Method makes sense in Kala Ghoda, home to some establishments that boast of being globally hipster by way of font, layout and design, and to older shops and businesses that operate in holes in the wall, where no deeper meaning is to be found, it is what it is. Located on the mezzanine floor in one of the buildings inside the labyrinthine lanes of the neighbourhood, Sahil Arora’s urban art space straddles the Bombay of the old and Mumbai of today, and it is this in between-ness that he hopes to celebrate at Method.
“I run my own company that deals with branding, design and marketing, mostly with startups and new brands. That work constantly engages with concepts of identity. But Method doesn’t necessarily come with a set definition of what kind of space it is — it is determined with the artists we collaborate with. We don’t give the artist a brief, it’s not a transactional relationship where a gallery controls the narrative. I’ve always been fascinated by the way things are done, the process of making something and so, Method, as a name for this place felt apt. I have no training in running an art gallery and we’re just going to figure it out as we go,” says Arora, 32, who decided to take an old office space that belonged to his family’s machinery business and transform it. He stripped it bare till only the beams and pre-Independence, colonial term-like columns remained, kept the ceiling intact while replacing the cement floors with hardwood, and placed a lone tree trunk table in the middle of the room. On the opening night last week, Arora played LPs on a turntable from his enviable record collection that has also found a home in a corner of the gallery.
The setting is right for Method’s first solo show, “Perfect”, that features works by Aniruddh Mehta, an independent visual artist and graphic designer known to desi Instagram as thebigfatminimalist. “The name is ironic, because the work is not minimal, even though I work with forms and shapes. I picked up art through a digital medium, I never learned to paint,” says Mehta, 29, who has worked with St+art India Foundation at the Sassoon Docks, designed the façade of last year’s India Art Fair, and most recently was the design lead for the title sequence of Sacred Games on Netflix.
“Perfect” is a departure from the digital medium that Mehta has made a name for himself in. Canvas after canvas on the floors and on the walls are made up of bold strokes and patterns in black acrylic paint. “It’s just black ink on paper, and yes, it’s abstract expressionism that’s open to interpretation. As somebody who never painted before, I’m enjoying this participatory experience that gives viewers a mental workout,” he says. On first glance, or second, and third, it would appear that Mehta has created a world of machines — simple ones such as zips, x-ray panels and train tracks, to larger metal beasts such as WWII bombers. There are blotches and blemishes on some of the works, but Mehta won’t change a thing. “I had an idea of what ‘perfect’ looks like, and when I was making these, I began re-examining what the word meant to me,” he adds.
Open six days a week, Method has already lined up a roster of artists and exhibitions till April 2020. “Perfect will be on show till August 11. In September, we have Sajid Wajid Shaikh, a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist based in Mumbai. Then we have Amonwan Mirpuri, a Bangkok-based artist; she’s half-Indian, half-Thai, and while she’s showed her work in the US, she’s never had an exhibition in India,” says Arora.