Before the art world sets off for New Delhi and the India Art Fair (IAF), they will be making a pit-stop in the Maximum City to catch the Mumbai Gallery Weekend. Taking place over the course of four days — across 34 galleries and design venues ranging from Colaba and Fort to Byculla and Bandra — the 11th edition boasts several new shows, including DAG’s The Orientals’ Benares, a series of talks at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), a young collectors’ pop-up, and live events and performances. Rekha Rodwittiya’s show at Sakshi Gallery and Sudarshan Shetty’s installation at IF.BE are highly anticipated.
The Mumbai Gallery Weekend, which started out with nine city galleries decamping to Bandra for a weekend to showcase their best-known artists, has grown into a way to democratise art, drawing in collectors and neophytes. In a varied mix of spaces, a range of artists will be showcased — spanning career retrospectives, off-site video retrospectives and a variety of media.
Shireen Gandhy, this year’s spokesperson, and director at Chemould Prescott Road, lays out its importance: “You are in your own city, with a sense of ownership by its public. So, from being formidable spaces, these become familiar spaces. If the art feels alien, there are art walks by teams such as Art and Wonderment [a duo that aims to broaden art appreciation] that create access to art in galleries. The weekend creates new social circumstances within one’s city.”
Besides shows by Muhanned Cader, Ashwini Bhat and Sangram Majumdar at Jhaveri Contemporary, Project 88 and Mirchandani + Steinrucke respectively, Gandhy is most looking forward to Bombay Tilts Down, a seven channel installation. “The 96-foot projection by CAMP includes histories and moving images, housing, infrastructure, and pleasure.”
With a lot to choose from, a few art world insiders share what they’re most looking forward to this weekend.
Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej DEI Lab
Must catch: Shows at Tao Art Gallery, Tarq and Experimenter Colaba
“I am taking my team to see the shows. We’re treating Mumbai Gallery Weekend as our first team outing, so it’s going to be great fun. I really like the mixture of shows and off-site events this time. I love Tarq and I’m looking forward to Areez’s exhibition; I’m also excited about Experimenter — ever since they’ve opened, I’ve loved what they’re doing. I can’t wait to see Sohrab Hura’s show there. Besides that, what I really like are some of the off-site events; Bombay Tilts Down is so interesting. I saw it earlier, when it was presented at Sassoon Docks by St+art, but I’m so glad it’s coming back because that experience was great. I like Shaunak Mahbubani’s curation, and he is curating Seema Kohli at Tao Art Gallery. I normally wouldn’t go to a Tao [all the way across] in Worli, but we’re going to try and do as much as we can.”
Anish Gawande, writer and translator
Must catch: The talk on Curatorial Futures at the CSMVS Amphitheatre
“I’m most excited about the talk on Curatorial Futures at the CSMVS amphitheatre [on January 13]. It has three really incredible people: Sabih Ahmed, who’s now at Ishara Art Foundation, Nawar Al Qassimi, who’s at Sharjah Art Foundation, and Dawn Ross, who’s at Art Jameel. They will be talking about art foundations in the UAE, which I think will be really useful to allow galleries and public institutions across India to get an understanding of what non-commercial art spaces can look like. And also the possibilities that can open up for artists, curators and writers to explore how to create for settings that aren’t necessarily geared towards sales. That’s something I explored at Art Mumbai — the curatorial work that I did for Vadehra Art Gallery was centred around the city’s reading rooms and the idea of public art and how it can come into spaces that have nurtured so many artists and writers.”
Samira Rathod, architect
Must catch: Shows by painter Muhanned Cader
“There are 30 galleries participating and each has interesting shows. But from the little I know, a lot of it also seems [to invoke] a bit of a déjà vu. Unfortunately, that’s happening to the whole art world now. I wouldn’t call it derivative, but some of it seems like it’s derived from the western world and 20 years later, we’re doing it. So that’s a bit disconcerting. But I’m also observing that there’s a lot of influence from other professions into art and vice versa. Thanks to digital mediums and social media, and everyone having a glimpse of everything, nobody is really in a silo anymore. I’m looking forward to catching [visual artist] Muhanned Cader’s work at Jhaveri Contemporary.”
“ The one I’m most excited about is because he’s my friend but he’s also so insanely talented and it’s also his new body of work. ”Smita LasradoCo-founder of Feat. Artists
Areez Katki, artist
Must catch: the SqW:Lab presentation
“The increased engagement facilitated by the active programming and extended hours at the galleries during the Mumbai Gallery Weekend undoubtedly results in bigger reach and multifarious conversations with all kinds of audiences. It’s wonderful to share this energetic space with artists and art enthusiasts alike. I wasn’t able to leave Aotearoa in New Zealad during my first solo presentation at TARQ due to COVID, so this is the first time I’m able to engage with audiences in India. It feels very meaningful and generative to be involved in person. I am very keen on exploring the work underway at SqW:Lab [feminist performance scholar Jessica Del Vecchio and multiform installation artist John Ros’ mixed media performance], as well as Sohrab Hura’s show at Experimenter Colaba. I’m also quite excited to see the recent works by Nikhil Chopra at Chatterjee & Lal.”
Ravi Vazirani – architect
Must catch: Areez Katki’s show at TARQ and Sohrab Hura’s at Experimenter
“Sometimes it’s nice to gallery-hop just for the experience, and to consume art without a financial aspect of it. Just enjoy the space and see what the art is doing in the space. Seeing shows at Maskara is always exciting because of the scale of the gallery. I’m very excited to see Sohrab Hura at Experimenter [Colaba, where he’s presenting gouache paintings on paper]. I’m not very familiar with his work, but I respond to it. Also, with Experimenter, I love the programming that they do and how invested they are in their artists. TARQ has Areez Katki, I’m a big fan of his work. In fact, a few years ago, there was a ridiculously beautiful embroidered work that I really wish I had brought — it said ‘Homo sweet homo’. That’s how art makes an impact on you. When I think of Areez, I think of that work and I still regret not buying it.”
Sangeeta Raghavan – owner, Art Musings gallery
Must catch: Anjolie Ela Menon’s show and Gallery XXL’s curation
“When you think of artists, you think of names such as M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza and Anjolie Ela Menon. Anjolie is showing in Mumbai after nearly nine years, in a solo exhibition. It’s great because you will be seeing a fresh body of work [at Art Musings]. What is also a special treat is that I have borrowed five works from the family collection, which we’re showcasing too.
“I’m excited to catch the others shows at all the galleries because I feel everybody really puts their best foot forward. I find Anant Joshi’s work intriguing and it’s a big show, so it will be interesting to immerse yourself in it at Chemould Prescott Road. I’m also looking forward to Gallery XXL’s curation because I like Al-Qawi Tazal Nanavati and I want to see what Hanif Kureshi has done. I’m sure it will be interesting because they have a different edge to most things.”
The writer is based in Mumbai.