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Best Mumbai art galleries
In the Indian context, Mumbai's hip private gallery spaces are hard to beat
In a city that inspires enterprise as much as it inspires creators of art, there’s a new gallery opening everywhere you look in Mumbai.
From converted warehouses and ordinary rooms, here are some of the best art galleries in Mumbai, selected not just for their spaces but for the people whose vision drives what goes on within.
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Chemould Prescott Road
One has to start with the oldest and most enduring gallery. The original quaint, semi-circular walled Chemould gallery, on the first floor of the Jehangir Art Gallery, was started in 1963 by Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy.
Now, with daughter Shireen taking charge, it’s morphed capaciously in name and space into Chemould Prescott Road.
Modern and younger artists have exhibited with the Gandhys, the program is a mix of old stalwarts and mid-career contemporary stars.
And here, along with a painting, will come a story of Mumbai’s pre- and post-hype art world. Because Chemould was, and still is, an "adda" for all visitors who come to Mumbai -- in local speak, an informal intellectual gathering or exchange of ideas.
Coming up to its 50th anniversary, Chemould has become an institution with an artist roster roll call of the most sought-after artists in India.
Queen’s Mansion, 2/F, G. Talwatkar Marg, Fort; +91 (0)22 2200 0211/2; www.gallerychemould.com
Gallerist Sree Goswami personifies everything Mumbai art gallery Project 88 stands for: she has style and vision and is vociferous and articulate about the art she shows.
And she is young and brings in fresh, unseen, innovative and sometimes plain perplexing shows to this gallery.
A former printing press, the curved metal beams and iron pillars stand resolutely in Project 88's superb contemporary conversion of space.
If you're looking for a mix of media: from drawings to video, sculpture to graphic novel art, installations, or even a book reading this is your destination.
BMP Building, G/F, N.A. Sawant Marg, near Colaba Fire Station, Colaba; +91 (0)22 2281 0066; www.project88.in
Galerie Mirchandani & Steinruecke
Mother and daughter Usha Mirchandani and Ranjana Steinrucke bring their impeccable personal style to a program that has courageously brought the likes of artists Kiki Smith, Jonathon Meese and now Wolfgang Laib to our shores.
In addition, young artists are nurtured from first solos to promising careers by sustained backing over the years. And yet the gallery smacks of old-world charm.
You have to ring a bell to get in to its high-ceilinged environs, but once inside, the stark, multi-roomed gallery is contemporary in its minimalism and varied in its showing of art.
2 Sunny House, 16/18 Merewether Road, behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Colaba; +91 (0)22 2202 3030; www.galeriems.com
Geetha Mehra has moved five times with her gallery. From Bangalore and Chennai, through three sites in Mumbai: an apartment on Altamont Road to a mill in Lower Parel and now to the ground floor of a Colaba mansion block. Mehra's even opened a branch in Taiwan.
The result is reflected in the artists shown, an eclectic mix from all over the country and abroad.
They have a healthy representation of moderns but are also never shy to showcase the bold: there’s bling and innovation here in Sakshi Gallery's contemporary practice.
It is the gallery whose stock rooms we loved to prowl. And when you do, ask for the affable Usha Gawde to guide you through them.
Tanna House, G/F, 11-A Nathalal Parekh Marg, Colaba; +91 (0)22 6690 9191; www.sakshigallery.com
Chatterjee & Lal
This gallery has a strong roster for performance-based artists.
Nikhil Chopra did a memorable three day live-in at the gallery, drawing Colaba views and metamorphosing from painter to aristocrat.
More recently, artist Tino Sehgal, who will undertake the annual commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2012, premiered his performance piece in India, here.
It’s a treat if you are in the city and can catch a Chatterjee & Lal performance-based show, and there’s no other gallery in the city that programs it as regularly.
While performance art is new to many, the articulate curators Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal will guide you through the meaning of it all. You’ll be charmed by this duo.
Ask to see their modern and contemporary photography, young artists works and video pieces too.
01/18 Kamal Mansion Floor 1, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba; +91 (0)22 2202 3787; www.chatterjeeandlal.com
Tushar Jiwarajka started his gallery in 2009 with some car bashing.
On opening night, we were bussed to a disused mill where artist Mukul Deora vented his all on a piece of functioning metal.
After a lull in its program, the gallery sprang back last year with an exhilarating exhibition of artist Ranbir Kaleka’s canvas and video works. Since then Jiwarajka seems to have decided video is the gallery’s oeuvre.
In November 2011, artist Sheba Chhachhi’s light-boxes investigated and illuminated environmental issues and the mythic.
Volte' shows seem to have the potential to open up new ways of seeing, and for that we hope to go back for more.
2/19, 1/F, Kamal Mahal, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba; +91 (0)22 2204 1220; www.volte.in
A converted warehouse, Gallery Maskara is large enough to park a light aircraft, but owner and curator Abhay Maskara chooses to park his passionate vision in this project space.
