recently edited two transdisciplinary anthologies ‘Some things that only art can do: A Lexicon of Affective Knowledge’ and ‘Totems and Taboos: What can and cannot be done’ for the Raza Foundation (2017/2018). 

About the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai 

The National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai was opened to the public on December 23rd, 1996. It is located in the precincts of the former auditorium the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall (C.J.P. Hall) and the Institute of Science. This architecturally marvellous building was designed and built by the famous British architect George Wittet in 1911. C. J. Hall was donated to the city of Mumbai in 1911 by Sir Cowasji Jehangir, whose family has gifted the city, no less than four magnificent public buildings. 

Only the facade remains of the edifice that was built by George Wittet. This building has been completely redesigned by the famous architect Romi Khosla giving it a spiral spin.  The interior with  its  elegant  horse  - shoe  shaped  balconies  now  exhibits  a different  look  with  a  central stairway and semicircular galleries at different levels.  

NGMA, Mumbai is home to an incredible collection of one thousand four hundred and fifty-six art works which include paintings, sculptures, graphics and photographs. While the permanent collection includes both Indian and international artists, special focus has been on the Bombay Progressive Artists which includes the artists S.H. Raza, V. S. Gaitonde, Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar, F. N. Souza and more. However,  true to its ethos as an institution  that is resolutely focused on India’s contemporary  art landscape,  it also houses the works of artists like Nalini Malani,  Anupam  Sud,  Vasudeo Kamath,  Arpana  Caur  and sculptures  by  Himmat  Shah,  J.K. Chillar and Dilip Mishra.

NGMA, Mumbai has had a great tradition of hosting several spectacular exhibitions in the past, which continues till date. Some of the recent exhibitions include the highly successful ‘Bombay Art  Society  exhibition,  which  covered  the  landscape  of  the  historic  Bombay  Art  Society's existence  over 125 years. NGMA, Mumbai has also hosted several other notable exhibitions which include Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil, Jamini Roy, Nicholas Roerich, the Parsi exhibition and major exhibitions on A. A. Almelkar and M. V. Dhurandhar. 

NGMA, Mumbai also has an impressive auditorium where film screenings and several outreach events are conducted for all age groups, regularly, in order to promote art and culture

About The Guild 

The Guild was set up in 1997 in Mumbai. Since its inception, it has aimed at functioning as a semi-institutional space and has been providing a platform for discursive practices, innovation and experimentation in contemporary art. It believes in promoting critical ideas and work with artists who are engaged in critical practices in different mediums reflecting diverse perspectives in their practices. The Guild has been engaging with artists who range from emerging and mid- career to the senior Indian artists who have brought in robust dialogue within and across the field. Its objective is to contribute to the artistic production as well as to the curatorial practices in India. 

The  Guild  believes  in  building  an  extensive  scholarship  through  academically  and  critically rigorous books and catalogues authored by well-known and emerging academicians, art critics, art historians and artists – on artists and their practices that would hopefully form as an important scholarship in the trajectories of these artists and become mainstream material in the construct of Indian Art History. In December 2018 January 2019, it presented a retrospective The Earth’s Heart, Torn Out, NavjotAltaf: A Life in Art in collaboration with National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai, curated by Nancy Adajania. The current publishing projects include a book on  artist-photographer Jyoti Bhatt, with  an essay  by  Ram  Rahman;  two other  books  are  at completion  stage including two more in the planning;  catalogues  in the making are - on past exhibitions and a catalogue of Sudhir Patwardhan retrospective at NGMA, Mumbai. 

In 2015, The Guild opened its new premises in Alibaug, a 3,500sq. ft exhibition space amidst paddy fields and palm fronds. Since then it has hosted several important exhibitions and events.

For more details, please contact us on
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