T. V. Santhosh


Traces of an Ancient Error | New York, Rockefeller Plaza | oil on canvas-diptych | 152.4 x 304.8 cm



“These paintings remind us that, morally, we are where the action is; and the action is where we are.”

Nancy Adajania, critic, curator


T.V. Santhosh reinvents images of global conflict, terrorism, war and state oppression, appropriated from various media sources. He is best known for his large-scale photorealistic oil paintings—images rendered in bright neon colors, in which the darks and lights are reversed, like a color negative. The referents are as stark as the color contrasts: soldiers, blindfolded prisoners, homemade bombs and bomb-sniffing dogs, terrorists and barbed wire, each charged with the explicit and implicit violence of states and insurgents, borders and transgressions.  

Santhosh's works are often categorized as political, but, on a more fundamental level, they manifest a process of ethical and philosophical questioning. His paintings force viewers to confront the universality of human cause and consequence, no matter their perspective. “The first thing you do in the day is look at a newspaper, and every day there is a new bomb blast—some more people dead,” he said in an interview with ArtSlant. “So all I want to do is make a sort of investigation into the idea of ‘who is the real enemy’ and these everyday acts of violence and question why they are forever happening.”

Since the late 1990s, Santhosh has participated in many international exhibitions, at venues like the Singapore Art Museum; The Saatchi Gallery, in London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Shanghai; the Devi Art Foundation, in New Delhi; and the Royal Academy of Arts, in London. In 2012, he was the only Indian artist represented at the 11th Havana Biennial, in Cuba. His work has appeared in solo shows at the Jack Shainman Gallery, in New York; Nature Morte, in Berlin and New Delhi; and Aicon Gallery, in London, among others.

Santhosh was born in Kerala, India, and studied sculpture at Kalabhavana, Shantiniketan, in West Bengal, and The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, where he received a B.F.A. and M.F.A., respectively. He lives and works in Mumbai.


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Works by T. V. Santhosh

Specialists in South Asian Modern+Contemporary Art at Christie's

  • Deepanjana D. Klein PhD
    • South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
    • New York
    • International Head of Department
    • dklein@christies.com
    • +1 212 636 2189
  • Sonal Singh

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