Santosh Kumar Sakhinala

Arts Research

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

This grant will enable Santhosh to look at the history of modern art in Hyderabad in relation to the emergence of modern art practices in India, focusing on the aesthetic consciousness that influenced the pedagogy at the Central School of Art, Hyderabad. With the establishment of the Central School, a discursive space conducive to thinking about modern art and its conceptual frameworks emerged in the region. Santhosh will explore this space and the formation of its pedagogy forged by the individual journeys of artists trained at different art schools across India, who wove a network that linked the region with other cities.

Prior to the establishment of Central School in Hyderabad, drawing and other craft skills were imparted through technical and industrial schooling under the category of vocational education. With the inception of the Central School, a significant departure in reimagining art and crafts of the region, as having a continuation of the spirit of the ancient past, took place. The school was aimed at giving shape to this spirit and the structuring of modern art teaching. The first generation of teachers, trained at the JJ School of Art and Crafts, Bombay and the Madras Art School, formed an interesting network linking Hyderabad with other cities of India. One of the significant consequences of this shared network was that it guarded against the standardisation of art practice through a singular visual language, representative of region, like in the case of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay. Santhosh will explore this amebous nature of modern art and its evolution in Hyderabad and how the institution played a role in this history. Instead of focusing on the individual stories and histories of the artists and their journeys, he will excavate the discursive formations of modern art in the region using their journeys and the interconnections they shared, to see how this influenced teaching in the art school.

The project is conceived as a response to the idea of the existence of a ‘national’ identity of Indian art before and after independence and keeps in view the socio-cultural frameworks of art of the Hyderabad region and its relation to politics – especially since this region was under the administrative rule of the Nizam and was annexed to mainland India post independence. Thus Santhosh aims to explore the ways through which the idea of the region - in terms of territory and its culture - underwent significant changes. Santhosh attempts not to fill in the story of modern art of the region in the national landscape; instead he tries to locate and understand the specific character of the modern art of Hyderabad where region is not a fixed entity in relation to identity but something that has to be constantly marked and remarked for political and emotional configurations.  

Santhosh will interview artists, their relatives and friends and senior teachers who have been associated with the network of art practice in Hyderabad. He will document the works of art, collect relevant textual material like monographs and catalogues of the artists, articles and books on modern art and artists of Hyderabad, both in English and vernacular languages. His selection of artists will be guided by the time period he has chosen to work with, i.e. 1940 to 1980s. Instead of conducting formal interviews the researcher has planned to have repeated conversations with the artists to juxtapose them and see what intersections emerge out of these conversations. Santhosh will visit Rajamundry, Vijayawada, Vishakhapatnam, Bangalore, Baroda, Chennai, Delhi, Vetapalem Town, Musulipatnam Town and Siddipet, to procure materials and sources from the archives and private collections there.