Artists India

Homophobic attack in New Delhi gallery

Assault on gay artist sparks fears of a new fundamentalist campaign

The artist Balbir Krishan was attacked at an exhibition of his homoerotic paintings in New Dehli

A homophobic attack on a gay artist earlier this month at a gallery in New Delhi has prompted fears that extremist Hindu groups are waging a new campaign against radical art and artists in India. The assault took place during an exhibition of paintings depicting homoerotic scenes by the artist Balbir Krishan at the state-run gallery Lalit Kala Akademi. An unidentified masked individual entered the gallery, tore one of Krishan’s paintings and struck the artist on the head with a blunt object. The attacker subsequently fled and has not been arrested, but a report has been lodged. No Hindu group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Krishan, who lost both his legs in a train accident 15 years ago, said that the attacker also shouted: “We taught a good lesson to [artist] M.F. Husain too. If you don’t stop, you’ll get the same dose." Husain was a key proponent of the Progressive Artists' group in the 1940s, attaining superstar status in the sub-continent. The artist, who died in London last year, left India in 2006 following a campaign begun in the mid-1990s by Hindu fundamentalists—at home and abroad—against his depictions of nude Hindu goddesses. Krishan said that he had also received several anonymous phone calls, with one caller stating: “You are determined to ruin Hinduism.”

Krishan dedicated the show to Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003), India’s best known gay artist, who explored the subject of homosexuality in his works with references to Hindu scriptures. The exhibition later transferred to Triveni Kala Sangam, a private gallery, where the show ended without disruption.

Ashok Vajpeyi, the former chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi, condemned the attack, telling the Dehli-based English-language newspaper The Sunday Guardian: “This is a violation of an artist’s freedom of expression. Every person, including the attacker, is entitled to their own opinion. But to physically harm [someone] to [get them to] accept your point of view is downright wrong.”


The show was later transferred to the private gallery Triveni Kala Sangam and ended without disruption
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Comments

8 Mar 13
16:39 CET

ALAY MISTARY, AHMEDABAD

I am a sculptor artist from gujarat ahmedabad,in 1997 diploma in sculpture from kala kendra college of fine arts,awards 2007 lalit kaka academy ahmedabad gujarat & other,my work his in frp,metal & other meterial my sub his animals & nature, i have done so many group show & one man show,my mob 09925344184,send me reply to do my best thanks

30 Jan 12
22:48 CET

GUY BURCH, LONDON

Sunil Gupta and Krishan are gradually stretching boundaries in India but inevitably medieval ignorance and religious bigotry are vociferous ind shouting about its dangers. They are also the quickest to require immunity from the usual respect for individual freedom. Most commercial galleries are still conservative on this subject so I applaud the gallery for showing Balbir Krishan’s beautiful and serious work.

30 Jan 12
14:55 CET

EDGAR DEMELLO, BENGALURU

Ones sexuality is a private matter. Any art, gay or straight, requires the public domain. Mr Balbir Krishnan's is a courageous act in our homophobic society.

26 Jan 12
22:54 CET

JOHAN-M. VAN DE WALLE, LOPPEM BELGIUM

do not / never give up ! go on, its our human right ! And, Art is a spiritual language depicting ideas and feelings in a way words cannot. Best greets, johan,

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