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Beyond the Art & the Artist: Exploring Art Galleries Through The Lens Of An Art Curator!

Delhi, the capital city of India, has always been a hub of art and culture. With a rich history and a diverse population, Delhi boasts some of the best art galleries in the country. From contemporary to traditional, the city offers a wide range of art galleries that cater to various tastes and preferences and […]

Delhi, the capital city of India, has always been a hub of art and culture. With a rich history and a diverse population, Delhi boasts some of the best art galleries in the country. From contemporary to traditional, the city offers a wide range of art galleries that cater to various tastes and preferences and a major role played in designing a gallery is that of a gallery curator!
Ananya Dobhal, a Digital Curator at the Dragon Year Art Gallery, in Hong Kong shares what art curation is about and shares, “Curating is essentially an art of storytelling, where curators strive to execute the artist’s vision as accurately as possible by providing a narrative and weaving together the exhibition through their creative vision. Curators serve as the bridge between art and its viewers, employing their expertise to curate a cohesive and impactful experience”.
While curating for an art gallery and a museum may differ in context, the role of the curator remains consistent. Dhobal adds, “The primary objective of an art curator is to create compelling narratives and foster meaningful connections between art, artists, and the audience”. An art curator is involved in several areas of work, primarily focusing on exhibition design, interpreting art, conducting research, managing collections, and preserving artwork.
In this article, we will take a look at the top six art galleries in Delhi, what makes them special, and how they are unique, and most importantly, we speak to a museum and exhibition curator who shares how carving and designing can add a unique flavour to each gallery!

National Gallery of Modern Art:
The National Gallery of Modern Art is located in the heart of New Delhi and is one of the most prestigious art institutions in the country. It features a vast collection of contemporary and modern Indian art, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. What makes it unique is that it offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of India through its art and provides a platform for upcoming artists to showcase their work.
According to Dhobal, every gallery or exhibition has its own specific aim and objective and is often guided by a mission statement. “The appeal of a gallery that showcases vintage artwork from a specific region will inherently differ from one that exhibits avant-garde art”, and that’s what distinguishes NGMA from other art exhibits.
Along with this fundamental distinction, other factors such as curatorial concept, artwork selection, display design, lighting, ambience, and architectural elements all contribute to setting each gallery apart from others in a unique way.

The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art:
The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) is a private museum in Delhi that has become a must-visit destination for art lovers. Established in 2010, the museum is the brainchild of Kiran Nadar, an avid art collector who wanted to create a space to showcase contemporary art from India and worldwide. The museum, located in Saket, Delhi, is spread over three floors and has a collection of over 4,000 artworks. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, installations, and new media art, with a focus on modern and contemporary Indian art. The museum’s collection is diverse, with works ranging from the 19th century to the present day. It also remains a top place for artists to come together and engage in a discursive discussion.
The role of a curator in an art gallery is similar to that of a manager, as they are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the gallery’s operations. While no two days are alike, there are certain recurring tasks and busy periods in the field. Commenting on managing and designing exhibitions and public events, Dhobal shares, “We immerse ourselves in exhibition design, crafting a narrative, arranging and hanging artworks, and initiating marketing efforts. We need to plan opening nights, liaison closely with artists and other collaborators, and develop interpretive materials to engage the audience. Once an exhibition is live, the general course is to shift the focus towards organising outreach initiatives”.
A majority of curatorial walks, workshops, immersive events, scholarly activities, publications, research, and professional networking is headed and planned by the curators. “For long-term collections, we dedicate time to inventory management, documentation, preventative conservation and research to understand the historical and cultural significance of each artwork”, Dhobal concludes.

Vadehra Art Gallery:
Vadehra Art Gallery is a prominent art space located in the heart of New Delhi, India. Founded in 1987 by Arun Vadehra, the gallery has become renowned for its commitment to showcasing contemporary Indian art and promoting emerging artists. The gallery’s mission is to provide a platform for young and established artists to exhibit their work and engage with a diverse audience. The gallery boasts a spacious, well-lit exhibition space that can accommodate a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, installations, and video art.
The museum’s contemporary appeal makes it stand out and a major chunk of it is owed to the curators who assume the responsibility for overseeing all aspects of a gallery’s day-to-day operations. Dhobal highlights, “They (curators) are involved in shaping the gallery’s concept, vision, curation, interpretation, design, and collaborations, including special projects. The curator plans outreach efforts and organises events that align with the gallery’s mission statement, thereby setting the course for its exhibitions”. The unique direction and character of the gallery, as well as specific exhibitions, are driven by the curator’s creativity and visionary approach.
One of the standout features of Vadehra Art Gallery is its commitment to showcasing socially relevant art that engages with contemporary issues such as gender, politics, and identity. The gallery’s curatorial team is dedicated to presenting works that challenge preconceived notions and spark critical thought.

