Portrait of a New Gallery

She has opened shop in a lane where competition is in close proximity.

Written by Vandana Kalra | Published:May 12, 2012 1:46 am

She has opened shop in a lane where competition is in close proximity. There are over 20 art galleries in the neighbourhood,but that does not bother Suruchi Saraf. Instead,the owner of Art Perspective gallery feels that it nudges her to do better. “It ensures that one does not get laid-back,” says the 30-year-old,who is still working on the finer details of her 2,200 sq ft gallery in Lado Sarai that opened last fortnight.

For the inaugural show,she has chosen works in black and white. “We will focus on contemporary art and later,might commission artists to bring together two mediums,for instance,a drawing on a print,” adds Saraf,who chose to time the opening in the summer months,just before the off-season. “This way,I will get a feel of the market,which will help me plan for the busy season after the monsoons,” she notes.

The red dots still do not come easy in the industry which is inhabited by prudent collectors,still some art enthusiasts have chosen this time to make new beginnings. But unlike in the past,when most galleries largely followed a generic approach — dabbling with different media and artists from various subsets — art world’s generation now is opting for niche avenues.

If in April,Ajay Rajgarhia opened Wonderwall in Lado Sarai,a gallery dedicated to photography,Savita Agarwal’s Shree Yash Art Gallery in Green Park will provide a platform to upcoming artists. Anubhav Nath’s Ojas Art in Mehrauli will bring together veterans with emerging artists and in Mumbai,Ashwin Thadani of Galerie Isa is focusing on international art. Tulika Kedia,director of Must Art Gallery in South Delhi,has found her calling in Gond art. “Indian buyers are aware. The purchasing power is there,just that they are more conscientious,” says Kedia,who familiarised herself with the nuances of Gond art through innumerable trips to Central India.

Rajgharia,too,has taken it upon himself to commercially popularise a medium that otherwise gets step treatment. When he introduced Wonderwall as an online venture in 2007,the art market in India was at its peak,but now the bubble has burst. “I took this time to study the market and build a clientele. We organised exhibitions at private galleries but with our own space,we can have more shows,” says Rajgharia,about his 1,300 sq ft space that opened last month.

For Thadani,who is director of a high-profile event and travel company,his 15-year-long experience of collecting art came handy while he was opening a gallery to showcase the works of lesser-known artists. Frequent visits to some of the most prestigious international art fairs — including Art Basel in Switzerland,the Frieze Art Fair in New York and Art Dubai — convinced him to consider bringing international art to India.

“I wondered how India doesn’t already have a space like this to showcase international art,so I decided to open one,” he explains. At the inaugural show at the gallery in December 2011,he showcased the works of German artist Anselm Reyle,followed by an exhibition comprising works of Puerto Rican-born artist Angel Otero. “All eight works of Otero sold and the response to the Anselm Reyle show was also very encouraging,” notes Thadani.

Specialisation does require putting in more effort though. “One has to attain an in-depth knowledge to acquaint people with the genre,” says Kedia.

With inputs from Zaira Arslan

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