Across a twenty-year practice, Chitra Ganesh has developed an expansive body of work rooted in drawing and painting, which has evolved to encompass animations, wall drawings, collages, computer generated imagery, video, and sculpture. Through a multidisciplinary approach, Ganesh 'constantly attempts to challenge patriarchal norms and empower her female and queer subjects by constructing alternate visual narratives' [1], while drawing on South Asian visual traditions as well as canonical and contemporary feminist and queer scholarship.  

Ganesh's oeuvre is informed by her studies in literature and semiotic theory, and rich histories of public art and graphic design in India. In detailed works, Ganesh combines a vast array of influences including South Asian iconography, science fiction and queer theory, drawing upon visual tropes of vintage comics, anime, and film posters. In nonlinear narratives and richly layered worlds, Ganesh subverts traditional storytelling to open up speculative narratives where queer and femme protagonists actively shape their futures.  


Ganesh's explorations of mythologies and narrative traditions bring important historical conversations to the contemporary moment. In nonlinear narratives and richly layered visual worlds, Ganesh subverts traditional storytelling to create women and queer centric narratives of the future. She draws out alternative depictions of sexuality and power from popular stories and histories, highlighting the accounts of female protagonists, which have often been subsumed or marginalized by plot lines that reproduce the contours of majoritarian power. In Ganesh's work, women and queer characters become the protagonists, actively shaping their futures. She encourages the viewer to see what was always there - what was once in the 'margins of a mythic history'[2] is brought to the foreground.  

One of her earliest works, Tales of Amnesia (2002), takes the form of a 24-page comic book and installation exploring the Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Picture Stories) - a widely disseminated Indian comic book series, initiated in 1967 as an educational tool to teach stories from Indian folklore and fables in a mass mediated, popular form. In Ganesh's bold departure, her work critiques subtexts of racial, religious, casteist, patriarchal and socio-economic prejudices, while rendering historically marginal figures as central actors that exceed formal conventions of representation. Multiverse Dreaming (2020-2021) is a series of digital prints also inspired by Amar Chitra Katha. Here Ganesh presents nonlinear narratives that focus on themes of reflection, regeneration, togetherness, and desire in times of uncertainty.[3] The work has been exhibited in solo shows at Mildred Lane Kemper Museum, St Louis, MO (2022) and at Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami, FL, USA (2023).   

The Scorpion Gesture, commissioned by the Rubin Museum of Art, NY in 2018, has been shown in several distinct iterations, including at the Kochi Biennial, India and in Times Square's longstanding digital exhibition, Midnight Moment. The Scorpion Gesture refers to a mudra - a traditional Tibetan hand gesture said to have 'unlimited power and potential for transformation.' Ganesh's 2022 animation with music by Saul Williams Before the War, interweaves hand drawn figurative imagery with archival footage from Indian silent films, contemporary news imagery, Buddhist iconography, and South-Asian pictorial forms. Debuted at the Hawai'i Triennial 2022, the animation has been shown internationally at Cement Fondu, Paddington, Australia (2023); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, USA (2022); and Kemper Museum of Art, St Louis, MO, USA (2022), Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, FL, USA.  In 2022, her significant survey exhibition spanning twenty years opened at Contemporary Calgary, Canada. Ganesh's imaginative dreamscapes invite audiences to step into her multiverse, encouraging us to ask deeper questions rather than providing us with answers.  


Ganesh's work has been widely exhibited in the United States and internationally, including solo shows at Brooklyn Museum, NY, USA; MoMA PS1, NY, USA; The Kitchen, NY, USA; Contemporary Calgary, Canada; The Rubin Museum of Art, NY, USA; The Andy Warhol Museum, PA, USA; and Gothenburg Kunsthalle, Sweden. Her work has also been exhibited in important group exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, USA; the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD, USA; The Queens Museum of Art, NY, USA; The Bronx Museum, NY, USA; The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, USA; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, CA, USA; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA, USA; the Boca Raton Museum of Art, LA, USA; the Hayward Gallery, London, UK; New Art Gallery Walsall, UK; Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Italy; Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Italy; the ZKM Center for Art and Media, Germany; Göteborgs Konsthall, Germany; Arthotek Kunstverein, Göttingen, Germany; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China; the Gwangju Contemporary Arts Centre, Korea; the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, India; Indira Ghandi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi, India; Devi Art Foundation, India; MAP Museum of Art and Photography, Bangalore, India; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea, among others. Her work has been included in many international biennials, including the Kochi Biennial, India; the Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Hawai'i Triennial; Asian Art Biennial, Taichung, Taiwan; and the Sydney Biennial, among others.   

Ganesh's work is represented in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, NY, USA; Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA, USA; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, USA; The Brooklyn Museum, NY, USA; The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; The Ford Foundation, NY, USA; University of Michigan Museum of Art, MI, USA; The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, PA, USA; the Devi Art Foundation, India; Kiran Nadar Museum, Delhi, India; the Saatchi Collection, London, UK; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; Gwangju Contemporary Art Museum, South Korea; Deutsche Bank, among others.  

Ganesh is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including a a Ford Foundation Individual Artist Grant (2022) Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2021), Art Matters Grant (2020) and many others including the Pollock Krasner Foundation (2018); the Hodder Fellowship from the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University (2017); the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the Creative Arts (2012); the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painters and Sculptors (2010).   


[1] Meera Menezes, Art Asia Pacific, May/Jun 2023  

[2] Shah, Svati P. (2011) Knowing the Unknowns: The Artwork of Chitra Ganesh, Feminist Studies Volume 37 p122