The Imaginary Institution of India: Art 1975-1998

5 October 2024 to 5 January 2025 Barbican Centre

Gieve Patel, Off Lamington Road, 1982-86. Collection: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi © Gieve Patel. Courtesy Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.

First major survey of pioneering Indian art 1975-1998

In the autumn of 2024, the Barbican will present The Imaginary Institution of India: Art 1975-1998, the world’s first major exhibition of Indian art to explore and chart a period of significant cultural and political change in the country. Organised in partnership with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, this significant group show will feature over 25 artists and nearly 150 works from across a range of media, including many that will be shown in the UK for the first time.

The declaration of the State of Emergency by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and the Pokhran Nuclear Tests in 1998 serve as bookends for a time when artists combined social observation with individual expression and innovation. They addressed issues relating to gender and sexuality, communal politics, urbanisation and changing class structures, and engaged with indigenous and vernacular modes of expression. Spanning painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and film, the exhibition will offer a unique view of this shifting socio-political landscape while exploring key practices within Indian art during the late 20th century.

Participating artists include Jyoti Bhatt, Rameshwar Broota, Sheba Chhachhi, Sheela Gowda, Rummana Hussain, Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani, Meera Mukherjee, Madhvi Parekh, Navjot, Gieve Patel, Sudhir Patwardhan, Himmat Shah, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Arpita Singh, Vivan Sundaram, J. Swaminathan, Jangarh Singh Shyam, Savi Sawarkar, N.N. Rimzon and more.

The Imaginary Institution of India: Art 1975-1998 will be accompanied by an integral film programme in Barbican Cinemas which will respond to the themes of the exhibition.

The Imaginary Institution of India: Art 1975-1998 completes the Barbican’s 2024 visual arts programme, forming a season which looks across borders exploring intimacy and queer desire, contemplating and confronting resistance, solidarity and protest, and dwelling on the universal joy of children at play, alongside extraordinary new commissions from international artists transforming Barbican’s public spaces and architecture.

Full Barbican Visual Arts 2024 programme

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art
Barbican Art Gallery - 13 February – 26 May 2024

Soufiane Ababri: Their mouths were full of bumblebees but it was me who was pollinated
The Curve - 13 March – 30 June 2024

Ibrahim Mahama: Purple Hibiscus
Barbican Lakeside - 10 April – 18 August 2024

Francis Alÿs
Barbican Art Gallery - 27 June – 1 September 2024

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum
The Curve - 18 September 2024 – 5 January 2025

Barbican Art Gallery
5 October 2024 – 5 January 2025

Further information:Welcome to the Barbican | Barbican