Grant Period: Over two years
Principal Investigator: Dr Tapati Guha Thakurta
The given histories of art in Calcutta in the colonialist and nationalist periods are largely confined to documenting and interpreting the prevailing artistic norms of the time. As a result, popular and commercial visual genres contained in the works of local artists and print makers - and no less significant to the consciousness of the time - have been left outside the pale of historical memory.
This grant enables Dr. Tapati Guha-Thakurta of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), to assemble and photo document a range of visual imagery in small private collections in Calcutta. The study will look at the different mutations and transfigurations of western techniques and new realistic illusionist modes, as they located themselves within inherited visual conventions. Dr. Guha-Thakurta's main underlying concern is to recast the idea of the hybrid, seeing it more as a dynamic product and process of cultural exchange and diffusion.
This grant will result in an illustrated monograph that plots how these lesser known art forms resisted their given histories; a visual archive located at CSSSC; covering prints produced by indigenous presses and circulated in journals; anonymous oil and tempera paintings on mythological themes; illustrations, cover designs and advertisements in books and journals; calendars, almanacs and book illustrations; and photographs in private collections. The archive is expected to open up new avenues for research in history and cultural studies and the Centre, through a brochure and catalogue, intends to encourage wider scholarly use of the archive.