Look Inside

Volume 69 Number 3, March-June 2018

Volume 69 Number 3

Art: Faked │ Stolen │ Censored
Edited by: Naman P. Ahuja and Latika Gupta

Freedom After Speech: Art and the Indian State
Akhil Sibal

Modes of Resistance in India: Sahmat’s Experiments in Dissent
Ram Rahman

A Responsibility for Protecting Erotica
Naman P. Ahuja

Authenticity and Excellence in Narrative Paintings from Rajasthan: An Addendum
Vishakha N. Desai

A Market for Fakes: "Miniature" Painting in Rajasthan, 1960–2000
Varunika Saraf

New Lives for Returned Images: The Family of Icons from Sripuranthan
Richard H. Davis

Rumour Has It… The Case of Chandraketugarh
Naman P. Ahuja with contributions by Pieter Meyers

Copies without Originals: The Work of Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Lawrence Liang

Book Review
Jain Vastrapatas: Jain Paintings on Cloth and Paper, by Shridhar Andhare and (the late) Laxmanbhai Bhojak
John E. Cort

The inside cover write-up and images on pages 1-9 introduce the magazine and feature art that has allegedly been faked, stolen or censored, set against a collage of the sensational news that it makes.

Thematic Ad-Portfolio: Introduction
Gupta, Latika
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 1–9

This introduction highlights the key issues of art theft, forgery and censorship that have come to be of concern for artists, dealers, collectors and consumers. Bringing up debates surrounding laws and policies in the field, the editor lays out the details of the essays to follow and how each engages with the magazine themes. The accompanying portfolio presents a collage of artworks and newspaper clippings that have been at the heart of some of these national and international controversies.

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Editorial Note
Ahuja, Naman P.
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, p. 12

The editor reflects on recent cases to ask certain thorny questions related to the preservation of art against threats of forgery, theft, destruction and bans. He suggests a reformation in laws and policies that enable easier, transparent movement and sale of objects between and within countries and a greater awareness among communities so that they are encouraged to protect their art and cultural objects.

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Freedom After Speech: Art and the Indian State
Sibal, Akhil
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 14–27

Writing in November 2017, the author observes the growing tension surrounding the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat and reflects on the unfortunate atmosphere of intolerance and censorship that has come to haunt the arts in the country. Highlighting a series of cases where artists came under attack for objections raised about their works, the article discusses the need of the State to reinforce the freedom of expression guaranteed to these figures by the law and the need for authorities to protect individual rights from mob violence and hooliganism. Accompanying the essay are archival pages from a Marg 1954 issue that covered the judgement on a case brought against Akbar Padamsee's painting The Lovers.

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Modes of Resistance in India: Sahmat’s Experiments in Dissent
Rahman, Ram
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 28–37

Formed in the aftermath of the murder of noted playwright, poet and activist Safdar Hashmi, Sahmat defines itself as a platform that brings together scholars from the social sciences, and uses art as a tool to critique and resist right-wing politics, thereby restoring a space of cultural freedom for other voices. The article traces the history of this Delhi-based organization, from its links to the IPTA Movement and the protests against the Babri Masjid demolition in the 1990s, to its more recent activities in support of M.F. Husain and the demand of justice for slain radical thinkers and journalists like Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.

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A Responsibility for Protecting Erotica
Ahuja, Naman P.
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 38–45

This essay looks back at the reception of erotica in Indian art and culture down the ages. Citing examples from the sculpture of Konarak, Khajuraho and Karla to illustrations in the Gita Govinda and Chandayan and antique seals and combs, the author tries to understand the spaces that existed for sex and its depictions in ancient and medieval societies and the many sacred and mundane purposes these served. Arguing that erotica has and continues to be rampant in our everyday lives and caters to our basic human desire for pleasurable and voyeuristic consumption, the author urges for a more open-minded acceptance of it in a world which is increasingly seeking to curtail and repress it.

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Authenticity and Excellence in Narrative Paintings from Rajasthan: An Addendum
Desai, Vishakha N.
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 46–53

Responding to an essay she wrote for the catalogue of a 1988 exhibition The Real, The Fake, and the Masterpiece, the author looks at three specific Rajput paintings (The Compassion of Krishna, Lady at Her Toilette and The Fight between Arjuna and Karna ) and reassesses their aesthetic qualities, keeping in mind their narrative contents and the contexts in which they were produced. Since much of the Indian tradition of painting depends on processes of copying certain styles and schools, the authenticity of these works cannot be defined according to the terms applied for Western artworks. And yet, the author highlights certain details to establish how some of the paintings may be deemed more "original" than others and must be highly valued for the way they convey truths about their times and larger universal ideas.

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A Market for Fakes: "Miniature" Painting in Rajasthan, 1960–2000
Saraf, Varunika
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 54–63

After independence, as princely families liquidated their family collections, several miniature paintings from these previously unknown sources began to flood the art market. While exceptional paintings were snapped up by discerning collectors, art dealers were left with a number of damaged artworks. They turned to artist families in Rajasthan to restore these works. They soon realized that the artists' knowledge of past traditions and their mastery over the technique could be used to create exact copies. This article examines how an informal system of art conservation gave rise to a niche market for fakes and led to the subsequent revival of the various schools of miniature painting.

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New Lives for Returned Images: The Family of Icons from Sripuranthan
Davis, Richard H.
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 64–77

This essay looks at the controversial Subhash Kapoor case where the infamous art dealer smuggled out of India eight medieval Chola bronze icons from the village of Sripuranthan in Tamil Nadu, and sold them to various museums and private collectors abroad. Since Kapoor's arrest in 2011, four of these bronzes have been tracked down and repatriated to Tamil Nadu. The author examines the lives of these images from a biographical perspective and considers the futures that await these religious icons once they come back to India. Can they be reconsecrated and returned to their previous places of worship? Or must they be protected in closed, guarded icon centres? Seeking inspiration from the efforts T. K. Palaniappan, District Collector of Thanjavur district in the 1950s, he suggests that the best option might be to house these detached and vulnerable temple images in museums like the Thanjavur Art Gallery.

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Rumour Has It… The Case of Chandraketugarh
Ahuja, Naman P. and Meyers, Pieter
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 78–91

"Chandraketugarh" refers to a large archaeological site in southern Bengal where a vast stock of artefacts have been found dating back to the Early Historic Period, from Mauryan to Kushana times. Besides excavations conducted by the ASI, a spate of unofficial local digging continues in the area, throwing up newer objects. This essay focusses on these archaeological discoveries and discusses the problems related to the scientific processes required to accurately determine their dates and origins. The lack of clarity has allowed many to question the veracity of these objects, calling them "fakes". The authors wish to dispel such notions, restating that while there may be the odd case of forgery, the bulk of the material found should be deemed worthy of historical investigation and preservation.

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Copies without Originals: The Work of Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Liang, Lawrence
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 92–101

In this thought-provoking piece, the author focuses on a set of technical and legal issues that define and complicate the idea of intellectual copyright across a variety of mediums. Considering in particular the dynamics of digital production, the author mentions that the distinctions between the "original" and the "copy" must be reviewed, and that the crisis posed by the copy must be seen not so much in aesthetic terms but in terms of how it effects commodity flow and monetary values. Drawing examples from cinema, painting and literature, the author provides a historical context to the debates and states that it can only be a labour of love that generates a mark of authenticity in an age of overflowing copies.

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Book Review
Vol. 69 No. 3, March–June 2018, pp. 102–03

Jain Vastrapatas: Jain Paintings on Cloth and Paper, by Sridhar Andhare and (the late) Laxmanbhai Bhojak, reviewed by John E. Cort.

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