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.  

Kallat for Kochi

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Jitish Kallat’s appointment as the curator for the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennial in 2014.

 

London: Jitish Kallat, by any standard, is one of the internationally most well established Indian contemporary artists.  Which is perhaps why his appointment as the next curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennial (KMB) comes as no surprise. Declared by Hon. Mayor of Cochin, Mr. Tony Chammany, as the official curator of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, he was selected by an elite and diverse panel of Indian art professionals put together by the Kochi Biennial Foundation.  Consisting of art historian Geeta Kapur, director of Dr. Bhau Daji Laad Museum, Tasneem Mehta, director of Outset India and the Gujral Foundation, Feroz Gujral, director of Gallery Maskara, Abhay Maskara, artists Sheela Gowda and Balan Nambiar, and the President and General Secretary of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, they provided the following official statement in support of their choice:

“To continue the unique character of this artist led Biennale we are selecting Jitish Kallat as the new curator for the 2014 edition. Jitish brings immense international experience to the next Biennale. He possesses sound theoretical knowledge about contemporary art along with a diverse yet meticulous approach to his own practice. We are confident that Jitish will curate an innovative and experiential second edition.”

Because the legitimacy of biennials is essentially evaluated based on their constant recurrence,  the successful execution of the second edition biennial becomes imperative to its future continuation and representation of contemporary art in India.  The first edition of the KMB, already having been declared ‘the second largest running biennial in the world after Venice, with almost 400,000 visitors’, has provided the KB Foundation and government of Kerala with motive to not only maintain but progress the standard established in 2012.  Appointing Kallat as curator is clearly an attempt to cement the KMB’s reputation as a legitimate institution.  He has participated in countless biennials, his works have been exhibited at major museums around the world, so given his international exposure, critical acclaim, and commercial success as an artist his representation and endorsement of the biennial certainly adds great value to the entire event.  Even if he does lack curatorial experience, he has extensive experience with biennials, and an understanding of how they function.  Additionally, he also happens have Keralite roots, hailing from Thrissur, although he was born and bought up in Mumbai.

Jitish Kallat for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014

Jitish Kallat for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014. Image Credit: http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/announcing-web-poster-04.jpg

From a political perspective, the commitment to promoting Kerala as a cultural center remains a priority, however, for the coming editions, there is a greater responsibility of establishing India as a destination for contemporary art, outside of a commercial context.  Intentions to push this standard and expand the the impact of the biennial have been voiced by the officials and organizers of the biennial:

“The first edition of the Biennale accentuated the tourism and cultural sectors of Kerala,  the biennale requires a permanent venue as it promises to return every two years, and we are searching for such a place to make this possible.” – Mayor of Cochin, Mr. Tony Chammany

“This return is required for the Biennale to develop its unique grammar and vocabulary. ” He also said that the media played a vital role in initiating a dialogue and bringing biennale to people’s home’s.” – Jitish Kallat.

As the contemporary art scene is constantly growing and evolving, the appointment of Jitish Kallat as curator is highly reflective of it’s current situations.  Kallat’s career is representative of a culmination of the academic acclaim and popular or commercial success, much like Subodh Gupta or Atul Dodiya – and since the biennial is an institution that is essentially non commercial, but is trying to navigate itself in a very commercially driven art society, Kallat could be the negotiating factor between both worlds.  He has also managed to achieve his success at a relatively young age (he is just 39) and since the KMB seeks to affect mainly the youth, perhaps a fresher perspective is the next step to progressing the already impactful biennial.  Furthermore, contemporary art is still relatively an unknown field to the general public and one of the goals of the biennial is to expand the reach of contemporary art, it is perhaps more effective to approach it with a more popular manner, rather than an extremely academic one.  Again, the mesh between the academic and the commercial becomes critical.  The notion of recurrence and repetition is essential to the longevity of biennials, and in order to keep occurring, the nature of the biennial must adapt to its current situations, and by attracting as many visitors as possible.

“That’s what art is all about. Sometimes it’s just a shift of vision…Let us hope it will be different but the genetic link will remain and it will be the continuation of the same language…I want to bring a new set of tools to work with the same set of ideas.”- Jitish Kallat

Preparations are clearly underway to ensure the next KMB as impacting as the inaugral edition, until then we just have to wait and see what Kallat’s unique vision will hold.

 

From Kitchen To Table with Subodh Gupta

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart shares her experience attending Subodh Gupta’s performance feast “Celebration” at Performa 13.