He refers to his space as "warehouse on 3rd Pasta," after the name of the lane where it's located.
Gallery Maskara has been the venue of the unusual and unexpected -- partly because of the immense opportunity a 31.5-meter long and 14-meter high space offers as a challenge to the artist.
So we’ve witnessed dust sculptures and heard the whirr of projectors screening video art in offbeat ways. We've seen huge dung sculptures and soaring graffiti art within these gallery walls. As well as mercury-filled sculptures, not to mention tears, urine, blood and sweat.
Where’s oil and watercolor, you ask? It’s all there. But in this space, never in the way you’d expect it to be.
Warehouse on 3rd Pasta, 6/7 3rd Pasta Lane, Colaba; +91 (0)22 2202 3056; www.gallerymaskara.com
Lakeeren: The Contemporary Art Gallery
Arshiya Lokhandwala has to be the gallerist with the most impeccable academic qualifications.
She took a sabbatical from running the gallery while she acquired a PhD in history of art from Cornell University.
Go here for shows curated with a post-colonial bent of mind -- politics drives Lokhandwala's curation, and she’ll eagerly absorb you in a discourse as to the reasons behind the artist’s practice.
South Asian artists have been given a successful platform at Lakeeren.
The gallery has also embarked on a lecture series that aims to educate an audience through related arts, such as architecture, cinema, advertising and literature.
6/18 Grant’s Building, 2/F, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba; +91 (0)22 6522 4179; www.lakeerengallery.com
The Guild Art Gallery
Gallerist Shalini Sawhney allows artists and curators to really experiment at her space; so the discourse here is varied and we never know quite what to expect.
She’s given established painter Gieve Patel a chance to turn sculptor, younger artists like Prajakta Potnis have broken the mold here, and currently artist Ravi Agarwal documents the labor of India's waste pickers in a solo show.
We’ve seen a lot of video at The Guild too: the first to show video from the Middle East extensively, Shireen Neshat’s "Turbulent" still haunts us.
02/32 Kamal Mansion, 2/F, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba; +91 (0)22 2288 0116; www.guildindia.com
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
Well, it’s not strictly a gallery, but honorary director Tasneem Mehta’s dedicated effort to show contemporary art at the Bhau Daji Lad (BDL) Mumbai City Museum is her way of bringing the museum up-to-date in the context of contemporary art.
She is also able to reconnect the museum it to its past, when the museum’s director was also the principal of the J.J. School of Art.
In the midst of the most curious permanent museum pieces, such as old world dioramas and porcelain, some of India's reigning top contemporary artists have galvanized the superbly restored building to their ends and means.
It has become the museum of choice to visit while in Mumbai to see contemporary art, even as the National Gallery of Modern Art (run by the government's ministry of culture) lies shamefully fallow, with barely any programs held in the year.
Nip into the adjoining zoo and surrounding gardens after you're done here.
Veermata Jijabai Udyaan, Rani Baug, Ambedkar Road, in the Byculla Zoo gardens; +91 (0)22 2290 2596; www.bdlmuseum.org
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3 notable newer Mumbai art galleries
The Jhaveri sisters, Amrita and Priya, respected art dealers and consultants, have carried their passion into a practice, establishing Amrita and Priya Jhaveri's Project Space -- a small but engaging gallery with all the rigor of a larger establishment.
Likewise, Susan Hapgood, a curator for many years in New York, who relocated last year to Mumbai and opened Mumbai Art Room.
Hapgood’s managed to pull in the art cognoscenti to her rather grim space, opening with artist Nathalie Djurberg’s video installation and serving super bite-sized sandwiches.
Gradually and subtly Amrita and Priya Jhaveri's Project Space and Mumbai Art Room have garnered attention by creating unusual spaces; and also by featuring artists whose works one would not normally see in India, but more likely in galleries in Berlin or London or perhaps the Venice Biennale. And it’s been a treat for Mumbai.
Matthieu Foss's eponymous gallery is probably the only one in the city dedicated solely to photography.
Foss is French, but in this ground-floor space in Ballard Estate he focuses on India, primarily, as the muse: both Indian and non-Indian photographers have been exhibited here.
You can see classic photography as well as experimentation, and with a year-round program, it’s a good place for a neophyte collector to start a collection.
Amrita and Priya Jhaveri's Project Space, 58A Krishna Niwas, Walkeshwar Road; +91 (0)22 2369 3639; www.amritajhaveri.com
Mumbai Art Room, G/F, Pipewala Building, 4th Pasta Lane, Colaba;+91 97699 50136; www.mumbaiartroom.org
Matthieu Foss Gallery, Hansraj Damodar Building, G/F, Goa Street, Ballard Estate; +91 (0)22 6747 7261; www.matthieufossgallery.com
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