Royal Ontario Museum launches new South Asia lecture

Sidharth Bhatia

ON Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will launch its first annual South Asia Lecture featuring a thought-provoking presentation by Mumbai-based journalist and founding editor of The Wire Sidharth Bhatia, and Canadian mixed-media artist Panchal Mansaram, whose work has recently been acquired by the Museum. 

The inaugural event features a lecture on Art, Culture and Journalism by Bhatia followed by a conversation between the journalist and Mansaram, moderated by Dr. Deepali Dewan, Dan Mishra Curator of South Asian Art and Culture. The evening will also include a short documentary screening that highlights the 50-year career of Mansaram to mark the Museum’s recent acquisition of more than 700 of his works for its permanent collection. 

Panchal Mansaram,

Bhatia’s keynote lecture examines the role of culture and journalism in India and the world today and its influence on modern society. Says Josh Basseches, ROM Director and CEO, “We’re very pleased to be launching the annual South Asian lecture, which builds on the ROM’s position as a centre of scholarship and expertise, and deepens our ties with the South Asian community. With these lectures, ROM brings important voices in art and culture to the stage and fresh perspectives to timely issues that shape the world we live in.”

This lecture series aims to bring a cultural innovator from the South Asia region to Canada each year. South Asia is one of the most rapidly changing and growing regions in the world today. 

The recent acquisition of Mansaram’s archive makes the Museum home to the most complete catalogue of the artist’s work that is based in the technique of collage. This includes large-scale paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, fabric works, and computer manipulations. The archive also includes a collection of source material such as popular and folk art from India.

Having migrated with his family to Canada from India in 1966, Mansaram gravitated towards collage as a medium that reflected his experience as a diaspora artist. His interest in popular images and the power of media in daily life led him to form a close friendship with renowned cultural theorist and University of Toronto professor Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980). Rear View Mirror #74, a collage piece based on McLuhan’s writings on media-saturated culture, is the only known collaboration between Mansaram and McLuhan, and now a significant part of the ROM’s collection. This work, along with several others, will be on display at the event. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Panchal Mansaram’s works as an important enhancement of the ROM’s permanent South Asia collection, one that reflects a global and more pluralistic history of modernism,” says Dr. Deepali Dewan, Dan Mishra Curator of South Asian Art and Culture. “As an experimental, ever-evolving contemporary artist with roots in India and Canada, Mansaram’s diasporic identity broadens our understanding of Indian modernism and Canadian art history. We are excited to share his legacy with Canadians and international visitors from around the world.” 

The ROM’s Annual South Asia Lecture is supported by the Ancient Echoes, Modern Voices South Asia Programs Fund. 

For tickets to the ROM’s Inaugural Annual South Asia Lecture Art, Culture, and Journalism, please visit

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