Review of Asian Studies Volume 18 (2016) 213-222 Richardson: Subramanyan

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Subramanyan’s concept of eclecticism, like his concept of modernism, is reformulated from its common meaning. Downplaying the pejorative character of eclecticism as a mismatched conglomeration of styles, Subramanyan instead defines eclecticism as "the interaction, and maybe the reconciliation, of different cultural forms."8 As cultures come into contact with one another as a result of expanding technology, the modern artist is exposed to many dissimilar artistic and cultural forms, techniques, and concepts out of context and often as fragments. Subramanyan explains that this eclecticism in art can in fact be an important tool in the renewal or reanimation of culture.

Eschewing the commonly used postcolonial term hybridity, Subramanyan offers the term eclectic to characterize cultural forms that are not necessarily absorbed into a hybrid mutation or completely replaced but interact and exist simultaneously. This eclecticism is an important concept for a country like India where throughout its history many different cultural and religious practices and forms have developed and been introduced, adapted, and continue to exist side by side. In light of this eclectic situation, the acceptance of both foreign influence and the cultivation of indigenous aspects in art are possible. For Subramanyan, accepting modern culture as eclectic is one of the first steps to finding what he terms "an internal solution" to the "identity crisis" that marks much of post-colonial Indian art.9 Identifying eclecticism as a condition of contemporary life, Subramanyan again supplies a broader vocabulary to accommodate contemporary art outside of the West. Furthermore, he conceives of a way in which artists can practically manage this modern eclectic situation.

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