External Links: Passion of Christ and Indian Art through the 20th Century

in Article
Published on: 19 April 2017

Jamini Roy


The Last Supper (1937–1940) at the Artsome



A. Ramachandran


Last Supper (1967) at Art of Ramachandran

‘In “The Last Supper”, Christ has been pushed under the table; all the disciples, then and in the subsequent centuries, are equally guilty of betrayal’ (Chaitanya 1994:312).



Krishen Khanna


Last Supper (1979) at Saffron Art

‘…the first in a series of images that explores New Testament stories’ creation of an atmosphere of love and interconnection among participants even as events conspire to tear them apart. …Choosing a Sufi-centered area of Delhi [Nizamuddin] … allows Khanna to transfer the resolution of the narrative to more local concerns. Specifically, tensions among Hindu and Muslim groups were on the rise in the late 1970s, and a Sikh separatist movement was growing in the Punjab.’ (Brown 2009:79–81)



MF Husain


Last Supper in Red (1991), in review of Sumathi Ramaswamy (ed.), Barefoot Across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India (2011), ‘The schizophrenia of a hieratic order dedicated to service (white robe), in love with power (robe of gold), the shattered table with the devil alone holding it up, the fallen angel, all point to man’s betrayal of Christ’s message and thereby of himself’ (Chaitanya 1994:311-12).




Krishen Khanna


Betrayal (1950) at Saffron Art

‘The Christian theme becomes a subaltern, Indian tragedy, of the outcome of conflict with figures of authority’ (Sinha 2001:135).



FN Souza


Crucifixion (1959) at the Tate Modern

‘The Roman Catholic Church had a tremendous influence over me, not its dogmas but its grand architecture and the splendor of its services. The priest dressed in richly embroidered vestments … the wooden saints painted with gold and bright colours, the wooden saints painted with gold and bright colours, staring vacantly out of their niches. The smell of incense. And the enormous crucifix with the impaled image of a man supposed to be the Son of God, scourged and dripping with the matted hair tangled in plaited thorns’ (Couto 2004: 257).



Suraj Ghai


Orgy at the Recurring Crucifixion (1993)

Ghai in an interview: ‘Today people are crucifying [Christ] by the act of orgy, by cruel enjoyment at the suffering of others.' Krishna Chaitanya refers to the picture being painted in the last week of 1992 ‘with memories still fresh and bitter of the debacle of December 6 in Ayodhya and the disaster in Bombay’ (Chaitanya 1994:312).


See also Paintings of the Crucifixion (with ‘stoic features’) by Jamini Roy at the Artsome, by Tyeb Mehta (1959) at Bonhams, and by Jehangir Sabawala (1999) at Art Bull India, Autumn Auction 2012, p. 41).



Krishen Khanna


Pietà (1978)

‘If you look here, Mary has been shown as defiant, pointing finger, as if asking, “Have you killed my son?” Mary is not sad.’ Interview with Shailaja Tripathi in The Hindu, June 3, 2013.



M.F. Hussain


Mother at Artsome

As for his extensive work on the image of Mother Teresa, he said, ‘I call her the eternal figure. She was the modern Madonna, who embraced the poor and the destitute as her own, for me she is a timeless figure; I will never get tired of painting her.’


F.N. Souza's Last Supper, Crucifixion and Resurrection



Sudarsan Pattnaik


Christ in The Telegraph  







Anand Amaladass S.J. and Gudrun Lowner, eds. 2012. Christian Themes in Indian Art: From the Mogul Times till Today. New Delhi: Manohar Publishing.



Brown, Rebecca M. 2009. Art for a Modern India, 1947–1980. Durham: Duke University Press.



Chaitanya, Krishna. 1994. A History of Indian Painting: The Modern Period. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.



Couto, Maria Aurora. 2004. Goa: A Daughter’s Story. New Delhi.



Sinha, Gayatri. 2001. Krishen Khanna: A Critical Biography. New Delhi: Vadehra Art Gallery.