“The Gallery Is Dead, Long Live The Gallery”


In 2009, collector turned gallerist Tushar Jivarajka of Volte in Mumbai, launched his then new art space with a proclamation—“The Gallery Is Dead, Long Live The Gallery”. Every now and again, an art space emerges bent on stimulating, even challenging the notion of the white cube. Delhi-based The Egg Art Studio, conceptualised and co-founded by Amrita Varma and Tavleen Akoi-Gill seems to lie somewhere between gallery, salon and studio-workshop. The duo, see themselves as explorer and adventurer discovering art (both old and new), so more Lara Croft and less stodgy gallerists.

Varma, an art advisor, critic and curator after spending years navigating through the Indian art world; wants to bring her aesthetic vision to the forefront, empower emerging artists and hone historically relevant Indian artwork. While Akoi-Gill, whose passion for art was sparked by the works of her great-grand-aunt Amrita Sher-Gill, tags herself the “untrained eye” and wants to create a space where anyone could appreciate art and “leave having learnt something”. Their insider-outsider approach has helped mould their idea of gallery into an approachable space that aims to make good art accessible.

Their first move was to travel the length and breadth of India to track artists who they wanted to work with as part of their launch exhibit, and gradually assimilate their artistic vision. In Gujarat, they stumbled upon Fanil Pandya’s photo documentation of the indigenous tribes from the Omo Valley in Ethiopia, and in Kerala, they discovered the paintings of Shijo Jacob. Along the way they restored a piece of Indian art history: through a trail of archival portraits, memorabilia and a healthy dose of rumour, they found one of Ravi Varma’s last and incomplete works and supported its restoration.

After about a year of adventuring, Varma and Akoi-Gill are now ready to launch The Egg Art Studio (9th April, 2016) with an ambitious two-part exhibition tilted Genesis: The Veil—bringing together a special Maldivian squad of artists who reveal their specific histories and fables surrounding the island country and archipelago. This is juxtaposed by a range of Indian artists and some International artists (including the banned works of Iranian artist, Hojat Amani) taking the genesis narrative forward.

The main focus here is to “incubate artists”—which roughly translates to identifying, mentoring and appraising emerging art and artists. Their other is to educate and engage with collectors, media, even school kids—through workshops, talks and events. This is not a rent-by-the-hour sort of space, they want to build a community of like-minded people from diverse disciplines—and their white cube will include dance, music, books, etc, as long as it aligns with their aesthetic and vision.

Genesis: The Veil is on view at The Egg Art Studio (The Atrium, Narain Manzil, 23 Barakhamba Road, New Delhi) from April 9, 2016 onwards.

Photo The Flower Brothers by Fanil Panda