Subodh Gupta "Celebration" at Performa 13

Subodh Gupta “Celebration” at Performa 13

New York: For the past three months, I have had the opportunity to participate in the Performa Intensive program through New York University. This included researching, assisting and participating in the production process for the well-known, visual art performance biennial under the Founding Director Roselee Goldberg. Throughout the process the most memorable and unique experience has been participating in Subodh Gupta’s piece “Celebration”, both as an aid to the kitchen staff and as a guest. Gupta is well known for his large-scale installations made from everyday objects from the Indian Subcontinent, specifically food containers such as steel tiffin boxes, thali pans and large pails. His work touches on the histories of Duchamp’s readymades, while simultaneously addressing issues of everyday life in India. Sources of inspiration range from politics to social issues. For “Celebration” (held at The Old Bowery Station) Gupta has constructed a massive chandelier made of various sized steel containers and a dazzling collection of light bulbs. The piece embodies the artist’s ability to transform these everyday vessels, while still honoring their place in everyday life. In addition to his spectacular installation, Gupta’s performance focuses on the concept of “feast” and how this event brings individuals together. Eight times throughout the biennial he prepared an elaborate meal for around fifty guests to enjoy, sharing the space with his spectacular chandelier.

Subodh Gupta at Performa 13

Subodh Gupta at Performa 13

Presented with the opportunity to assist in the kitchen for this project I was excited to get to see one of my favorite artists creating something innovative, yet so customary. Gupta’s piece stressed the role that feasting has in every community. Whether it is shared in mourning, happiness or simply togetherness, communal food presents an important element in every culture.  While helping in the kitchen, I was thrilled to see the artist actively involved in every part of the meal. He would be quickly stirring a pot and seconds later run over to direct and interact with the kitchen staff, preparing other elements of the meal. Simultaneously with being involved in the execution of every single part of the meal, Gupta also directed art handlers in the installation of his massive chandelier in the next room. The entire kitchen was buzzing with excitement and energy the way a family home would before a big holiday. Very rarely does one have the opportunity to witness an artist do something (aside from their chosen craft) with the passion and delight that Subodh Gupta expressed while cooking in the Bowery Station space.

"Celebration" by Subodh Gupta. The Old Bowery Station. Taken by Elizabeth Prendiville

“Celebration” by Subodh Gupta. The Old Bowery Station. Taken by Elizabeth Prendiville

Having this behind the scenes experience and actively participating in everything from plating bananas for dessert and drying cups to carrying packs of King Fisher beer into the event space, contributed to my understanding of Gupta’s performance. As a guest I immediately noticed that the space was pulsing with energy. Guests chatted, drank, ate and enjoyed the full sensory experience of “Celebration” from start to finish. As dessert was being served the artist took a moment to speak. He stressed the importance of community feasting in every culture, especially in India. Gupta explained that in Indian communities it is very common to share and serve food for strangers and foster new friendships in this celebratory setting. This was very fitting for the experience we shared as each table was packed with different groups mingling freely. When asked if his family or some other outside source influenced the menu Gupta simply said “I cooked the food I like to eat”. “Celebration” was truly a heartfelt performance that the artist generously shared with everyone in attendance.

"Celebration" by Subodh Gupta. The Old Bowery Station. Taken by Elizabeth Prendiville

“Celebration” by Subodh Gupta. The Old Bowery Station. Taken by Elizabeth Prendiville

Performa 13 runs through November 24th. For more information about artist’s classes, performances and other programming check out the official Performa 13 website here. 

Absolut Kapoor

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Absolut’s latest collaboration with Anish Kapoor and his reinvention of the BOTTLE.                              

 London: Artists and Vodka? Certainly not a surprising association, but one that has constantly been given new meaning for the past 27 years by Sweedish vodka company Absolut.  In 1986 Andy Warhol started a long association between Absolut and the arts community by painting their vodka bottle, more recently, this year they have announced Anish Kapoor as the artist who will continue this tradition by creating a unique installation, his interpretation of the absolut bottle.  The work is to be made using Kapoor’s trademark engagement of the viewer with space.  The creation of the bottle will be made with ‘negative’ space employing a sculpting technique that has commonly been featured in many of Kapoor’s previous works, as well as his use of metals and the colour red.  The artist elaborates on this opportunity by stating,

           “Absolut has a long history with artists, from Warhol to many of my great colleagues. The idea of somehow encapsulating whatever it is that one does in a single moment….and kind of making it an Absolut Kapoor. It is a strange notion, but one that I felt I could at least go in pursuit of” –Anish Kapoor.”

