Collecting for the Public: Kiran Nadar

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart’s take on Kiran Nadar’s future ambitions for her private museum – The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.

“I have stopped thinking of art as personal.”

London: January 2010 saw the opening of the Kiran Nadar Museum in New Delhi, featuring the personal collection of avid collector Kiran Nadar.  Alongside the Devi Art Foundation, which was opened in 2008 by collector Anupam Poddar and his mother Lekha in Gurgaon, the prime function of KNMA is not only to put up the Nadars’ personal collection on display but also to provide a non-profit space dedicated to holding exhibitions for modern and contemporary art.  The goal is to foster a museum going culture and increase awareness for art in a country and city where there is a lack of art museums, especially those for modern and contemporary art. 

With an already established yet burgeoning collection, Nadar intends to move her collection out of its current location in a mall, into a purpose – built museum that will allow more works to be exhibited to the public, in the most creative and apt manner possible.  However, as favorable as the development of this new museum is, it doesn’t come without the challenge of overcoming hurdles stationed by the government.  In a recent interview with FT, Nadar stated that land acquisition for such facilities becomes a struggle and the lack of government support is curious:

“You’d think the government would look on this as an opportunity,”

However, she hopes the building will be constructed in five years time, giving her that much time to further shape and expand her collection.

Nadar’s future goals and expansion brings one to reflect on the role of the collector in the art world.  Opening private museums has been a trend of late, especially in emerging markets such as Asia.  China specifically, has seen significant growth in these new private institutions, as it is arguably the largest and fastest growing art market, it is because of this high level of investment in art that these institutions are able to exist.  Other emerging markets such as India have experienced much slower growth in the development of institutions (private or public) exhibiting art.  It is certainly in response to a major lack of public institutions, that collectors such as Nadar open up their collections to public display, and assume this responsibility to provide the public with some kind of awareness and education in regards to art, especially art that would be relevant to a younger generation.  India has one of the youngest populations in the world, thus culturally informing that generation becomes a priority.  As the government won’t assume this responsibility, it falls on other members of society, whether they be artists, curators, or in this case, collectors. 

 

Subodh Gupta, Lines of Control in the South Court Mall, Delhi

Subodh Gupta, Lines of Control in the South Court Mall, Delhi. Image Credit: http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/97e6a8c2-5243-11e3-adfa-00144feabdc0.img

Raising awareness for contemporary art especially proves to be an issue in India.  One way of resolving this issue is to exhibit art in public spaces, which is exactly what Nadar did when she installed Subodh Gupta’s Lines of Control in the middle of South Court Mall in New Delhi.  The sculpture, representing an atomic bomb cloud and assembled using Gupta’s preferred materials: steel pots, pans and utensils, refers to issues between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.  Now, it is viewed by thousands of mall goers on a daily basis.  Placing artworks in malls is not a new concept, it has been done before, multiple times by artist collective Khoj.  However this again brings the artwork to the viewer, not the viewer of the artwork, which is ultimately Nadar’s goal in building a museum and creating this culture of museum going.  In order to stimulate this interest, Nadar is also changing her collection tactics:

“I used to buy art completely on a whim. Now, I still collect what I like but I look at it a little more in perspective. I would like the collection to be encyclopedic rather than episodic.”

In assembling a more visionary, academic, and wholesome collection, Nadar exemplifies the potential collectors have in influencing and attracting audiences of art.  Furthermore, her passion reflects that intentions to build private institutions go far beyond providing exhibiting spaces for large and fast growing collections and gaining tax benefits, and that they can, and do, fulfill social goals of raising cultural awareness. 

For more information about the Kiran Nadar Art Museum visit KNMA website.  

India Art Fair 2013: A Great Success

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart reflects on an interesting article on the India Art Fair by Girish Shahane

India Art Fair

India Art Fair. Image Credit: http://www.indiaartfair.in/

London: For people who like me sadly could not make it to the India Art Fair 2013, Girish Shahane, Mumbai based art critic and curator, wrote an interesting blog post about the exhibit.

Comparing this edition to last year’s, the author notes that the fair was much clearer on its purposes and better organized. Some international galleries such as Houser and Wirth, Lisson and White Cube preferred not to join the fair again, partly because of the stringent Indian regulations and partly because they found the market underdeveloped. However, this withdrawal was not necessarily a negative move since it opened up space for other galleries such as Daniel Besseiche who was showing Bangladeshi artist Ahmed Shahabuddin and was appreciated by the Indian art lovers.

Shahane pointed out that this year the fair was more accessible to everyone. The subject matter of the exhibited works was more easily recognizable and the colours and visible skills of the artists took over from last year’s conceptual works which were appreciated only by a few. In addition, the occurrence of many galleries in one place was a great time saver for the people looking to purchase artwork but who didn’t want to spend the entire day roaming around Delhi or Mumbai.

Although this year the art fair was made for a wider audience, many events and parallel exhibitions were organized around Delhi for the art experts. A Nasreen Mohamedi Retrospective was held at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and other exhibitions at the British Council, IGNCA, National Gallery of Modern Art, Khoj Artist’s Workshop and the Devi Art Foundation.

The only drawback was that the last of the three pavilions at the fair was not as good as as the others, but still managed to attract many lesser-known art dealers.

All in all, the fair has been a great success for the galleries, viewers and the organizers, perhaps a sign that the economy is slowly raising up again.

Click here to read the full Girish Shahane’s blog post.

Must-Attends: Beyond the India Art Fair

Manjari Sihare shares details of some must-attend exhibitions and symposia in New Delhi coinciding with the India Art Fair 

New Delhi: If you are in India right now, Delhi is the place to be. The art world is gearing up for the country’s biggest annual art extravaganza, the India Art Fair starting on Friday, February 1 (with a preview the day before). Each year since its inception in 2008, the fair has grown larger. The 5th edition is bringing together 105 exhibiting galleries from 24 countries, presenting over 1000 works by some of the most exciting artists from across the world. But the action is not just limited to just the Fair. Outside of the Fair, there are some collateral exhibitions and events that I believe are MUST ATTENDS. Here is my list:

KNMA Noida EInviteA private museum for modern and contemporary Indian art, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) is known to line up an ambitious program each year to mark its birthday (three years ago in January 2010, KNMA opened its first location in the HCL campus in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi). The museum lives up to its reputation once again this year by unveiling an ambitious series of events. The first in line to open on January 18th was Zones of Contact an exhibition curated by three young and dynamic curators, Deeksha Nath, Vidya Shivadas and Akansha Rastogi. The curatorial note for the show notes that it is an attempt “to envision the museum as a site and an idea in flux, as a catalyst that by undergoing redefinition allows for concretized notions and experiences of modernity and post-modernity to be revisited and rethought.” In a country where there is really no state owned museum of contemporary art, an exhibition such as this one speaks volumes of the mission this private museum has set for itself to showcase and re-define contemporary art in the region.

On view from today is Difficult Loves , a trilogy of exhibitions curated by the Director and Chief Curator of KNMA, Roobina Karode. This includes the largest retrospective ever of the late Nasreen Mohamedi, an artist whose minimal works leave an unforgettable impression on the viewer, a tribute to India’s Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gil, and a group exhibition featuring iconic installation works of seven leading contemporary  women artists – Ranjani Shettar, Anita Dube, Sheba Chhachhi, Bharti Kher, Dayanita Singh, Sheela Gowda and Sonia Khurana. My personal favorite is Sheba Chhachhi’s Water Diviner, a version of which I first saw at the National Museum of Natural History in 48’c public. art.ecology curated by Pooja Sood and organized by the South Asian Network of Goethe Institutes in 2008. This series of shows promises to be spectacular. Not to miss at all!

KNMA exhibition

Tomorrow, the museum will be hosting two talks under the Critical Collective Symposia conceptualized and organized by veteran Delhi based critic and curator, Gayatri Sinha. The first of these is panel discussion between renowned South African contemporary artist, William Kentridge and Indian veterans, Vivan Sundaram and Nalini Malani. The second one is a talk by UK based art historian, TJ Demos, who is best known for his published work on the conjunction of art and politics.

KNMA talkThe India Art Fair always ends with the opening of an exhibition at the Devi Art Foundation. This time, it will the third and last edition of the Sarai Reader, an exhibition conceptualized by the Devi Art Foundation and Raqs Media Collective. Sarai Reader 9 is a nine month long project envisaged to draw on ‘exhibition’ as an evolving process, introducing new forms of creative thinking and methodologies. Invitations were open to anyone and everyone with an interesting idea and an engaging means of presentation, limited to a fixed duration and applicable within a space. The first  episode opened for viewing on 13 October, 2012, followed by another on 15 December last year. Read more about these episodes. This current episode will be on view until April 16, 2013. For more information, click here.

Devi Art Foundation - Sarai Reader

All the activity is not limited to Delhi only. Mumbai will see the opening of the first ever exhibition of William Kentridge’s work in India hosted by Volte Gallery. Of South African descent, Kentridge has exhibited worldwide in major venues such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York. His works mostly deal with subjects of apartheid and colonialism. This show featuring Kentridge’s eight multichannel projection installation, sculptures, drawings, tapestries, videos and prints, promises to be a blockbuster. The exhibition will be on view from February 6 to March 20, 2013.

William Kentrdige @ Volte Gallery

Art+Auction’s Power Collectors 2012: Kiran Nadar

Medha Kapur of Saffronart shares a note on Art+Auction’s 2012 Power Collectors List which features Indian collector Kiran Nadar

Art+Auction's Power 2012Every year, Art+Auction publishes its ‘Power’ list, spotlighting those individuals who have stood out in the art world over the year. This year, the nine-part list, which was released last week, includes experts from all corners of the arts: Auction Power, the Power of TraditionPower CollectorsDesign PowerPower DealersPower PatronsPower PlayersPower to Watch, and Power Personalities.

Being on Art+Auction’s Power 100 list, an individual shares only one characteristic with the fellow listees: distinction! So,how is who does and doesn’t make the list determined?

ARTINFO, under whose banner Art+Auction is published, canvas widely, soliciting contributions from all over the world to make sure the list is comprehensive. They aim to strike a balance between equally valid yet frequently competing areas of influence —weighing curatorial prominence against the character, agency, and the clout of individuals. Connections, magnetism, and leadership also play a role, especially when it comes to private collectors. A candidate’s future potential or ascendancy is also a quality they try to assess when considering for potential inclusion on the list.

The third of nine installments published by Art+Auction this year includes a list of individuals who are putting together groundbreaking collections: ‘Power Collectors.’ Among the top power collectors of 2012 is one well known name in India – one of the most important collectors of modern and contemporary Indian art – Kiran Nadar. Other collectors on the list include François Pinault, George Economou, Leon Black (who recently acquired Edvard Munch’s 1895 pastel version of The Scream for $120 million, the most expensive work of art sold at auction to date), and Len Blavatnik.

Kiran Nadar

Kiran Nadar with an installation by Subodh Gupta.
Image Courtesy: http://www.artinfo.com

Nadar established the KNMA (Kiran Nadar Museum of Art), India’s first privately owned museum, which has an illustrious collection of about 700 modern and contemporary works. In 2010, Nadar bought S.H. Raza’s 1983 painting Saurashtra for a record-breaking £2,393,250 ($3.5 million) at an auction house in London. In April 2012, Nadar unveiled her most ambitious acquisition yet — Subodh Gupta’s 26-ton, 30-foot-high Line of Control, first displayed at the 2009 Tate Triennial. Line of Control was installed at the central foyer of the DLF South Court Mall in Saket, Delhi. It took 80 man hours, about 3 dozen people, unimaginable logistical effort, and superb execution to erect one of the largest public sculptures in the country.

Saurashtra | S H Raza 1983

Saurashtra | S H Raza
1983
Image Courtesy: http://www.knma.in/

Line of Control | Subodh Gupta 2008

Line of Control | Subodh Gupta
2008
Image Courtesy: http://www.knma.in/

The KNMA possesses works by other artists including Tyeb MehtaNasreen MohamediM.F. HusainAnish KapoorArpita Singh, F.N. SouzaJamini RoyA. Ramachandran , S.H. RazaSubodh GuptaJogen Chowdhury, Krishen KhannaManjit BawaN. S. HarshaRam KumarRameshwar Broota, and V.S. Gaitonde among others. Some of the more noteworthy ones include Bharti Kher’s The Skin Speaks A Language Not Its Own, Rina Banerjee’s The world as burnt fruit and Akbar Padamsee’s Grey Nude.

