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Abstract

This article attempts to reclaim the status of women artists of South India by a process of recovery and inclusion. The aspect of their marginalisation from mainstream art and subsequent disappearance from the annals of Indian art history has been examined. Further, the reasons for this disappearance are investigated in terms of the overarching notion of gender, embedded in social and cultural parameters. The article locates the manner in which these women artists are affected by familial, institutional and social systems and explores the experiences of the women artists in terms of their multiple roles. This can lead to an understanding of the negotiated spaces of private and public domains, which form the paradigms of art practice and are crucial to the expression of women artists.

The critique seeks to register the presence of women artists in South India (which is comprised of four states, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala) from the twentieth century and their contributions. It essentially offers insights into the roles played by the artists and their status not only in terms of gender but also culture and identity and examines the transformations achieved by women artists in South India over the years and the position they occupy. Though Indian Art has grown in international stature and has gained a global visibility today, women artists remain underrepresented in many areas such as major curated shows, international expositions, triennales, and wards of international, national and regional prizes and scholarships. At the national level, South India continues to register minimally in the mainstream of modern Indian art. The study observes how the women artists’ existence in the art world has largely been shown as secondary to that of their male counterparts and that their expressions were not considered ‘good enough’ to be included in mainstream art.

Note on the Author

Lakshmi Priya joined the Department of Fine Arts, Stella Maris (Autonomous) College, Chennai in 1996 as a lecturer. She has also served as guest faculty in institutions like National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai. She received her doctoral degree in 2013 from the University of Madras. She has published several articles and has co-edited a book. Her areas of research interest are Ancient and Modern Indian Art, Gender and Art. She is a practicing artist and has participated in group shows. Her works are in private collections in India and abroad.

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