Kapoor’s bottle will be one of the latest in the collection including the work of countless established contemporary artists such as Rosemarie Trockel and Louise Bourgeiouse who have contrinbuted through their interpretations of the bottle and it’s meaning [See images below].

Louise Bourgeouis, Andy Warhol, Rosemarie Trockel for Absolut

Louise Bourgeouis, Andy Warhol, Rosemarie Trockel for Absolut. Image Credit: http://images.idiva.com/media/content/2011/Feb/absolut_art_collection_more.jpg

Closer to home, Indian designer Manish Arora designed a bottle in 2009, and soon after Subodh Gupta (in 2011), Bharti Kher (in 2012), and most recently early this year, author Vikram Seth have all participated in this artistic alliance [see images below].

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Collaboration between brands and the arts community is a common enough occurrence.  For istance you have internationally renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama who have both worked with large brands like Louis Vuitton, and more recently you have up coming artists like Thukral and Tagra who designed handbags for the Italian brand Etro.  With Absolut you can physically trace this history, starting with Warhol in 1986.  Warhol’s legacy is characterized by the genre of Pop Art, through deconstructing this term, it is evident that he essentially fused the worlds of popular culture and art together, making it more accessible or appealing to a wider audience.  Often these partnerships are accussed of having commercial overtones, or being marketing gimmicks for both the brands and the arists involved, but ultimately what they achieve is greater recognition for the artist and their works, thus providing audiences with an opportunity to discover what contemporary art is, therefore reaching a wider audience.  This focus on the audience and their experience with the work is what makes Anish Kapoor so apt and simultaneously unique as a choice to interpret the Absolut bottle. His works are conceived on the premise of viewers engagement with the space and the artwork – which is this case is the bottle – an object they have probably come across at least a couple of times.  The experience of viewing the installation encapsulates not only a very academic notion the engagement of audiences and space, but the mesh of popular culture and art as well which is extremely reflective of and imperative to the contemporary art scene.  Anish Kapoor himself reflects on this aspect of how an artwork functions (in relation to the audience) and what it can accomplish,        

 

Art is really all about transformation; it’s about taking a piece of metal, a lump of clay, a bit of cement, or whatever else and turning it into something that it isn’t. That fundamental transformation is truly mysterious; it is something that is in a way is wondrous. That moment of wonder is something that is deeply attractive and we are instinctively drawn to it, it is as if the work is saying come here, come and be part of this wonder, this thing that is happening. And I feel that intimacy with the viewer is something special, something we have to hold on to.” – Anish Kapoor.

The transformation of the bottle is what we are looking forward to, and have great expectations for. 

 For more information click here.

Subodh Gupta|Recent Works @ Galleryske

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart invites you to Subodh Gupta’s recent exhibition at Galleryske, Bangalore

Subodh Gupta, Recent Works @ Galleryske

Subodh Gupta, Recent Works @ Galleryske. Image Credit: http://galleryske.com/SubodhGupta_2013/InvitePage.html

London: Galleryske in Bangalore is currently hosting “Subodh Gupta: Recent Works”. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition of small works. “I’m quite excited about it. The poetry of doing something so small, personal and valuable to me; it’s quite a beautiful experience,” says Gupta.

Subodh Gupta, Note to Self (X), 2013

Subodh Gupta, Note to Self (X), 2013. Image Credit: http://galleryske.com/SubodhGupta_2013/Works/SubodhGupta_12.html

 

The exhibition features a selection of Subodh Gupta’s most recent artworks including installations, sculptures and paintings, all focusing on eating, cooking and travelling.

Subodh Gupta, Thoughts (Detail), 2013

Subodh Gupta, Thoughts (Detail), 2013. Image Credit: http://galleryske.com/SubodhGupta_2013/Works/SubodhGupta_10.html

“The paintings in this show are essentially a sort of diary for me. I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world, and eat all kinds of local cuisine- it’s interesting that sometimes a restaurant in Italy will be identical to something you have probably visited in Delhi. I record my journey through the food, creating a visual archive. It is a way to map my outward movement from India to the rest of the world. As the title “Note to self”, suggests, the paintings are markers of meals had and shared, they are autobiographical in a sense”, explained Gupta.

Subodh Gupta, No Title, 2013

Subodh Gupta, No Title, 2013. Image Credit: http://galleryske.com/SubodhGupta_2013/Works/SubodhGupta_07.html

If you are hungry for more information click here and visit the exhibition! It is on until December 7.

 

%d bloggers like this: