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Passing on the baton

There is no denying that now is the time for experimental art. As much as we cherish our traditions, the new wave is here to swipe us and it demands stepping out of comfort zones to explore as well as confront newer methods of expression. Back in 1964, Kuljeet Singh Bhutalia began Gita Art Gallery, one of Delhi’s oldest art galleries, with a passion to preserve good works of art. An ardent collector and buyer, Bhutalia’s gallery showcased some of the best names in the art world like M F Husain, SH Raza and F N Souza to name only a few. Bhutalia hosted them in their initial years. Today, these stalwarts have passed, leaving their best works to inspire a newer, younger generation of artists. And so has Bhutalia’s Gita Art Gallery which has never shied away from hosting serious works of art. Reopened as GAG Moderne in New Delhi’s Sadhna Enclave, the space will now be operated by NEANGO Studio, a creative space co-owned by artists Neha Talwar, Anirudh Tripathi and Gopal Mehan.

Says Bhutalia, “After 70 years in the business, it’s with great pride that I hand over the reigns to NEANGO. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with the India’s, as well as the world’s most eclectic artists at a time when the art-business was a personalised affair.” Gita Art Gallery operated out of the Oberoi, New Delhi, before moving to Sadhna Enclave in the year 2000. Thereafter, it was briefly shut down too. “Artists like MF Hussain, FN Souza and Manjit Bawa are all people I was intimately associated with. In it’s new avatar, I believe GAG Moderne will stay true to this style of working with creative people and give them the support and encouragement required to nurture the artist,” he adds.

The opening of GAG Moderne is marked by “Paradox of Silence”, an exhibition of the works of some of the best minds in the country currently, like Rameshwar Broota, Mona Rai, Manish Pushkale, Shobha Broota and Hem Raj, to name a few. “We went to their studios, spent time to understand what we thought was experimental to put this all together,” says Neha. A textile and upholstery artist herself, Neha says that her canvas is different textures and fabrics.

“In reviving this gallery, we are looking at the contemporary art scene and tomorrow’s masters. The idea behind this is to take serious art and artists who are devoting their lives to the field and to promote them internationally. Today we have multidimensional artists, who are not limited to paintings but also sculptures, installations, videos, graphics and what not,” says Anirudh, who is a video and graphic artist, heavily influenced by the Indian philosophies.

Buzzing mosquitoes

As one enters the new GAG Moderne, one sees eight installations supported by a projector and the buzzing noise of a mosquito. The frames each have eight mosquitoes in eight yoga poses, or the Ashtanga yoga. Titled Macahharnama Chapter 1, this is the brain-child of NEANGO. “The mosquito is just a symbol of chaos. It represents the turmoil that is around us. As artists, it was the most difficult thing to conceive and put together,” says Gopal. When we meditate, mosquitoes are the ones that interrupt us. We settle down to meditate and everything is in place except the mosquito. So the idea is to survive, and get on with things, despite disturbances,” he adds.

The month long exhibition will end on 31st March, before GAG Moderne moves on to the next chapter.

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