Opening in February 2024, Hampi Art Labs is an arts centre situated near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi in Karnataka, South India. Spanning 18 acres, the centre provides artists with state of the art production facilities, a nurturing environment in which to create work, and a world-class exhibitions platform. The sprawling site includes gallery spaces, studios, residency apartments, gardens, and a café. Building on a three-decade legacy of supporting the arts and heritage in India, Hampi Art Labs, an initiative of the JSW Foundation, was established by Sangita Jindal and her daughter Tarini Jindal Handa.
Sangita Jindal tells Something Curated: “Hampi Art Labs was uniquely born of place and founded on an ethos of interdisciplinary institution-building inspired by the ancient city of Hampi. JSW Foundation have already completed a lot of work in the area, restoring several temples and setting up the Art Village, Kaladham within the JSW Township in Vijayanagar. Inspired by my mother Urmila Kanoria, founder of one of the first residency programmes in India, and the ancient city of Hampi, I decided to set up Hampi Art Labs. There are few spaces in India like Hampi Art Labs, and the centre will be a major contribution to arts infrastructure and production facilities in the country, supporting cultural growth.”
She continues: “I have always felt a great affinity to Hampi since my first visit in 1983. The ancient city of Hampi is the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar and a place where art, heritage and nature intermingle. With the site also being close to where we operate our largest steel plant and other art-production facilities, it seemed like the perfect place to create an arts centre to nurture and celebrate visual art in all its forms.”
Designed by leading Mumbai-based architect and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture of CEPT University in Ahmedabad, Sameep Padora and his studio sP+a, the centre’s flowing design pays tribute to its natural surroundings through its organic forms and use of locally sourced materials such as soil, stone and steel. Jindal notes: “Inspired by the surrounding landscape, much of the building’s structure mimics the organic shapes and fluid forms carved by the river Tungabhadra through the region. The site complements the surrounding environments with the aim to provide inspiration and foster creative thinking for collaboration and experimentation.
We have known Sameep for a long time and have collaborated on multiple projects such as The Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh, which received international recognition for marrying the socio-cultural expectations of a temple with the site’s ecological framework. Sameep’s vision and poetic style of architecture made him the ideal choice to create a centre that reflects Hampi’s spiritual energy.”
Hampi Art Labs opens with Right Foot First, an exhibition of works from the Jindal Collection from 1998 to present. “The exhibition takes inspiration from the Tungabhadra River that flows through Hampi and the aphorism of “stepping in the same river twice.” Works from the Jindal Collection, spanning a 25-year period from the likes of Lubna Chowdhury, Annie Morris, Atul Dodiya and Andy Warhol are organised in clusters determined by themes to demonstrate cross-generational conversations and interdisciplinary connections across time. The resulting show highlights the multi-decade legacy of patronage within JSW and the progression of South Asian contemporary art that has established itself internationally today,” Jindal explains to SC.
The centre seeks to forge cultural links across South Asia and beyond through its residencies, programming and collaborations with like-minded organisations. The initiative’s founder expands: “Throughout the year, Hampi Art Labs will accept waves of residencies through invitation and open calls. Residency spaces will be primarily for Indian artists, alongside some international ones. Artists will have the opportunity to access production facilities such as workshops for metal sculpture and ceramics, allowing artists to develop their practice and realise more ambitious projects. The programme will help nurture artistic talent in South Asia and promote these artists internationally.”
Feature image: Bharti Kher, Installation view of Right Foot First, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Hampi Art Labs