This photocollage, Keep Slim (or, as Abby Grey titled it, Keep Slim with Limical), is steeped in wry allusion: Sundaram juxtaposes a cutout magazine photograph of a statue of a fecund female, perhaps a yakshi of the kind seen in Hindu temples, with a slender woman clad in a sari. At the right are the words “Stay Slim with Limical,” a reference to the drink Limical (derived from ‘limited calorie’), which was clinically tested by the Glaxo company in India as a cure for childhood obesity and marketed to upper-middle-class families in the 1960s. Following its commercial failure, the company rebranded the same chemical composition as a health supplement for children, called Complan (from “complete plan”), basically inverting the compound’s purported purpose. Colliding the historical associations of Indic statuary with the consumerist underpinnings of Glaxo’s questionable venture, Sundaram cannily comments on the effects of unchecked consumerism on the arts and culture in India.
One of the most recognizable names in modern Indian art, Sundaram is associated with the Baroda group, which also includes the powerhouse art critic Geeta Kapur, who is Sundaram’s wife. He studied at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara), and continued his education in London, earning a post-diploma from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1968. A keen critic and artist, Sundaram fostered exchange between the two disciplines and in 1976 founded the Kasauli Art Centre, where artists and scholars conducted workshops and shared ideas. In 1982 he helped establish the Delhi-based Journal of Arts and Ideas.