Counter-protest for nude artwork

Peaceful demonstrators respond to VHP threat against exhibition

Organisers of the Delhi Art Gallery, which is running a nude painting exhibition, held a peaceful protest on Wednesday against relentless objection by the women wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The VHP women wing is demanding to ban the exhibition.

“Several people from the art fraternity joined us, including Manu Parekh, Ram Rehman and Chintan Upadhayay. The show is still on,” said an organiser of the art event.

The exhibition titled ‘The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art’ has some 250 paintings. “They are the works of artists known for their exploration and celebration of the body, such as F N Souza, M F Husain, K H Ara and K Laxma Goud, among others,” said a statement by the art gallery on its website.

The exhibition will end on March 15.

“This peaceful protest was to counteract the growing threat and intolerance to India’s liberal traditions. The VHP women’s wing protesters could not enter the gallery. There were a handful of them, and they were taken away by police,” said the organiser.
VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal called the government and police “blind” in not acting sternly against nudity depicted in the paintings.

“We have been trying to ban this exhibition. But it seems the government and police will not do much about it. There is a meeting on Thursday, where it will be decided whether we will take legal action in the matter,” said Bansal.

According the VHP, the paintings objectifies and commodifies women. “When atrocities against women in Delhi are rising, such paintings are a deterrent to the real values of our tradition,” said a VHP member.

A statement by the gallery said the exhibition explores a popular thematic concept in art, that of the human body and how artists have looked at it historically as a part of their narrative. “This exploration has been a part of the tradition in the West as well as in India. It is also a part of national heritage and is represented by the country’s great masters,” said the statement.

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