New in gallery town

The last time the legendary Bombay Progressive Artists Groups’ works were exhibited in Mumbai was in 1949,at the Bombay Art Society Salon in Kala Ghoda’s Rampart Row.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published: July 13, 2012 2:46 am

The last time the legendary Bombay Progressive Artists Groups’ works were exhibited in Mumbai was in 1949,at the Bombay Art Society Salon in Kala Ghoda’s Rampart Row. This show featured work by the group’s founder members — FN Souza,SH Raza,MF Husain,KH Ara,SK Bakre and HA Gade. The group laid the foundation for a revolutionary,avant garde school of painting for years to come. However,their activities waned soon after this show. Now,more than six decades later,this landmark show comes a full circle of sorts as Delhi Art Gallery plans to put up the paintings showcased there at the inaugural show of its Mumbai branch.

The organisation has acquired a beautiful standalone house,which is more than a century-old and located in Kala Ghoda. This is currently being converted into a three-level art space. “The ground and first floors will exhibit the ongoing work,while the second floor will have our permanent gallery collection,” says Kishore Singh,Head,Exhibitions and Publications,Delhi Art Gallery. Kala Ghoda,being the centre of South Mumbai’s artscape,was an obvious choice of location,however,getting this sprawling,spacious heritage building was sheer luck,he adds.

While renovation of the space is underway for an October opening,art aficionados are particularly enthusiastic about the inaugural show — “Continuum”,a retrospective of sorts of the Progressive Artist Groups’ work. “The inaugural show with the Progressive Artists Groups’ work sounds wonderful as I do believe that the moment of the progressives can be revisited productively several times over,” says Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat.

Delhi Art Gallery’s foray into Mumbai’s art scene is driven by the desire to make its presence felt in the most important centre for Indian art,after the Capital. “Mumbai has a matured environment and a huge collector-base; the plan to venture into Mumbai has been there for more than a couple of years,” says Singh. The gallery brings its rich archive of modern and contemporary collections — from the 20th century to the present — to Mumbai with its opening. “Without trying to sound arrogant about it,I wish to say that the other Mumbai galleries would not be able to provide this kind of work,” Singh states. “We won’t have competition,rather we would bring competition,” he adds.

However,Dadiba Pundole,owner of Pundole Art Gallery,one of Mumbai’s oldest galleries,doesn’t think of it as a competitor. “Geographical location doesn’t matter any more; the internet has changed the rules of buying art and everybody is at a level-playing field,” he says. “I have obviously seen their work,some have been very good and some ordinary,” he exclaims. Pundole believes that the venture would only add value to the art atmosphere here. “There is always room for more,” he adds. And according to Kallat,it would be interesting to see how the gallery develops and adapts itself in the context of Mumbai’s art scene.

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