Nature Morte:
Nature Morte is a contemporary art gallery located in New Delhi, India, that has been at the forefront of promoting cutting-edge contemporary art in the country since 1997. The gallery has established itself as a leading voice in the Indian art scene and has played a vital role in shaping its development over the years. Nature Morte has a reputation for showcasing works that push the boundaries of contemporary art, and for promoting emerging artists who are experimenting with new forms and techniques. The gallery is known for its focus on conceptual art, and for its support of artists who are exploring themes such as identity, gender, and politics. One of the unique features of Nature Morte is its commitment to showcasing works by Indian artists who are based abroad, as well as international artists who are exploring themes that are relevant to the Indian context. The gallery’s focus on cross-cultural dialogue has allowed it to play an important role in shaping the global contemporary art discourse.
Dhobal believes that while curating an exhibition, the focus should not be on standing out from other galleries or exhibits, but rather on honouring the artist’s practice and artworks. She adds, “My aim is to maintain authenticity and closely align the curation with the artist’s style and vision. Since each artist’s style is distinctive, it naturally leads to exciting and different outcomes with every exhibition. I enjoy exploring distinctive curatorial concepts that are thought-provoking and try to select artworks that offer fresh views of the world”.
In consonance with the gallery’s look and feel, curators value understanding the visitors’ perspective and strive to design the display in an immersive manner.
Nature Morte’s exhibition space is designed to showcase works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, video, and installation. The gallery also hosts talks, workshops, and other events that encourage intellectual engagement and critical thinking.

Bikaner House Gallery:
Bikaner House Gallery located in Delhi, India is a prominent cultural hotspot that is perfect for art enthusiasts. The gallery showcases the best contemporary art exhibitions, performances, and cultural events that are attended by both local and international visitors. Bikaner House is a beautiful heritage building once the residence of the Maharaja of Bikaner. The gallery is a unique blend of history and modernity, with a stunning façade that showcases the beauty of Rajasthani architecture.
The exhibitions cover a wide range of mediums, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and installations. With each exhibition, the Bikaner House Gallery aims to provide new perspectives and showcase the diversity of contemporary art in India. Apart from art exhibitions, Bikaner House Gallery also hosts cultural events such as music concerts, film screenings, and panel discussions.
In galleries like these, the curator serves as a bridge between the artist’s creations and the audience, selecting and presenting artworks to the world. While the artist is the creator, the curator acts as an interpreter and presenter of art. Sharing the process of curating an exhibition, Dhobal shares that while the specific process of exhibition designing varies depending on the exhibition’s theme, size, and available resources, “there are some general steps which revolve around setting the narrative, selecting the artwork, making a floor plan, devising the lighting strategy, and finalising the mood and tone of the exhibition”.
These steps, when followed and aligned well with the lineup of events, provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to engage with artists and understand their art and creative process better.

Lalit Kala Akademi Gallery:
The Lalit Kala Akademi Gallery, located in the heart of New Delhi, India, is a premier national institution dedicated to the promotion and development of Indian art and artists. The gallery is a spacious, well-lit exhibition space that showcases a diverse range of art forms, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography. The gallery’s exhibition program features works by both established and emerging artists and includes exhibitions of traditional art forms such as folk art and tribal art.
One of the unique features of Lalit Kala Akademi Gallery is its commitment to supporting and promoting emerging artists. The gallery provides a platform for young and emerging artists to exhibit their work and also provides them with opportunities to participate in workshops and other events that help to develop their skills and promote their practice. Emphasising the upliftment and promotion of the artists, Dhobal adds, “We work collaboratively with the artist to develop a concept for the exhibition or display. This includes deciding on themes, narratives, or any specific messages the artist wants to convey. Curating and selecting the artworks that best represent the artist’s vision and align with the exhibition concept is the key and we always consider factors such as artistic quality, relevance to the theme, and the desired impact on the audience”.
The gallery’s curatorial team is dedicated to promoting and showcasing the diversity and richness of Indian art. In addition to exhibitions, the gallery also hosts talks, seminars, and other events that encourage dialogue and promote artistic exchange. Dhobal strongly believes that every exhibition needs an opening event to celebrate the artist and their exhibition and to maximise the reach and impact. “From artist talks and curatorial walks to panel discussions or performances – all of it is crucial to further engage the audience and provide insights into the artist’s work”, Dhobal concludes.

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