To buy great art is to make an investment. Discovering the talent of the artist early, and by purchasing his artworks, supporting him in becoming accepted by the world. Collectors play a big role, but there are also the people who set up private art galleries as acts of charity in order to nurture rich art scenes in the world.

I wanted to know which place was the hottest right now, so when I asked gallerists and people connected with art in Delhi, a high percentage of people replied with “Kiran Nadar Museum of Art”. Established by Kiran Nadar, one of India’s leading art collectors in 2010, it is India’s first private museum.

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art(KNMA)

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art – NEW DELHI
145, DLF South Court Mall, Saket
New Delhi, Delhi 110017
+91 (0)11 4916 0000
Timings 10:30am – 6:30pm

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art – NOIDA
Plot No.3A, Sector 126,
Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
+91 (0)120 468 3289
Timings 10:30am – 6:30pm

Holiday Monday, public holidays

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. Its large 18,000 sq.ft premises are inside a shopping mall.

It is said that the act of finding art to decorate the house presented the opportunity. As she started collecting art, she increased her knowledge, became fascinated by art, and her collection expanded to a huge volume. Rather than keeping it a warehouse, art should be shared in general. What realised her idea of creating a space as a base and as a location for exchange where art, which should also be viewed, would be talked about, debated and evaluated – was this private museum.

The lady, who is married to Shiv Nadar, the founder of the Indian technology company HCL (Hindustan Computers Limited), continues to ambitiously add artworks by Indian modern and contemporary artists to the museum’s collection using funds from the foundation where she also serves on the board of directors as capital. The collection, which reached 5,500 items in 2017, will be used for the purpose of leaving art behind for posterity, rather than as private property.

The choice of a private museum over a commercial gallery was in order to create a society that is committed to commonality and has cultural richness. Looking at America, starting with the palace of modern art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; including the Whitney and the Guggenheim also started with collections by foundations.

Piece by Jitish Kallat, a renowned Indian contemporary artist.

It should be noted from the two points below that private museums can be said to supplement what public museums cannot do – firstly, it can include artworks of critical acclaim. It can deal even in artworks with themes that are important yet radical, such as those declared taboo by Indian society.

The next is cultivating art appreciation. “In addition to collecting artworks of value, our target is to be a museum as a space for acquiring creative expression through art”, and they are thus putting effort into art education for younger generations. Participatory workshop sessions for adults as well as for children, video screenings of talks by artists, etc. are also held on occasion.

A workshop held in the room where M.F. Husain’s earlier works were exhibited.

[Introduction to the exhibition]

from the statement :
‘Stretched Terrains’ [… is] a set of seven independent and yet interconnected exhibitions [… that …] desires to rewind, excavate and re-examine a set of enquiries around ‘modernity’ that came up in the past decades.

In its entireness this manifold exhibition brings out the multiform, tenors and textures of modernism in Indian art through three profound exhibitions of M.F.Husain, F.N.Souza andS.H.Raza, and an exhibition highlighting the works of five architects and seminal architectural buildings in Delhi. On another axis it strings together works of contemporary artists Atul Dodiya, Mithu Sen, Pushpamala N. and Navjot Altaf who critique as well as play with the modernist vocabulary at various junctures. Providing an exciting interstitiality between these two approaches are Parthiv Shah’s photographs of Husain and the films and documents from the Vision Exchange Workshop held in Bombay between 1969-1972.

Models, blueprints and photo records by architects of the 1960’s to the 1980’s, Raj Rewal, Mahendra Raj, Kuldip Singh, Habib Rahman, Kanvinde.
M. F. Husain, said to be the Indian Picasso. He was taken to court over his nude portrayals of Hindu gods and goddesses, and was forced to go abroad. Picture by Parthiv Shah.
The work of F.N. Souza, who drew motifs of Christianity and nude women in strong, bold lines, is also influenced by the folk art of his place of origin, Goa.
S.H. Raza moved to Paris in 1950, but left behind works that recollect his homeland, India.
An installation piece by Atul Dodiya that presents realistic religious and political insights into everyday life.

The Nadar collection has been covering all major areas of modern (from the latter half of the 19th century as per Indian art history) and contemporary art for more than 20 years. The curation that has been recompiled from within such a huge collection is impressive, and a new discovery in itself.

The intention of the curator is for the current exhibition to showcase geographical (of region and society), spatial (of architecture and art), and temporal (of the confluence of the modern and contemporary in the art scene) tangents, along with trying to “stretch” the boundaries between concepts and the power of imagination.

The impression that remained with me was of a feeling that the spirit of critique was handed down to contemporary artists from the artworks – such as the images that challenged sexual taboos – left behind by the masters (this was the only sealed room and photography was prohibited).

Mithu Sen’s drawings question gender perception.

I have seen the callous treatment of of artworks in public museums in India, but I can see that here the optimum conditions of lighting and space for viewing art are implemented, and that attention is also paid to maintaining the artworks in a state of good preservation.
Digests of the exhibited artworks and booklets containing commentaries were also being distributed. The way of enjoying contemporary art changes based on the availability of background knowledge. It is a museum where attentive dedication is visible everywhere, in order to spread that charm widely.

Through art, one can know India’s “present”. I would very much like you to witness the representations of the artists!

Reference sites
The Economic Times | YourStory

Pictures were taken with permission. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Photographs・Text = Yoko Kobayashi (translated by Aumurto Chaudhury)

Experiencing Indian Contemporary Art in Delhi [1]
Experiencing Indian Contemporary Art in Delhi [2]
Experiencing Indian Contemporary Art in Delhi [3]

This post is also available in Japanese.