Art & Visual Cultures of South Asia

South Asia Art Initiative logo

Over the past several years, the Insitute for South Asia Studies at UC Berkeley has been focused on building a comprehensive program focused on the art and visual culture of South Asia that promotes the conversation, production of knowledge, and sharing of information about the material, visual, and sensory “stuff” of South Asia in the UC Berkeley campus as well as in the Bay Area, and beyond.

To this end, we have worked closely with the university’s Department of History of Art which offers excellent undergraduate and graduate training in the history of the visual arts in both Western and Asian culture, with a multi-disciplinary approach. Key faculty members with a focus on South Asian art have been integral to building this program. For example, Professor Joanna Williams was the Department’s preeminent professor of South and Southeast Asian art for the last 43 years. Professor Williams supervised and trained a generation of scholars whose work has focused on a range of topics, from Khmer temples to modernism in Indian art, from stone portrait sculptures of the Pallavas and the Cholas to Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts. During her tenure, Professor Williams was not only conversant with the visual cultures of North and South India (and even Sri Lanka), but she was one of the few Asian art historians who was able to link the two vast regions of South and Southeast Asia in her work. Many of her students and former students will be actively involved in program development for this Initiative.

Two other professors who focus exclusively on South Asian visual culture will be part of the committee of faculty leading this program. Sugata Ray who joined the Department in 2012, teaches courses on South Asian art, architecture, cinema, and visual culture. His current research interests focus on visual practices and built spaces in early modern and modern South Asia. Professor Ray is also interested in rethinking the debates surrounding the idea of a Global Art History through the frame of postcolonial studies. Atreyee Gupta, who joined in 2017, focuses on modern and contemporary art and its diaspora, which offers her the ability to address broader questions of globalization, hybridity, and cosmopolitanisms. In particular, she is interested in modernism and the politics of inhabitation, corporeality and sensoriality in 20th-century art practices, the intersections between modern art and processes of modernization in post-colonial contexts, institutional histories of modernisms, and aesthetics as a form of post-war global cultural capital.

graphic of roseComplementing the Department of Art History, the Department of Art Practice provides professional art training within the context of a research university. The Department offers a strong grounding in traditional artistic skills to complement a full curriculum of courses in new genres, electronic media, and critical practices. One of the newest additions to the Department of Art Practice is Pakistan-born Asma Kazmi, a performance artist and a sculptor who approaches her practice from a post installation/object centric position, which allows her to create transdisciplinary, relational works where people, media and objects come together.

Finally, we also work closely with the Berkeley Art Museum, the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley. As well as the Arts Research Center (ARC) at UC Berkeley, an interdisciplinary space that brings people together--from across the university and beyond the university, from across the arts and beyond the arts--for unexpected conversations, collaborations, and community-building. ARC fosters individual and collaborative research in the arts, supporting both published scholarship and new creative activity. ARC also provides a forum to share, test, and critique new work by UC Berkeley artists, arts scholars, and visiting fellows. 

 


UC Berkeley Faculty in South Asian Art

Allan DeSouza

Allan Desouza 
Associate Professor
Art Practice

Atreyee Gupta

Atreyee Gupta 
Assistant Professor
History of Art

Asma Kazmi

Asma Kazmi 
Assistant Professor
Art Practice

Sugata Ray

Sugata Ray 
Assistant Professor
History of Art

Joanna Williams

Joanna Williams 
Professor (Emerita)
History of Art

 

Upcoming Events

July 19, 2019
Yasmin Nupur: Art from Politics in Bangladesh
The South Asia Art Initiative is sending a team of scholars - Dr. Atreyee Gupta, Dr. Sugata Ray, Prof. Asma Kazmi, Dr. Sanchita Saxena, & Dr. Munis D. Faruqui - to the Dhaka Art Summit in 2020. The program titled, "Indian Ocean Imaginaries as World History," will unfold in close collaboration with artists, activists, and art and architecture historians in Bangladesh. The Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is an international, non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia. Founded in 2012 by the Samdani Art Foundation—which continues to produce the festival—in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, DAS is hosted every two years at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Read more about Yasmin Nupur's Art from Politics in Bangladesh.

 


Past Events

Lectures

Artist Talks

Conferences, Workshops & Documentaries

Exhibitions  

 

Theater & Performing Arts   


 

BERKELEY ARTS + DESIGN

 

Berkeley Art Museum logo
Berkeley Art Museum

 

 

Arts Research Center logo
Arts Research Center

 

 

Dept. of History of Art logo
Dept. of History of Art

 

 

Dept. of Art Practice logo
Dept. of Art Practice

 

 

Berkeley Art Studio
Berkeley Art  Studio

 

 

Berkeley Center for New Media
Berkeley Center for New Media

 

 

Berkeley Institute of Design
Berkeley Institute of Design

 

 

Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab
Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab

 

 

Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities
Townsend Center

 

CITRIS Banatao Institute
CITRIS Invention Lab & CITRIS Tech Museum
Digital Humanities at Berkeley
Digital Humanities

  

Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation
Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

 

 

Center for New Music & Audio Technologies
Center for New Music & Audio Technologies

  

OTHER ART + DESIGN RELATED UC BERKELEY CAMPUS UNITS

Goals and Fundraising plans for the Institute's Initiative on Visual Art

-  Endowed Annual lecture series on South Asian Art -
-  Artist-in-residence Program  -
-  Graduate Student Fellowships  -
-  Collaborations with museums and universities in South Asia  -
-  Biennial International Conference on South Asian Art  -
-  Curating a modern art exhibition with Bay Area partners  -