Dr Chaitanya Sambrani

MA (Fine): MSU, Baroda; PhD : ANU
Senior Lecturer, Centre for Art History and Art Theory
College Arts & 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, politics of art practice, transnational and cosmopolitan histories of art 

Contemporary art's relationships with traditional practice

Art, architecture and urbanity


Chaitanya Sambrani studied art history and curatorship at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda and the Australian National University.  He 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 curatorial projects include Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India (the exhibition toured 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 published in 2019 by Tulika Books in association with Vadehra Art Gallery. His current project is titled International Affiliations and Cosmopolitan Aspirations: Art, Nation and World in India and Indonesia.

Chaitanya is a member of the Board of the South Asia Research Institute (SARI), and 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.


Researcher's projects

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, survey exhibition of Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, Drill Hall Gallery, ANU 

2012-18: Principal author and editor, 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.

Current student projects

Lucinda Davison (PhD, Art History and Curatorship). "The (mis)interpretation of transgressive tactics in recent Chinese art."

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

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

Bec Bigg-Wither, (PhD, Photomedia) "Apollo 11: Fiftieth Anniversary"

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

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

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


Past student projects



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"

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"



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.


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


Heather Burness (Printmedia)


Partial supervisions:

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

Ursula Frederick (PhD Art Theory and Photomedia)

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

Phil Page (PhD, Painting)



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Updated:  15 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers