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The nascency of Indian contemporary art can be traced back to the 1970s but it was during the early 1990s, when the country’s economy began to liberalise, and globalisation brought new ideas and influences to the forefront, that the movement really took root. Its development has been crucially facilitated by a growing network of art galleries and institutions that provide a platform for artists to showcase their work. These galleries have played an important role in promoting contemporary Indian art and introducing it to a wider audience, both within South Asia and across the globe. From Kolkata to New Delhi, the below art dealers are expanding the cultural landscape of India by spotlighting the practices of both established and emerging talents, fostering a space for creativity and experimentation, and facilitating a dialogue between artists and the public.

Experimenter | Priyanka & Prateek Raja

In 2009, Prateek and Priyanka Raja co-founded Experimenter in Kolkata, with a decidedly multidisciplinary approach. The gallery serves as an incubator for ambitious and challenging contemporary practices and represents diverse artists from around the world. With a focus on dialogue and dissent, Experimenter is regarded as a pace-setter for its region and supports a range of activity from exhibition-making to knowledge creation through regular talks, performances, workshops, and the annual curatorial intensive dubbed Experimenter Curators’ Hub. In 2018, the gallery expanded with a second, more ambitious space, marking a deeper exploration of its realm of interest. The gallery’s third space, Experimenter – Colaba, was established in 2022, underscoring its commitment to Mumbai and its pluralities in the region.

Project 88 | Sree Goswami Banerjee

Born as an offshoot of Galerie 88, Kolkata, which opened in 1988 and is run by its founder Supriya Banerjee, Project 88 is helmed by her daughter Sree Goswami Banerjee. Once an industrial space, this 100 year old location has been designed by celebrated architect Rahul Mehtrotra, Founder Principal of architecture firm RMA Architects of Mumbai + Boston. Banerjee’s focus is on showcasing emerging and established artists from India and the South Asian region, with a particular emphasis on experimental and interdisciplinary practices. Since its founding, Project 88 has played a significant role in shaping the contemporary art scene in Mumbai and India, and has established itself as one of the leading contemporary art galleries in the country.

Jhaveri Contemporary | Priya & Amrita Jhaveri

Sisters Amrita and Priya Jhaveri established Jhaveri Contemporary in 2010 with the aim of representing artists of different generations and nationalities whose work is influenced by South Asian connections and traditions. The gallerists made history in the Indian art world by organising Sir Anish Kapoor’s inaugural public exhibition in the country in the same year as the gallery’s founding. Jhaveri Contemporary stands out for its commitment to producing original research through thoughtfully curated exhibitions. The gallery seeks to platform diverse practices, embracing both established artists and emerging talents, and often placing their works in unexpected dialogue.

Nature Morte | Peter Nagy & Aparajita Jain

Founded in New York’s East Village in 1982 and closed in 1988, Peter Nagy revived Nature Morte in New Delhi in 1997 as a commercial gallery and a curatorial experiment. Since then, Nature Morte has become synonymous in India with challenging and experimental forms of art, championing conceptual, lens-based, and installation genres and representing a generation of Indian artists who have gone on to international exposure. The gallery now has two exhibition spaces in New Delhi. In addition, the gallery has maintained multiple branches in various locations, including Berlin from 2008-2014 and Kolkata from 2006-2009, among others. Nature Morte also hosts large-scale exhibitions in the Famous Studios, Mumbai.

Chemould Prescott Road | Shireen Gandhy

Established by Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy in Mumbai in 1963, Chemould is one of the first exhibition spaces in India focusing on modern and contemporary art. Since its inception, Chemould has pioneered the early careers of today’s leading artists including S. H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Bhupen Khakhar, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya and L.N. Tallur among others. In 2007, the gallery moved to a large loft-like space in a historic building on Prescott Road. Under the current directorship of Shireen Gandhy, Chemould has placed works in various private and public collections of leading international museums including the Guggenheim Foundation and the Tate Modern. In 2022, a second gallery space in Mumbai was introduced – Chemould CoLab – emphasising new and exciting work by emerging talent, alongside a summer residency programme.

Vadehra Art Gallery | Arun Vadehra

Vadehra Art Gallery, established in 1987 by Arun Vadehra, is one of India’s first art galleries, representing artists spanning over four generations. It boasts an impressive roster of modern masters such as MF Husain, Ram Kumar, SH Raza and Tyeb Mehta, who played a vital role during the gallery’s founding years. In addition to these artists, subsequent generations of modernists like Arpita Singh, Gulammohammed Sheikh, and Rameshwar Broota also find a prominent place in the gallery’s schedule. In 2006, Vadehra established an independent non-profit organisation called Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA), dedicated to supporting artists and fostering a continuous dialogue between the arts and the public through education and active participation in public art projects and funding.

Feature image: Aziz Hazara, Coming Home, 2021–ongoing. Photo: Sher Abbas Aliyar. (via @experimenterkol)

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