Remembering Vivan Sundaram: A journey through images 

Remembering Vivan Sundaram: A journey through images Ashish Rajadhyaksha

January 11, 2024 12:38 pm | Updated January 26, 2024 03:39 pm IST

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Vivan Sundaram, one of India’s pioneering multidisciplinary artists, breathed his last on the morning of March 29, 2023. He was 79.

Sundaram was born in Shimla on May 28, 1943, to Kalyan Sundaram, former chairman of Law Commission of India, and Indira Sher-Gil, sister of noted Indian modern artist Amrita Sher-Gil. He studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda (1961–65) and at the Slade School of Art, London (1966–68) where he also studied History of Cinema. He participated in the students’ movement of May 1968, he helped set up a commune in London where he lived till 1970. He returned to India in 1971 and worked with artists’ and students’ groups to organise events and protests, especially during the Emergency.

Over the years, Sundaram moved from painting to creating art using various mediums, including photographs, videos and sculptural installations. He has been widely credited for his role in developing installation as a practice in India. Over the years, he has participated in several exhibitions and had solo shows in many cities across the world. Since 1990 he made several installations that included sculpture, photographs, and videos. He was one of 30 artists specially commissioned to make new work to mark the Sharjah Biennial’s 30th anniversary edition.

He was the editor of a two-volume book, Amrita Sher-Gil: A Self-Portrait in Letters and Writings, published in 2010; and managing trustee, with his sister Navina Sundaram, of the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation (SSAF), set up in 2016.

In this session, film historian, author and occasional art curator Ashish Rajadhyaksha remembers the contribution of Vivan Sundaram. He has written several books, including John-Ghatak-Tarkovsky: Citizens, Filmmakers, Hackers, Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema (with Paul Willemen), Indian Cinema from the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to the Emergency and other books.

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