Born 1975, Kolkata, India.

Debanjan Roy is engaged in an ongoing process to articulate the changing social realities of day-to-day India. He has produced a series of works which take Gandhi ostensibly as their subject but this is a Gandhi who is seen holding or interacting with incommensurably contemporary objects; a cell-phone or an iPod for example. This incommensurability is at the heart of Roy’s project – how do we square India’s history with its present and its future?

Roy is part of a generation of artists who has witnessed India’s transformation into a nascent global superpower and like many, is keen to interrogate this process. Also of interest for Roy is the rise of the Indian middle class, and its social and environmental ramifications among others. Others of his generation use the signifiers of Indian domesticity (steel utensils in Subodh Gupta’s work for example) in order to generate a dissonance between material and statement. Roy uses the key figure in 20th century Indian history – Gandhi is used as a signifier of the history of India, a history of resistance and self-emancipation. His language is pop – he is one of the few Indian artists operating at the moment whose visual idiom very deliberately reference Pop Art, with his shiny repeated figures of Gandhi recalled Oldenburg’s outsized signs of American culture or Warhol’s repetition of American icons, most obviously, Marilyn Monroe. If Warhol’s repetition of Marilyn emptied out her face of its personal qualities, mirroring perhaps the emptying processes of celebrity, then Roy’s repetition of Gandhi empties Gandhi of reverence. Instead he is seen posed in increasingly confused, yet happy poses – a large bird perches on his head in one of Roy’s works. Yet Roy seems to be ambivalent about what this process means – his use of ‘India Shining’ repeatedly in his titles does not suggest a whole-hearted belief in the rhetoric of India’s march to global superpower.

The artist lives and works in Kolkata, India.


1998 Bachelor of Visual Arts from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata
2000 Master of Visual Arts from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata

Select Solo Exhibitions

2013-14 The Altar of Convenience, Aicon Gallery, New York
2010 Looking for Bapu, Gallery Akar Prakar, Kolkata; L & P Hutheesing Centre,
2009 Experiments with Truth, Aicon Gallery, New York
2007 Gandhara Gallery, Kolkata
2002 Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata

Select Group Exhibitions

2011 Reprise, Aicon Gallery, New York
2010 Art Dubai 2010, presented by Aicon Gallery, New York
ARCO 2010 Madrid, presented by Aicon Gallery, London
Who Has Seen Gandhi?, presented by Tangerine Art Space at Raj Bhavan;
Kynkyny Art Gallery and Tangerine Art Space, Bangalore
Artifact, Gensler, San Francisco
2009 Shapeshifter, Aicon Gallery, London
Pulse New York, presented by Aicon, New York
The Human Animal, jointly presented by Gallery Threshold and Arts I
(Religare Arts Initiative) at Gallery Threshold, New Delhi
2008 Who Knew? Mr. Gandhi, Aicon Gallery, London
The Road to Contemporary Art, Art Fair, Rome
2007 Eastern Edge, Aicon Gallery, New York
2005 New Wave in Bengal Art, Gallery Akar Prakar, Kolkata
2004 Tale of Two Cities, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, Mumbai
and Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi
2003 Migration, City, Home, Lalit Kala Academy, Kolkata
2001 Japan Triennial
Award Winners Exhibition, HK Kejriwal Foundation, Bangalore
2000 Annual Exhibition, West Bengal State Academy
Annual Exhibition, All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS), New Delhi
1999 – 2000 Annual Exhibition, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata
1994 – 2000 Annual Exhibition, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata

Awards and Scholarships

2007 Navonmesha Puruskar, Kolkata
2004 Nirman Award
2002 – 2003 Lalit Kala Academy Scholarship.
2002 – 2004 Junior Fellowship from Ministry of Tourism and Culture,
Government of India
2001 HK Kejriwal Foundation Young Artist Award
2000 Best Sculpture Award by West Bengal State Academy
Best Sculpture Award by Rabindra Bharati University
1999 Best Sculpture Award by Rabindra Bharati University
1996 Certificate of Merit from Inter University Competition