NULL History of Chemould Prescott Road - Contemporary Art Gallery, Mumbai

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Gallery Chemould, founded in 1963 by late Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, was one of the oldest established commercial art galleries. It has the distinction of having represented major artists, such as M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, emerging from the first waves of India's modernist and contemporary art movements. Chemould was also the first gallery to host the first solo exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist, the late Bhupen Khakhar (year of birth and death).

 

The Gandhys began their long association with contemporary art during the late 1940s, in the early years of the modernist art movement in post-Independence India. Their role and involvement as facilitators and promoters in this cultural climate has come to be seen as integral to the existing scene around the visual arts in the country.

 

The Chemould story started in 1941 with the establishment of Chemould Frames, Kekoo Gandhy's frame manufacturing business, through which he came to know the then young K. H. Ara, S. H. Raza, K. K. Hebbar and M. F. Husain. At a time when there were practically no venues for showing modern art in the city, Gandhy began to use his show room window to exhibit their works in specially designed frames while also promoting them to prospective clients. The show room thus became a site for small, informal solo shows such as that of M. F. Husain's in 1951. Today Chemould Frames continues to operate as an independent company from the gallery, situated in the same premise as over 60 years ago.

 

Chemould has been represented through loan, collaboration and participation in several major international exhibitions: the 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995); the Fire and Life Project in collaboration with Asialink (1996 & 1997); Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tension (1997) hosted by the Asia Society; Private Mythology: Contemporary Art From India (1998) in collaboration with the Japan Foundation Asia Center; Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis (2001) hosted by the Tate Modern. In 2007, Atul Dodiya’s representation in Documenta 12 was represented entirely through the gallery’s collection namely, Antler’s Anthology.

 

Shireen Gandhy joined her parents in 1988 and added a new dynamism to its programme by spearheading a particular focus on young emerging artists with an experimental and interdisciplinary approach to practice and media. For instance, in the early 90s when artists working with installations were far and few Chemould showed the first installation works of Subodh Gupta. The artists represented within the stable of the gallery represent the very contemporary nature of the nation as it stands today, addressing issues of the national and the global as seen in the works of Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Shilpa Gupta (to name a few); as also being interested in artists who work with references to tradition and materiality as in the case of Nilima Sheikh and Desmond Lazaro. The gallery’s special interest in artists who work in installations and new media is represented through the works of L.N. Tallur and Vivan Sundaram and Pushpamala N. (to name a few.)

 

On 2 February 2007 Chemould Prescott Road opened an expansive space in the centre of the city and branch concern of Gallery Chemould. (The latter subsequently closed down in the Jehangir Art Gallery in the same year.)

 

In 2003, the Gallery Chemould commemorated its fortieth anniversary with an exhibition spanning four generations of Indian artists, curated by Geeta Kapur and Chaitanya Sambrani, titled, Crossing Generations: dIverge, Forty years of Gallery Chemould held at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bombay.

 

In 2013, Chemould Prescott Road celebrates its 50th year, to which Geeta Kapur has been invited to curate a series of five exhibitions that will run through from September 2013 to the Spring of 2014.