Anita Dube

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Anita Dube (born 1958) is an Indian contemporary artist whose conceptually rich, politically charged work has been widely exhibited in India at major museums and galleries, Lakeeren Gallery, Mumbai including the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (New Delhi); the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (Mumbai); Gallery Nature Morte (New Delhi), KHOJ International Artists' Association (New Delhi).


Dube completed her B.A. with honors in History from the University of Delhi in 1979. She completed her M.F.A. in Art Criticism from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in 1982, during a particularly productive and influential period in that university's storied Faculty of Fine Arts.[1]

Early career and the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association[edit]

Dube’s training as an art historian at Baroda continues to influence her practice as a visual artist, as do her ties to the short-lived but extremely influential Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association, a group of predominantly Malayali contemporary artists (with Dube a rare exception) formed by K. P. Krishnakumar in Baroda in 1987 that forged an explicitly radical, socially and politically conscious approach to art making in contrast with the more figurative style of painting associated with an earlier generation of artists and faculty at Baroda. These latter were part of the so-called “Baroda School” also sometimes called the “narrative painters,” a group that came to prominence in the mid to late 1970s, and included figures such as Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani, Vivan Sundaram, Jogen Chowdhury, Sudhir Patwardhan, Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh and critic Geeta Kapur.[2]

In 1987, the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association, led by Krishnakumar, held an exhibition “Questions and Dialogue” at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda, which was accompanied by posters around campus and a manifesto, written by Dube, denouncing the commodification of art in general, and what they saw as the lack of sincere, effective political and social engagement on the part of the “narrative painters.”[3] Dube and her peers at Baroda were committed to a radical project of challenging a retrogressive, bourgeois-centered art industry. This entailed, among other things, a conscious shift in medium: Dube and others focused on inexpensive, industrial materials and found objects in an effort to create works that resisted commodification, connected with working-class audiences, and directed a militant critique at bourgeois notions of art making, display and consumption.[4]

Following the exhibition, the group shifted its activities to Kerala, where another exhibition was held at Kozhikode in February, 1989. Also in 1989, the group staged a demonstration and published a pamphlet excoriating a Sotheby’s auction held in Mumbai that year with support from the Times of India — still a novel concept for India’s relatively quiet 1980s art market. “The Times of India’s sudden interest in Indian Art and Culture now shows that the Imperialists want to completely poison the people’s mind and life through antihuman projects for artists,” it read, adding that the exhibition’s invocation of “Timeless” India was the legacy of a “colonialist strategy to see everything as ‘timeless’, and now the Indian ruling classes see their country with the same eyes.”[5]

Later work[edit]

When the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association disbanded in 1989, following the death of KP Krishnakumar, Dube shifted her focus from writing and criticism to making visual art, developing an aesthetic idiom that utilizes found objects and industrial materials, word play and photography in order to offer a sustained analysis and critique of existing social and political conditions in India and beyond. Philippe Vergne, in a 2003 essay, writes that Dube's work "privileges sculptural fragment as a cultural bearer of personal and social memories, history, mythologies and phenomenological experiences.”[6]

Dube’s language-based sculptural work is particularly notable. She has said that she is “interested in how a word can become architecture”.[7] This interest is evident in a work titled 5 Words (2007), which was included in a 2007-2008 exhibition at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. Consisting of five separate pieces, 5 Words explores the fraught cross-cultural semantics and sculptural possibilities of five value-laden words that begin with the letter W. Another body of work that Dube is known for involves the use of the adhesive-backed, industrially produced ceramic eyes typically affixed to Hindu religious images. An example of this type of work is The Sleep of Reason Creates Monsters (2001), first installed at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland, makes reference to Francisco Goya’s famous set of aquatint prints, Los Caprichos, produced between 1797 and 1798.[8]

Internationally, her work has been shown at the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Contemporary Arts Museum (Houston), Museo Rufino Tamayo (Mexico City) and the Havana biennial, among others. Recent solo exhibitions have included shows at Nature Morte (Berlin; 2013); Lakeeren Gallery (Mumbai; 2013); Galerie Dominique Fiat (Paris; 2011); Bose Pacia (New York; 2008), Galerie Almine Rech (Paris; 2007), and Gallery Nature Morte (New Delhi; 2000, 2005). Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions, including shows at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (2013), and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2011).[citation needed]

In 1997, Dube cofounded KHOJ, an International Artists' Association in New Delhi. What started as a relatively modest annual workshop has become a major platform for South Asian art within a global context, organizing international workshops, residencies and exhibitions.[9]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Anita Dube - CV". Gallery Nature Morte. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Gulam Mohammed Sheikh in conversation with Suman Gopinathan". otherspaces. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Questions & Dialogue: A Radical Manifesto". Art & Education. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Panikkar, Shivaji K. "FROM TRIVANDRUM TO BARODA AND BACK: A RE-READING". otherspaces. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Panikkar, Shivaji K. "FROM TRIVANDRUM TO BARODA AND BACK: A RE-READING". otherspaces. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Vergne, Philippe. "Anita Dube". Bose Pacia. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Anita Dube, September 7, 2007 – January 20, 2008". Mattress Factor. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age". Walker Art Center. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "About KHOJ". KHOJ International Artists' Association. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2014.