Jesal Thacker 



Jesal Thacker is an artist by training, but she chose to pursue scholarship in art instead of art practice. A graduate with a degree in painting from Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, she engages with research on modern and contemporary Indian art.

In 2005, she set up Bodhana, a not-for-profit organisation that would fulfill her vision of researching and publishing books on Indian art. She has curated several notable exhibitions, the first of which combined paintings and literary texts by Shankar Palshikar, Vasudev Gaitonde, Prabhakar Barwe and Vasant Wankhede. Prabhakar Kolte — a walk through his thoughts and art, a show of his portraits, canvases, drawings, archival lectures and videos, was another important show curated by her. She has also served as a Curatorial Director for Percept Art from 2012 to 2015, where she curated some remarkable exhibitions: Prabhakar Barwe’s retrospective, tracing his works through his entire creative career from 1955 to 1995, accompanied with the release of the book Blank Canvas; Rupa Arupa was a show tracing form and formlessness in Indian traditional art; Moving Images was an exhibition of artworks by Madhav Imaratey accompanied with screenings of films by and about John Cage and a series of video art by Bill Viola, making a crucial amalgamation of varied genres a part of her curatorial approach. Another exhibition of note that she curated was Dissonance — Transgressed Boundaries between Desire and Fear, a multi-disciplinary show with artists Nezaket Ekici, Prajakta Palav and Nita Tandon. A remarkable initiative during her tenure was Conversations, Criticisms and Appreciation — a series of talks and presentations by a panel of eminent artists and art critics, which became an essential aspect of all the shows she curated. She assisted Ranjit Hoskote for the first India Pavilion participation in the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and Bose Krishnamachari for the first Yinchuan Biennale 2016, For an Image Faster than Light.

Jesal has a passion for investigating, and questions history with the purpose of re-contextualising it constantly. She is engaged in studying the history of India’s modernism with a focus on abstraction, and in renewing the art history of this period with appropriate scholarship and meticulous archives. She is especially interested in studying the abstract movement in India and around the world and their close associations with eastern philosophy and mystical concepts. Sound, Abstraction and Cognition are her pursuits, along with a deep interest in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. Bodhana’s emerging programs in the area of art therapy as well as contemporary sound art practice are passionately driven by her.

Well exposed to movements in the global art space as well as to the writers and historians contributing to the field, she has her perspective and opinions about the way ahead. She is trusted by the community of connoisseurs in India for her reading of the historical importance as well as the authenticity of various works. She is known for maintaining rigorous archives of each of the artists who are a part of Bodhana’s research. She is well-poised to shape the field in the coming years and is also well known as a specialist art consultant in Modern and Contemporary Indian art.