A Conversation of the Indian Artists with the Cosmos


Earlier, in the initial stages of evolution, most of the time was spent in chewing hostile food and finding it. After some million years, man learned to start the fire which gave him food and he learned how to establish civilizations. When he was secure and safe, he had time to ponder upon his surroundings. From his imagination, he stared at the marvels of creation and started making his own.

Here, we will talk about those Indian artists who have evolved in their imagination and reached the stars.

Rohini Devasher

One of the daredevils among the Indian artists is artists Rohini Devasher who is known for capturing eclipses across the country. After her trysts with the eclipses were done, she opted to visit some of the most revered sites in the field of Indian astronomy. The Indian Astronomical Observatory situated at Ladakh is famous among astronomers for being the second-highest optical telescope in the world. It is situated at 14,500 feet above the sea level in one of the most beautiful villages of Ladakh known as Hanle.

Her conversation with the cosmos resulted in ‘Parts Unknown: Making the Familiar Strange’. It is the group of seven videos installed in a drawing that looks like the Pleiades. It is an open star cluster that is nearest to earth and visible to the naked eye in the night. It is a part of the constellation of Taurus. The aestheticism of Hanle with these universal patterns created something familiar into something strange.

The first showcase of the Parts Unknown was displayed at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in the year 2012. She visited the display in the year 2016 when it was installed at the Spencer Museum of Art in the city of Kansas, U.S.A. She got inspired to recreate and reimagine this in her way. She is famous for her exceptional talent to merge astronomy with art.

She frequents the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope which is situated near Pune in the Indian state of Maharashtra and the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory which is situated at Ayrshire in Scotland.

In an interview conducted by Livemint when asked upon her eclectic style of subject matter, she observed,”All these trips were extraordinary. These sites, hidden away from civilization, are almost symbolic of the individuals that populate them. Astronomers escape the city as often as possible to find the stars, unspoiled and untouched. Astronomy offers that form of escape, far from people and places.”

Subodh Gupta

According to him, astronomers and the artists are the same. They both look out for the heavens for answers they want answers to. There are many checkpoints where astronomy and art meet. In essence, all the disciplines are connected as they all emerged from the man’s power of speculation i.e. philosophy. Both the astronomers and the artists consider contemplating the questions about the existence of this whole universe and the purpose of one’s existence.

In the ancient world, the sky was a connection between the heaven and the earth. For all the answers, the man looked out for stars. This is evident from the various mythologies that say how heavenly battles were fought between the Asuras and the Devas for the control of the heavenly abode of devas. Artists were influenced by mythologies and scientific advancement equally. They were mesmerized by the patterns of the dance of the cosmos.

Raqs Media Collective

Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Jeebesh Baagchi co-founded the ‘Raqs Media Collective’ to incubate and follow the trends of art that have influenced deeply the contemporary culture of art in India. They also hold that Galileo Galilei has deeply impacted the thought process of artists across the globe.

In an interview conducted through email by Livemint, Raqs wrote, “When he dared to postulate a heliocentric understanding of space, he didn’t just contribute to astronomy. He transformed the way people understood hierarchy, stability, and change. This was a revolutionary transformation of the world.”

Raqs curated an exhibition that was featured at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona or the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art on 31st October in the year 2018. The name of the exhibition was ‘In The Open Or In Stealth’. Here is the list of artists that were invited:-


  1. Jeamin Cha
  2. Mark Chung
  3. Rohini Devasher
  4. Marzia Farhana
  5. Liao Fei
  6. Ivana Franke
  7. John Gerrard
  8. Rupali Gupte
  9. Prasad Shetty
  10. Abhishek Hazra
  11. Geumhyung Jeong
  12. Hassan Khan
  13. Charles Lim
  14. Cristina Lucas
  15. Kabelo Malatsie
  16. Dillon Marsh
  17. Huma Mulji
  18. Mehreen Murtaza
  19. Joe Nishizawa
  20. Rosa Barba

Thus, the relationship between man and stars go back to millions of pages that we can’t deny. They will never fail to intrigue us. Many mysteries are beyond the comprehension of the human mind. But, nothing is bigger than the imagination of an artist!

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