Dr Chaitanya Sambrani

MA (Fine): MSU, Baroda; PhD : ANU
Senior Lecturer, Centre for Art History and Art Theory
College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61261258402

Areas of expertise

  • Art History 190102
  • Asian History 210302
  • Art Theory And Criticism 1901
  • Postcolonial Studies 200211
  • Curatorial And Related Studies 2102

Research interests

Modern and Contemporary Art in Asia

Art and the nation, art practice and belonging

Transnational and cosmopolitan histories of art 

Contemporary art's relationships with traditional practice

Art, architecture and urbanity


Chaitanya Sambrani is interested in linkages between modern art and nationhood in Asia, as well as contemporary art's relationships with tradition. His work has been featured in exhibitions, conferences and publications internationally, including in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, UK and USA. Chaitanya's language skills in addition to English include fluency in Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati, conversational German and Urdu, elementary Bahasa Indonesia and textual Sanskrit and Pali. 

His major curatorial projects include Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India (touring seven museum venues in Australia, USA, Mexico and India over 2004-07); Place.Time.Play: Contemporary Art from the West Heavens to the Middle Kingdom (the first ever contemporary art exchange between artists from China and India, Shanghai, 2010); To Let the World In: narrative and beyond in contemporary Indian art (Art Chennai Festival of Art, 2012) and All that Arises, a mid-career survey of the work of Lao-Australian artist Savanhdary Vongpoothorn (Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, 2019). 

Chaitanya is based at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory at the School of Art and Design, where he teaches courses on modernism and contemporary art in India, Indonesia, China and Japan, and on art, design and urbanity. In 2018, he initiated and taught ANU's inaugural in-country course on Indonesian art, and started work on the ongoing project The "Wonders" that Basham Saw: analysing the visual archives of Professor AL Basham, now a collaboration with colleagues at ANU, the National Gallery of Australia, National University of Singapore and the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Chaitanya is the primary author and editor of At Home in the World: the Art and Life of Gulammohammed Sheikh (2019). His current book project is titled "International Affiliations and Cosmopolitan Aspirations: Art, Nation and World in India and Indonesia."

Chaitanya is Convenor of the Major and Minor in Art History and Curatorship at ANU. A member of the Board of the South Asia Research Institute (SARI), he served as the Instutites's Deputy Director in 2018-19. In 2019, he was nominated Honorary Professor at the Fakultas Seni Rupa dan Desain (Faculty of Visual Art and Design) at the Institue Teknologi Bandung. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and a Curatorial Adviser to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In 2020, Chaitanya co-founded the Australasian Network for Asian Art (an4aa.org), and is a member of the Network's inaugural Coordinating Group.


Researcher's projects

2019-on: International affiliations and cosmopolitan aspirations: Art, nation and world in India and Indonesia

2018-on: The "Wonders" that Basham Saw:  digitising and analysing the slide archive of Professor A.L. Basham (in collaboration with ANU Archives)

2017-19: All that Arises, 25-year survey exhibition of the work of Lao-Australian artist Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, Drill Hall Gallery, ANU 

2012-18: At Home in the World: the Art and Life of Gulammohammed Sheikh (New Delhi: Tulika Books in association with Vadehra Art Gallery, 2019).

2012-13: Curatorial Adviser, Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne.

2011-13: Screenwriter, To Let the World In, vols. 1 and 2. Documentary film on contemporary art, dir. Avijit Mukul Kishore.

2011-12: Curator, To Let the World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art,  Art Chennai festival of contemporary art.

2009-10: Curator, Place.Time.Play: Contemporary Art from the West Heavens to the Middle Kingdom (exhibition of contemporary art from India and China), West Heavens, Shanghai.

2004-07: Curator, Edge of Desire: Recent art in India. Co-organised by Asia Society Museum, New York and Art Gallery of Western Australia. Exhibition tour: Perth, New York, Monterrey, Mexico City, Berkeley, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Available student projects

Chaitanya welcomes discussion on prospective student projects addressing modern and contemporary art practice in Asia.

