"The West tends to be proprietorial about Modernism, treating it as a Euro-American invention copied, in inferior versions, by the rest of the world. But more and more this view has come to look parochial and wrong. In recent years historians have been studying the reality of multiple (sometimes referred to as alternative) modernisms that developed in Africa, Asia and South America parallel with, or sometimes in advance of, what was happening in Europe.
Viewers coming to these works for the first time, knowing little about their history or context, may well see traces of European Modernism in them before anything else. It takes some looking and exposure to information to get beyond that and see what is really happening in these paintings. They aren’t about copying; they’re about artists making choices, trying out options, pursuing some, rejecting others, taking what they know and adding to it, editing it, blurring lines between South Asian and Western, shaping something distinctive from the sources used.
It’s great that the Rubin, a small institution with limited resources but imaginative thinking, has brought us exhibitions like ['Radical Terrain'
] and its two predecessors. Even together, though, these shows can only hint at the full history of global modernism, or modernisms, that everyone now knows is the true story of modern art. It’s a story that has yet to make its way into our big museums, but surely that day must come."
— Holland Cotter, South Asia Through Modernist Binoculars: ‘Radical Terrain’ at the Rubin Museum of Art, December 27, 2012