Atul Dodiya, Sakti Burman feature in 20th anniv bash for tiny Mumbai gallery

Deep inside Colaba, past Sassoon Dock, in a lane too tiny for traffic, stands Art Musings, a gallery that is literally a speck on the map. It’s a speck that has defied expectations. Art Musings turns 20 this year, becoming one of the oldest surviving galleries in Mumbai.

Sangeeta Raghavan, the gallery’s director, recalls how it operated out of a flat in Cuffe Parade between 1992 and 1999. “My mother, Shanti Chopra, a former media professional, and my aunt Kasturi Wadwani, a naval wife, would set up little shows between the terrace and a small room in their home,” she says. The artists they displayed included big names like MF Husain, SH Raza, FN Souza and Anjolie Ela Menon.

The 20-year celebrations include a year-long cycle of shows, featuring 20 of the gallery’s best-known names and long-time collaborators, all curated by Ranjit Hoskote. There are new works by Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman, Baiju Parthan and Sakti Burman. There are also new paintings by Nilofer Suleman, her daughter Shilo Shiv Suleman, Maya Burman, Atul Dodiya and Nalini Malani.

The first of these shows is The Opening Plenary, which opens on February 12 at the Jehangir Art Gallery. “All 20 artists will be present at the opening,” says Raghavan. The exhibition will also have a lounge in the passageway where Café Samovar used to be. “We plan to display art books and catalogues from over the years, so visitors can walk down memory lane,” says Raghavan. On display also will be rare old letters and drawings by Raza, Husain, Souza and KG Subramanyan, artists that Raghavan calls the “the building blocks” of her gallery.

“Souza was a family friend; Husain and mom knew each other; Anjolie was close to my aunt,” Raghavan says. “When I joined the gallery in 2003, Raza mentored me. We were lucky that we had these people guiding us right from the beginning.”

Five shows at Art Musings follow The Opening Plenary. They are spread over two months each and feature four artists at a time. The first, titled The Castle of Crossed Destinies, will kick off on March 1, and features works from Ajay Dhandre, Baiju Parthan, Chittrovanu Mazumdar and Nandan Purkayastha.

“At the end of the year we plan to release a book on the history of the gallery, the exhibitions we have had and the milestones. It will also have the works of the big artists, such as Raza, Husain and Souza, who are no longer with us but have been instrumental in our growth,” says Raghavan.

First Published: Feb 11, 2019 18:30 IST

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