Mumbai gets its own Delhi Art Gallery
Oct 27 2013
Titled ‘Mumbai Modern: Progressive Artists Group 1947-2013’, the launch show featured 200 works of the 13 artists who have been part of PAG, beginning with its founder members MF Husain, FN Souza, HA Gade, SH Raza, KH Ara and SK Bakre. The show, which opened on October 25, was held at Delhi Art Gallery’s new premises at Kala Ghoda — an area known as the hub of art in Mumbai. The building where DAG is located, is being converted into a well-designed art space which will include DAG’s ‘permanent gallery collection’ on the 2nd floor and exhibition space for ongoing shows on the ground and 1st floors. Since DAG is now no longer a Delhi-centric gallery and is beginning to be known at the larger cities for their rather grand art exhibitions that move from one metro to the other, Mumbai’s art lovers can look forward to some of India’s best art shows in the years to come.
The gallery’s launch exhibition is somewhat of a retrospective of the famous Progressive Artist’s Group, whose founder members can be said to have dominated the progress of Indian art right from the time of India’s independence. The Bombay group which decided to come together in 1947, started out in a small way, and even though it floundered somewhat in the early years, its members began to command more and more admiration and stature in the years to come with their various art styles. Today, no international auction on Indian art is complete without the works of Souza, Husain and Raza.
Kishore Singh, who heads DAG’s Exhibitions and Publications activity, is on record as having said, “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”. In its usual style, DAG’s current exhibition will be accompanied by an informative and well-designed book on the Progressive Artists Group. The 500-page book, with its extensively researched content, will offer a fascinating glimpse of the progress each member of the group has achieved in their art. While a number of the founder members are no more, their art continues to gain in popularity, commanding some of the highest prices in the Indian art arena. About the exhibition, Ashish Anand, director Delhi Art Gallery, believes that the exhibition’s timeline of 1947-2013, “gives it a definite sense of the period over which the works and careers of the artists have been tracked.”
Mumbaikars are often mentioned as the most ‘art-aware’ public in India, with the entrance of this Delhi Gallery into their midst, what might be the reaction both among the art galleries and the public? Kishore Singh, on whom rests the responsibility of creating the high quality of the exhibitions that DAG has come to be known for, has the last word when he says, “We won’t have competition, rather we would bring competition.”
(The writer is an author and a former art gallery owner)