Illustration from Erotic Medieval Indian Literature
Mughal Era illustration from "Kamasutra"

Eroticism had been existing in Indian  sculptures since time immemorial. Temples of Khajuraho, Konark, and numerous other temples have walls and pillars covered with small sculptures showing men and women engaged in sexual acts. There is evidence that in some wall murals also such erotic depictions had been existent. Nonetheless, these are no longer available.

However in painting erotica mainly appeared much later in a large scale after 1200, when miniatures became predominant art form for the royalty. Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures and other paintings showed often couples in erotic acts. This was also the time when illustrations from Kamasutra literature started appearing.


Bhupen Khakar

Bhupen Khakar's homosexual themed artwork

Early moderns in India as well as Raja Ravi Verma and  Hemen Majumdar had however shown preference for subtle eroticism as was accepted by the society of their times. Eroticism was considered a subject of low art during this time. Thus while there appeared many erotic Kalighat Pats, most Bengal School artists remained aloof.

It is only after independence, that FN Souza and later Bhupen Kakar took eroticism as the main subject matter of art. While Souza's works were all about crassness in sexual unions, Bhupen Khakar introduced concepts of homosexuality into art in the Magic Realist style. Another form of eroticism can be seen in the works of Laxma Goud who presented these ideas subtly in his depiction of rural folk.

The post liberalization era saw a lot of socio-legal changes in Indian society, while the society became more liberal, the acts of law that banned homosexuality were challenged. The Indian films became bolder, nudity became more accepted. This has encouraged artists to experiment with newer forms of art bordering on the subject of erotic.