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Inquiring the importance of Mumbai Gallery Weekend in expanding the art economy

STIR speaks with some of the participating galleries at the Mumbai gallery Weekend 2023, which brings together art collectors and enthusiasts for the event spread across four days.

by Pallavi MehraPublished on : Jan 12, 2023

The Mumbai Gallery Weekend, which started in 2012 with a line up of nine contemporary art galleries, is back for its 11th edition with a collection of 32 art galleries. Since its inception, the event has played a pivotal role in the Indian art landscape and this year's festival is taking place from January 12 to 15, 2023 in Mumbai, India. The much-awaited edition of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend includes a wider range of art galleries from the city, and features both old and new galleries, located throughout the city—from Colaba, Fort, Kala Ghoda, Ballard Estate, Worli, to Lower Parel, Byculla and Bandra. The aim of this four-day immersive art event is to engage viewers with thought-provoking and norm-challenging paintings, sculptures, photographs, media artworks, installations, decorative arts, and design. Additionally, the art festival curators hope to introduce new and upcoming artists to Indian audiences.

This weekend, DAG is showcasing a single work of art at their space in the Taj Mahal Hotel—the first-ever commissioned portrait by Raja Ravi Varma. In addition, digital art platforms such as The Upside Space is hosting pop up exhibitions, along with a number of galleries hosting talks and other interactive sessions. Newly opened art gallery Art and Charlie, has also organised a dance performance by director, producer and performance artist Gia Singh Arora, titled BhooterNach (The Ghost Dance).

Glasshouse Deep by Rohini Devasher showcased at Project 88| Mumbai Gallery Weekend | Rohini Devasher | STIRworld
Glasshouse Deep by Rohini Devasher showcased at Project 88 Image: Courtesy of Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023

To gain insights on the event, STIR spoke with some of the participating art galleries of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023. Shireen Gandhy, director of Chemould Prescott Road, the gallery presenting works by renowned Indian artist Atul Dodiya, known for engaging with political history and art history by entwining global /public memory and local/personal experience through his paintings and assemblages, shared, “We are really excited to be showcasing Atul Dodiya’s solo exhibition. It’s very significant for us at Chemould Prescott Road that we are showing his works at the beginning of the year. We are also embarking on 60 years of Chemould. It's very special to everyone at the gallery and to Atul and our collective relationship that we showcase his work at the Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023.”

Adding on the excitement of presenting at the Mumbai Gallery Weekend, Hena Kapadia, founder of TARQ, said, “Mumbai Gallery Weekend has always been a special weekend for us at TARQ. All the galleries open new shows in January, and usually the artists are around so collectors and artists can interact with each other. It’s very exciting to be hosting Apnavi Makanji’s second solo show. Apnavi’s work has grown by leaps and bounds since the last time we showed it.”

Styx by Apnavi Makanji showcased at TARQ | Mumbai Gallery Weekend | Apnavi Makanji | STIRworld
Styx by Apnavi Makanji showcased at TARQ Image: Courtesy of Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023

Elaborating on the importance of the MGW, their decade long commitment to the arts and what it means for the Indian art scene, Mortimer Chatterjee, gallerist at Chatterjee & Lal said, “Mumbai Gallery Weekend is and has been an important part of the Indian art ecosystem for more than a decade now. It’s really important as a node on the art calendar, which we have in the country. It’s an opportunity for gallerists to come together and act as a community to show the best side of our programmes as well as our spaces. It’s also our way of thanking our collectors for being there for us, over the years. So it fulfils many purposes.”

Sharing similar thoughts and expounding on the art fair's ability to bring forth a diverse range of participants, galleries and artists, Sunaina Rajan, co-founder of Chemould CoLab, noted, “What makes Mumbai Gallery Weekend so significant is its diversity of participating galleries and that it's free and open with extended hours offered to all participants. What I find special are the programmes hosted by galleries, which includes talks, exhibition walkthroughs, meet and greets with artists, panel discussions and other events. There’s something for everyone.”  

Still life, 2022, Oil on canvas (Triptych) by T. Venkanna, showcased at Gallery Maskara | Mumbai Gallery Weekend | T. Venkanna | STIRworld
Still life, 2022, Oil on canvas (Triptych) by T. Venkanna, showcased at Gallery Maskara Image: Courtesy of Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023

Highlights of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023 include Experimeter—Colaba, Chemould CoLab, Art and Charlie, and the Ice Factory Ballard Estate—which will host a Young Collectors' Weekend, all of whom are hosting unique shows.

"I am so excited to be bringing Young Collectors' Weekend to Mumbai alongside Mumbai Gallery Weekend. We will be showcasing a group show at IFBE this weekend. The Mumbai Gallery weekend started as a small initiative in 2012 but its significance cannot be overstated," remarks Teesta Bhandare, co-founder and director, Young Collectors' Weekend.

Priyanka Raja, the co-founder of Experimenter—Colaba, whose gallery is displaying Soumya Sankar Bose's solo show A Discreet Exit through Darkness, spoke to STIR about the importance of an artist like Sankar who delves into themes erased from collective public memory. “The reason we decided to show photographer Soumya Sankar Bose’s solo show A Discreet Exit through Darkness is because it's a very personal project for Soumya and our hearts. He recreates forgotten incidents, most of which have been removed from public memory. In 1969, his mom was kidnapped when she was eight or nine years old, and was mysteriously returned after three years. Soumya was intrigued by that time and wanted to recreate it by delving into whatever material he had. We are also very happy to be showing the photographs in the form of the first virtual reality (VR) non-animated feature-length film," said Raja.

Artist Demsky’s works, which will be showcase at Method Kala Ghoda| Courtesy Mumbai Gallery Weekend | Demsky| STIRworld
Artist Demsky’s works, being showcased at Method Kala Ghoda Image: Courtesy of Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023

The participating galleries at Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023 are showcasing path-breaking works of established and new artists, adding on that Ranjana Steinruecke, director of Gallery Mirchandani + Steinruecke, said, “Galleries typically like to have their most important shows of the year for Mumbai Gallery Weekend. We are showing the works of CK Rajan, which has been in the pipeline for a while. The show has been curated by Grant Watson who is also flying down for the weekend.”

Abhay Kumara Maskara, the director of Gallery Maskara, who are presenting works of artist T Venkanna, known for being an unconventional and versatile artist with a M.F.A in printmaking, said of the event, “It’s the 11th edition of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend. It has been becoming bigger and better with each successive year. We are showing the works of artist T. Venkanna, which include small format watercolour works and monumental works.”

Artist Dawn Beckles at SqWLab | SqWLab| SqWLab| STIRworld
Artist Dawn Beckles at SqWLab Image: Courtesy of Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2023

The Mumbai Gallery Weekend is also an exciting time for the art community to come together under one roof. “The event places Mumbai as the centre of art and culture. It’s very inclusive, democratic and it's free for all, so please come and visit us. For young collectors it’s a great time to come and meet the artists,” remarks Sree Goswami, director, Project 88.

“The Mumbai Gallery Weekend is a great opportunity for artists, organisations and audiences to come together and celebrate one another,” concludes Charlie Levine, independent curator and artistic director, who is curating the show at SqW:Lab.

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