The Skin, Speaks a Language Not Its Own | Bharti Kher 2006

The Skin, Speaks a Language Not Its Own | Bharti Kher
2006
Image Courtesy: http://www.knma.in/

Grey Nude | Akbar Padamsee 1960

Grey Nude | Akbar Padamsee
1960
Image Courtesy: http://www.knma.in/

The World as Burnt Fruit | Rina Banerjee 2009

The World as Burnt Fruit | Rina Banerjee
2009
Image Courtesy: http://www.knma.in/

Kiran Nadar is married to Shiv Nadar, founder chairman of HCL Technologies and the Shiv Nadar Foundation.

A Play of Shadows and Reflections that Impresses on the Visual Imagery of Ranbir Kaleka

Kanika Anand attends Ranbir Kaleka’s illustrated talk ‘Skins of Time’ at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

Ranbir Kaleka talking about his work
Image courtesy- KNMA, New Delhi

New Delhi: Ranbir Kaleka’s paintings, digital prints, video projections and media works have always fascinated me. They are not only imaginative, but are indeed, a gripping way of telling a story.

Ranbir opened the evening with a slide of his ancestral haveli in Patiala, where he grew up. The image was but a collage of photographs holding the structure up and containing its memories forever. Although not nostalgic of the physicality of his home, Ranbir vividly explained that his sheltered upbringing and childhood interactions, almost exclusively with family members, led him to observe things and experiences more intently. Ranbir’s play was built on tales, mirrors and their reflections, shadows and their movements. He drew comfort in their complexities, a trait that reflects in his work to date.

Ranbir spoke of his family as story-tellers, either inventing or relating stories true to their character and personal fantasies. His imagery does not appear to acknowledge linear order or chronology; events overlap and beings are dense and contorted.

Woman wrestling with Lion (miniature from a set of 10), mixed media on paper and packing cardboard), 1994

Woman and flying insect, Oil on Board, 2000 (From a series of Portraits)

The artist took us through his early paintings, done as an art student, first at Punjab University, Chandigarh, and then at the Royal College of Art, London. Here we see the initial but lasting influences of calendar art, a somewhat sophisticated kitsch, and most significantly the impact of cinema in each painted tableau. The latter became a tangible part of his work in 1999 in ‘Man Threading the Needle’, Ranbir’s first video projection on canvas. The merging of two mediums allowed the viewer to enter a deeper space of experience, yet their incongruity meant the experience was also elusive. Through a series of such works in the 2000s including ‘Man with Cockerel’ (2004), ‘Fables from the House of Iban’ (2007), ‘He was a Good Man’ (2008), ‘Sweet Unease’ (2010) and the like, Ranbir engages us in poignant moments where protagonist identities remain wanting and/or becoming. This is also true of his digital prints, paintings on canvas and series of staged photographs.

A still from ‘He was a Good Man’, video projection on painting, 2010

A still from ‘Crossings’, a four channel video projection on painting, 2005,
Image courtesy- KNMA, New Delhi

Conference of Birds & Beasts, Digital print and painting on canvas, 2010

Lion and the Milk Bowl, digital print and painting on canvas, 2011

It was a delight to hear the usually bashful artist speak of his work. And personally, it was incredibly gratifying to see his early works and note the strains of memory and conditioning in his imagery. The talk, initiated by KNMA, New Delhi, was a corollary event to their current exhibition Crossings: Time Unfolded II, of which Ranbir Kaleka’s 2010 four-channel video projection also titled Crossings is on display.

A rapt audience at the talk
Image courtesy- KNMA, New Delhi

Ranbir Kaleka’s first major exhibition in New Delhi since 1995 was held at Saffronart in December 2011-January 2012. For more on the show,  click here.

Kanika Anand is an art professional and budding curator specializing in Indian contemporary art. She holds a degree in Art History from the National Museum Institute, New Delhi, and has worked in the field for five years with Gagosian Gallery, Gallery Espace and Talwar Gallery in New York and New Delhi. She is currently pursuing the Curatorial Training Program at the Ecole du Magasin in Grenoble, France, in line with her interest to responsibly curate projects towards making art more accessible as well as inter-disciplinary.

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