South Asia in Central Europe

The Mobility of Artists and Art Works between 1947 and 1989.

Funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (V880-G). Duration 2021-2025

Project leader : Dr. Simone Wille

Project team members and partners:  Dr. Zuzana Smolinksa, affiliated researcher, Brativlava

                                                                     Lavanya Verma, phd researcher, Jahwarhalal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi


South Asia in Central Europe studies modernist artistic practice between 1947 and 1989 by tracing the careers of South Asian artists and their links to Central Europe during the Cold War period. it therefore sets out to re-draw the 'map of modernism'. South Asia in Central Europe focuses on the operative function of socialist solidarities and ethusiasms especially among youth during the period of decolonisation. 


The project looks at artists active in Bombay (Mumbai since 1995), New Delhi, Calcutta (Kolkata since 2001), Colombo, Karachi and Lahore and follows their ideological, intellectual and artistic routes to and exchanges with locations in Central Europe with Prague as a hub from where digressions were made to Brno, Bratislava, Olomouc, Litmerice, Leipzig, Vienna and St. Margarethen.


While taking Prague as a hub, the project offers a decentred, multi-site, mobile and 'entangled' account of modernist art-trajectories.


By taking into account the artists' unified interest in utopias, socialism, internationalism and postcolonial aesthetics, South Asia in Central Europe points to the central role that leftist thought played in the development of modernism across South Asia. As a key concern, the project challenges geopolitics and the bipolar narratives of East and West by identifying the region as a terrain of shifting and contested aesthetics and politics rather than a geopolitical reality. South Asia in Central Europe investigates the impact that the exchange and exposure to socialist Europe had on the wider artistic landscape across South Asia.


October 2023                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The Significance of Mobility and the Artistic Practice of Zahoor ul Akhlaq The Journal of Transcultural Studies, Vol. 13 No. 1–2 (2022)


December 2023

Modernism as Collaborative Practice: the Académie André Lhote and Egypt (1920s to 1950s)

In the framework of the public lecture series Exotismus revisited: Kulturelle Imaginationen, Projektionen und Aneignungen in Kunst und Kunstgeschichte(n), Katholische PrivatUniversität Linz, Wintersemester 2023/24

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