Loyola College, Chennai had to issue an apology on Monday following protests by BJP leaders and members of the right wing for displaying  ‘derogatory paintings’ mocking Hinduism during a college festival.

Legal action was demanded by BJP and its affiliates with BJP national secretary H Raja citing that the exhibition which was held to honor folk artists and groups from Tamil Nadu is nothing but a conspiracy to defame Hinduism.

“At Chennai’s Loyola College, VCK, Communists, Naxalites, and Christians, who are trying to change people’s religion, and other evil forces have come together and are conspiring against Hindu religion and they are launching an attack against the nation. A complaint has been filed with the police regarding this. The PM and Hindu religion have been portrayed in a derogatory manner. And action must be taken against this.”


Facing unflagging attacks, a faculty of the Loyola College faculty issued an apology removing the exhibits after the respected authorities were notified.

Loyola College Paintings
Apology letter issued by the administration of Loyola College

The Painter and the Contentious Paintings

Bhakts and Sanghis on Twitter started attacking the painter named Mukilan who used paintings to portray atrocities against women, “honor killings”, Rafael deal and many other issues facing the system.

Was politicization of the meaning behind the paintings necessary at times like these when artists should be given the creative space to use their imaginations in depicting hot topics pervading the nation in a manner they seem fit?

Loyola College paintings
The painter behind objectionable paintings

I still remember the time when MF Hussain’s paintings incited outrage from the extremists for painting nude pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses.

What the extremists fail to see is that such paintings spring from traditions established earlier and you cannot impose restrictions on one’s inventiveness and imagination which when comes into play can break taboos or predisposed premises.

Loyola College paintings
One of the objectionable paintings on display showing the ironical fate of justice in India

And the artist who has been slammed in the wake of rising intolerance in the country never even made an attempt to start a religious war declaring the superiority of Christians or any other religion over Hinduism. He was exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression.

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Stop Apologizing For Your Art And Difference In Opinions

Saying no for other people and rejecting your expression before someone else does is completely unnecessary as people who attack us feed on our fears and insecurities.

What was so wrong in the paintings that raised an undue hue and cry?

One of the artworks was criticized for depicting Bharat Mata to the victim of the Me Too movement.  Another painting showing Prime Minister Modi languishing in a cot stretched between an American flag and a Trishul faced the backlash from right-wing followers.

I think the administration shouldn’t have apologized for the greater good. You cannot deem any representation wrong only because it differs from the opinions held by hardcore Hindutva activists or proponents of Hinduism and supporters of Modiji.

Loyola College paintings
Objectionable paintings on display that were removed after protests

There is a revolutionary impact of expression through paintings or any art. If people start apologizing for bothering someone or use self-deprecating comments about their work, it’s a bad deal.

I understand that the administration of Loyola College didn’t want to get into any controversy especially at such times when dissent is slapped with jail-term and merciless killings followed by violence in the name of saving our culture and values.

This is yet another example of the state machinery to silence dissent following the detention of an Imphal-based journalist Kishore Chandra Wangkhem after he posted a Facebook video criticizing Chief Minister N Biren Singh for acting as a puppet in the hands of Modiji as he organized a function marking the birth anniversary of Rani Lakshmi Bai.

Everyone has the right to seek accountability from the State or Centre and fascist forces should be condemned for attacking anyone challenging their warped narratives.

Sources: The Indian Express, NDTV, Goinswriter and others

Image Credits: Google Images

You can follow the blogger at @dhar_aatreyee

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