top of page

Swapnaa Tamhane (b. 1976, Toronto, based in Montreal), works to destabilize and untether colonial constructs as an artist, curator, and writer. Her process focuses on drawing, considering the presence of her hand in making paper and the treatment of surfaces. She  works in collaboration and a skill-sharing process with artisan-designers in Kutch, Gujarat, India, working with block printing and embroidery. This process of working is intentionally driven by wanting to find new languages for image-making, and developing new ground for how art, craft, and design in India have been historically articulated and hierarchically divided by colonialism. Her interests in craft and design led to the publication of SĀR: The Essence of Indian Design, published by Phaidon Press (2016), written together with designer Rashmi Varma. Her curatorial research is dedicated to the contemporary art and design histories of India, with a key focus on feminist histories.

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 SSHRC, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and Kunststiftung NRW. 

She has exhibited her work at A Space Gallery, Toronto; Nature Morte, Delhi; articule, Montreal; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; Surrey Art Gallery, BC; and V&A Dundee, Scotland. 


MFA Fibres & Material Practices, Studio Arts, Concordia University, Montreal, 2021

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

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


2022 Winter Artist-in-Residence, Banff (cancelled due to Covid)

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

2015  What About Art?, Mumbai, India

2013  Space 118, Mumbai, India
2009  KHOJ @ 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore, India
1999  S
chool of Visual Arts, Summer Residency, New York, US




Swapnaa Tamhane: No Surface is Neutral, curated by Deepali Dewan, Surrey Art Gallery, BC

DROP CLOTH, Hamilton Artists Inc., Hamilton


The Golden Fibre, V&A Dundee, Scotland, curated by Meredith More and Mother Tongue (Tiffany Boyle)

Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, curated by Dr. Deepali Dewan



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




From Where I Stand, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and British Council, Delhi, curated by Edinburgh Printmakers and Flow India Creative Learning Project, February to March 2023

Sculpture Park Jaipur, Madhavendra Palace, curated by Peter Nagy, February to December 2023

re*, Worlding Public Cultures, curated by Varda Nisar, Lorraine Doucet-Sisto, and Manar Abotouk, FOFA Gallery, Montreal, March to April 2023


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


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


Contested Spaces – Incursions, curated by Heidi Fitchner, Gallery Seven, Delhi

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




CONSTITUTIONS, Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, with Rajyashri Goody, Sajan Mani, Sohrab Hura, Prajakta Potnis, and Birender Yadav



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


2021     Concept to Realization, Canada Council for the Arts

2020    Research & Creation, Canada Council for the Arts

2019     IARTS Textiles of India Grant, ROM

2018     Joseph-Armand Bombardier (SSHRC)

2015     Project Grants to Critics and Curators, Canada Council for the Arts

2014     Kunststiftung NRW (with Aman Sandhu)

2013     International Museum Fellowship, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Germany

2012     Visual Arts Projects, Ontario Arts Council

2008    Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Arts Fellowship


2021 Board Member, SAVAC, Toronto

2019 Jury, Sobey Art Award

2011 Board Member, SAVAC, Toronto

bottom of page