AFTER A six-month hiatus, galleries in Colaba will reopen on Thursday with new shows for the city’s art lovers. Only this time, visitors will not be able to just walk in as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. Masks will be mandatory and appointments encouraged.
Gallery Tarq reopens with a suite of collages by Apnavi Makanji, a Geneva-based artist known to explore ideas of ecology, home and memory. Tarq’s owner, Hena Kapadia, said her space is prioritising the safety of visitors by asking them to fill out an online form with contact details for an appointment. Visiting slots are scheduled at 15-minute intervals to ensure distancing. Kapadia said, “My team and I are genuinely excited to meet people we haven’t been able to see in so long.” While her gallery has had virtual exhibitions and events during lockdown, seeing an artwork in a physical setting is qualitatively different, she added.
The collective reopening is set for Art Night Thursday, a monthly affair that saw extended working hours, packed preview soirees, and a chance to socialise across galleries in Colaba. In its present avatar, Art Night Thursday will no longer have its former revelry, but will still allow visitors to appreciate works by Indian and international artists through the day.
Jhaveri Contemporary joins Art Night Thursday with “black works” by Amina Ahmed, Anwar Jalal Shemza and Parul Thacker in ‘Black Beyond Sight’. The group show will run till November and the gallery will be open three days a week, Thursday to Saturday.
Galerie Isa will host British artist Henry Hudson’s first solo exhibition in India, titled ‘At Some Point in Time’. The artist’s plasticine (modelling clay) bas-reliefs depict vivid jungle scenes, details of which may be best appreciated in person.
“It’s good to just be back in our space and at our desks. We have missed this sense of setting up an exhibition and bonding with each other,” said Geetha Mehra, who runs Sakshi Gallery. The space reopens with works by 12 artists in ‘Breathing Through Shifting Scapes’, curated by Jesal Thacker, and has been fitted with sanitisers and temperature checks. Visits require appointments, though walk-ins can be accommodated.
“I am not sure people are going to take the plunge and come. Let’s see who is adventurous. But the artists and curator are going to be here. For artists, it’s important to see their works exhibited and meet their audience, for they are anyway working more or less in isolation,” Mehra said.
From a sales point of view, gallerists believe that reopening their spaces will not make much of a difference, considering that collectors are comfortable with online purchases. Kapadia said, “Showing artworks is a curatorial call rather than a sales call.”
Sales have happened through virtual shows during lockdown, as was the case with Akara Art, which hosted an online exhibition between May and June. In early July, the gallery reopened with a show of 14 drawings and prints by noted printmaker Somnath Hore, of which 11 sold. Now it will join Art Night Thursday with a solo show of urban scenes by Australian artist George Byrne that caters to price points of younger collectors. The gallery’s director, Puneet Shah, said the pandemic has made him realise that “a lot of administrative work that we waste so much time on can be done digitally”.
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