Current student projects


Soo-Min Shim (Art History and Curatorship) "The Gyopo Gap: Contemporary Art and the Korean Diaspora"

Lucie Folan (Art History and Curatorship), "Unlocking aspects of Indian Art & Cultural Heritage: the history, creation, context and collection of Jain pilgrimage paintings" 

Shanti Shea-An (Painting), “Reading/Painting: A Practice-led Inquiry into Textuality, Legibility, and Translation in Contemporary Painting”

Bec Bigg-Wither (Photomedia), "Air to Ground: Apollo 11's Fiftieth Anniversary"

Lucy Irvine (Sculpture and Spatial Practice), "Emergent Knowledge Practices: Interweaving new spatial, material and relational strategies for pedadogical and interdisciplinary research"

Francis Kenna (Art Theory and Printmedia), "Feeling Spaces: grounding the body through architectural atmosphere"

Jeremy Lepisto (Sculpture and Spatial Practice),"Containers of Consequence: The shipping container and its unintended deliveries"



Chelsie Baldwin, "The Ideology of Power" Appropriation of Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit Icoonography in Indonesia"

Joanne Leong, Food cultures in Southeast Asian Art

Seren Heyman-Griffiths, Australian collections of Souteast Asian Art

Anna Stewart-Yates, Japanese-Western interfaces in modern design

Past student projects



Stephanie Parker (Photomedia, 2021), "The role of memorable interpersonal entrainment through structural performance events and place in the creation and/or transmission of the Sacred"

Phil Page (Painting, 2018) 'The Form and Content of European Cities as Paintings'.

Brian Corr (Sculpture, 2018) "Contemplative Space in Japanese Architecture"

Safrizal Shahir (Printmedia, 2017), "Gravestones as mirror: a visual discourse on Batu Aceh"

Fiona Peng Qian (Ceramics, 2016) "A Site for Hybrid Practice: Between Traditional Culture and Contemporary Ceramic Art"

Ian Jones (Art Theory and Ceramics, 2016), "Wabi-cha and the Perception of Beauty in Japanese Ceramics"

Tim Thomas (Photomedia, 2014) "The Articulation and Rearticulation of Space in the Photographic Paradigm"

Ursula Frederick (Art Theory and Photomedia, 2014), Aesthetics of Car Cultures

Christina Clarke (Art Theory and Gold and Silver, 2012) "The manufacture of Minoan vessels: theory and practice"

Robert Guth (Photomedia, 2012) "Engaging audiences to value and invest in participatory art practice through reciprocal and relational interactions"

Nicola Dickson (Painting, 2010) "Wonderlust: the influence of natural history illustration and ornamentation on perceptions of the exotic in Australia"

Johanna Hoyne (Sculpture, 2009) "Commitment, Devotion and Belonging in the World with particular reference to the work of two Indian contemporary artists"

Noelene Lucas (Sculpture) "Key Buddhist Concepts in the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto"




Heather Burness (Printmedia)



Jing Zhang, "Postsocialist Urban Aesthetics in the Pearl River Delta Region 1980s and 1990s", 2020.

Su Yilmaz, MA (Advanced), "Reclamations of Power and Space Through the Abject: Franko B and Rashid Rana" 2019.

Bianca Hill, MA (Advanced), "Woman as Visual Fiction: national identity in post-independence Myanmar" 2017. Awarded University Medal.

Chiei Ishida: "Chinese and Taiwanese Performance art of the 1980s", 2014.

Haolan Liang: "Two Traditions Engage: Contemporary Chinese Ink and Wash Painting of Zhao Xiaoping", 2014.


Jamie Alexander, "Redo/ubling Materialist Feminism, Rethinking Southeast Asian Contemporary Art History", 2020.

Caitlin Hughes, "Dismantling the Map: Narrative, intervention and the play-response in the art of Tintin Wulia, Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmett", 2020.

Hannah Tyler, "Eyes and Cities: Kaldor Public Art Projects and the Urban Landscapes of Sydney and Melbourne" (2019)

Bianca Winataputri, "Generasi Dilema: Consciousness of the Global South in the Work of Eko Nugroho and Jompet Kuswidananto" (2017). Awarded Janet Wilkie Prize for Art History.

Janis Lejins "The Art of Connection: rethinking art in a networked world" (2016)

Nagesh Seethiah "Visualising otherness in Contemporary Australian Art" (2016)

Ellen Wignell "Producing Ai Weiwei: Life, Politics and Art (2014)

Lucy Caldwell Appropriation and globalisation in the work of migrant artists in Australia (2014)

Miriam Kelly Race, gender and globalisation in the work of Mella Jaarsma and Sharmila Samant (2008) Awarded University Medal






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Updated:  08 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers