Swapnaa Tamhane works to destabilize and untether colonial constructs as an artist, curator, and writer. Her process focuses on the presence of her hand in making paper and the treatment of surfaces. She works with drawing, textiles, handmade paper, text, and sculpture. She also works in collaboration with artisan-designers in Kutch, Gujarat, India, working with block printing and embroidery.


She studied at the University of Manchester (MA Contemporary Art, Distinction) in 2001 where she wrote about Gayatri Spivak's theory of the subaltern in the work of Vivan Sundaram, Nalini Malani, and Rummana Hussain, looking at the rise of the Hindu right-wing and communalism in India following the events at the Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, in 1993. 

Tamhane has been a Research Fellow with Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (2009), and an International Fellow with Kulturstiftung des Bundes (2013). She has been supported by the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and Kunststiftung NRW.

She has exhibited her work at A Space Gallery, Toronto; Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal; Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa; and articule, Montreal.

Tamhane and Delhi-based designer Rashmi Varma curated and wrote SĀR: The Essence of Indian Design, published by Phaidon Press (2016). 


MFA Fibres & Material Practices, Studio Arts, Concordia University, Montreal, Candidate

MA Contemporary Art, Distinction, The University of Manchester, 2001

BA Art History, High Honours, Carleton University, Ottawa, 1999



2018  Jorisch Family Artist Residency, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria

2015  What About Art?, Mumbai, India

2013  Space 118, Mumbai, India

2010  March Meeting, Sharjah, UAE
KHOJ @ 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore, India
1999  S
chool of Visual Arts, Summer Residency, New York, US




In Reference To, articule, Montreal 


Form, Neutor Passage, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, curated by Tina Teufel and Antonia Lotz


Portable Stories, an August Fröhls Presentation, Gardiner Museum, Toronto, curated by Rea McNamara


Drawing Tools, an August Fröhls Presentation, Mönchengladbach


The Institute of Knots, Cosmos Records West, Toronto


DUMB BUNNY, offspace, Ossington Avenue, Toronto

How to Draw a Drawing, an August Fröhls Presentation, SummerWorks Performance Festival, curated by Michael Rubenfeld

We Don’t Know What this Conversation is Going to Make, an August Fröhls Presentation, Interaccess Electronic and Media Arts Centre, Toronto

Three, an August Fröhls Presentation, Townhouse, Toronto

The Institute of Knots, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Nuit Blanche, Toronto  


House of Cards, KHOJ @ 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore




Ideas Travel Faster Than Light, Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project, London, curated by Jasone Miranda-Bilbao and Clair Joy


From Glissant, Unfixed and Unbounded, Art Gallery of Ontario, curated by Catherine Sicot (ELEGOA), Wanda Nanibush (AGO), and Pamela Edmonds (McMaster Museum)

IGNITION 15, curated by Michèle Thériault and Nicole Burisch, Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal


Protectives, curated by Vicky Moufawad-Paul, A Space Gallery, Toronto, with Basil AlZeri


SETS, an August Fröhls Presentation, curated by Elise Foster Vander Elst and Mattheiu Foss, FOCUS Photography Festival Mumbai


even my mum can make a book #5 and #4, curated by Kristina Kramer, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart and Apartment Project, Berlin

No Space for Feng Shui, curated by Katja Kottmann and Dino Steinhof, Alte Latin Schule, Viersen (with Katja Kottmann, Dino Steinhof, David Bernstein, and Vesko Gösel)


Genius Loci, with Aman Sandhu, curated by Stuart Keeler, Art Gallery of Mississauga


Contested Spaces – Incursions, curated by Heidi Fitchner, Gallery Seven, Delhi (with Riyas Komu, Tejal Shah & Varsha Nair, Asim Waqif, and Prayas Abhinav)

Before / After, Launch Projects, CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto




The Limits of....Self-Orientalizing, Nothing Personal, 2021

SĀR: The Essence of Indian Design, Swapnaa Tamhane & Rashmi Varma, Phaidon Press, 2016

‘Posters and Public Space’, Journal of Asian Diasporic Visual Culture and the Americas, Brill, 2016

‘In Order to Join – the Political in a Historical Moment’, Exhibition Catalogue, February 2015

‘Rummana Hussain: Building Necessary Histories’, n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, May 2014

 ‘The Performative Space: Tracing the roots of Performance-based practices in India’, C Magazine, 2011

‘Propositions in Performance’, Catalogue Essay, Khoj Publications, Delhi, 2010





HERE: Locating Contemporary Canadian Art, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, group exhibition with Derya Akay, Dawit L. Petros, Brette Gabel, Nahed Mansour, Harkeerat Mangat, Nep Sidhu, Sharlene Bamboat, Jamelie Hassan, Babak Golkar, Khan Lee, Jaret Vadera, Sameer Farooq, Shaan Syed, Nadia Myre, Zadie Xa, and Elizabeth Zvonar, Osheen Harruthoonyan, and George Elliott Clarke, ex. cat.



In Order to Join – Politisch in einem historischen Moment, co-curated with Susanne Titz
Max Mueller Bhavan / Goethe-Institute & CSMVS (former Prince of Wales Museum), Mumbai, 26 February to 19 April, 2015, ex. cat. Helen Chadwick (UK), Chohreh Feyzdjou (IR/FRA), Sheela Gowda (IN), Angela Grauerholz (CAN), Jamelie Hassan (CAN), Mona Hatoum (UK), Rummana Hussain (IN), Shelagh Keeley (CAN), Astrid Klein (GER), Ana Mendieta (US), Pushpamala N. (IN), Adrian Piper (GER), Lala Rukh (PAK), and Rosemarie Trockel (GER), Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, 8 December, 2013 to 16 March, 2014, ex. cat.


OBJECT MANIPULATING ECONOMY / ECONOMY MANIPULATING OBJECT, co-curated with Aman Sandhu, artists include Soya Arakawa (JP/GER), David Bernstein (US/NL), Jessica Gispert (US/GER), Elmar Hermann (GER), Harkeerat Mangat (CAN), Rajni Perera (CAN), Titre Provisoire (GER), Nep Sidhu (Black Constellation) (CAN), Kristina Stoyanova (BUL/GER), Arjan Stockhausen (GER), and Jaret Vadera (CAN), August Fröhls, Mönchengladbach, 29 January to 15 February, 2015


‘Fearless: The Hunterwali Story’ and ‘The World Before Her’, Filmwerkstatt, Düsseldorf



Assistant Curator: TEXTILES: OPEN LETTER: Abstraktionen, Textilien, Kunst, curated by Rike Frank and Grant Watson, Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, 23 June to 10 November, 2013



Ali El-Darsa, Hart House & SAVAC, 26 April



Play/Grounds: Scaling the Premises, Dean Baldwin, Susy Oliveira, Rashmi Varma, Gerald Grison, Queen West Art Crawl, Toronto

Foreground. Background.: Matt Calderwood (UK), Aron Hill (CAN), Peter Macdonald (UK), and Shaan Syed (CAN), Elementa Modern and Contemporary Art, Dubai



Simon Starling: Cuttings; Fiona Banner: The Bastard Word; Francesco Vezzoli; Steven Shearer; Stephen Andrews; Auto Emotion, Assistant Curator, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto



PRIVATE, Seema Rao (IN), Zeyad Dajani (UK), Anthony Gross (UK), David Gysek (USA), Aldgate Pump House, London


Instructor, Drawing, Studio Arts

Concordia University, Montreal

2019, 2021


Producer, Contemporary Art Projects

Luminato Festival, Toronto

2015 to 2016


Curator / International Museum Fellowship, Kulturstiftung des Bundes

Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany

2013 to 2015


School Hop Facilitator

Canadian Art Foundation, Toronto

2010 to 2012


Assistant Curator

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto

2007 to 2008



Phaidon Press, London

2002 to 2006


Assistant Director

Gallery 101 Artist-run Centre, Ottawa

1998 to 1999



2020  Artist Talk, University of Baroda, Studio Arts

2019  IARTS Textiles of India Grant, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (with Indu Antony)

2017  ‘Understanding Indian Design Today and Tomorrow’, Panel, Rashmi Varma, Divya Thakur, Ajay Shah, Malika Verma, etc., CSMVS, Mumbai

2016  ‘What is Indian Design’, History of Design, York University

         ‘Indian Design: Past and Present’, moderator, panel with Emilia Terragni, Spandana Gopal (Tiipoi), Ajay Shah (ASDS), and
          Max Fraser, TENT London, London Design Fair

2015  ‘Posters’, Home Ground: Canadian Perspectives, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto

        ‘Rummana Hussain & Performance’, Goethe-Institut, Mumbai

2014  ‘In Order to Join: Feminist Perspectives and Rummana Hussain’, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach

2012  ‘Performance Art: Contemporary Indian Artists and Histories of Political Street Theatre’, University of Toronto, Toronto / Co-organizer of      Symposia: The Shifting Plane of Performance, included Christof Migone, Antawan Byrd, Ambereen Siddiqui, Darren O’Donnell and the Torontonians, Vesna Krstich, Wanda Nanibush, Jimenza Ortuzar, Amish Morrell, Emelie Chhangur, Jess Dobkin, Jorge Lucero, Kim Simon, Stephanie Springgay, and Matthew Goulish, supported by SAVAC, OAC, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, and SSHRC

2010  ‘Performance Exchange’, March Meeting, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah



Concept to Realization, Canada Council for the Arts


Research & Creation, Canada Council for the Arts


IARTS Textiles of India Grant, ROM


Joseph-Armand Bombardier (SSHRC)


Project Grants to Critics and Curators, Canada Council for the Arts


Kunststiftung NRW (with Aman Sandhu)


International Museum Fellowship, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Germany


Visual Arts Projects, Ontario Arts Council


Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Arts Fellowship


2011 Board Member, SAVAC, Toronto

2021 Board Member, SAVAC, Toronto