'Jinnah plotting Partition' is a decoupage comprising cut-out portraits based on photographs of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on a Nathdwara watercolour background depicting a garden and a stately home in Rajput architectural style. Mother India forms a triad with them, while cut-outs of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and others are shrunk in scale and placed near the fountain, seeming to conspire against a united India. The map of undivided British India includes present-day Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh and a Mother India emerges from a third eye, carrying the Indian Flag. The medium and the method used was popular during the 1940s in India and we attribute it to Nathdwara, where miniature painters would copy perspectives borrowed from Western academic painting, using photographic references for landscapes that would then be populated by decoupaged images of gods
The exhibition from the Clark House curatorial archive gives credence to a trajectory of art historical scholarship, from Partha Mitter to Jyotindra Jain and Tapati Guha-Thakurta, who subtly interpreted the collapse of visual iconographies of nationalism, fundamentalism, and religious pantheons. The exhibition plays with the chronologies of mediums gaining popularity in India, as put forward by writers like Girish Shahane, from the hand-painted photograph to paintings inspired by photo-journalism, and anachronistically, later by the European Renaissance. The exhibition is also a careful look at a mixture of styles within works: where hunted deer, or fighter planes stylistically differ from the pastoral landscapes that surround them. Toying with calibrations of what has been previously debated, the exhibition adds new iconographies into the fray, from lesser known contemporaries of the better known studios.