Having always been home to a grand set of heritage museums, it was inevitable that over the decades, Bombay would develop into an art and cultural hub – albeit one constellating around avant-garde galleries, immersive festivals and even commissioned works of street art!
Whether you’re a visitor or a local looking to discover a different side of this marvellously-multifaceted city – here’s an art enthusiast’s guide to exploring all that it has to offer…
Bombay’s plethora of independent galleries span the spectrum from showcasing established iconoclasts, to championing emerging artists. While the spaces are spread across the expansive breadth of the city, the shaded by-lanes of the neighbouring districts of Colaba, Kala Ghoda and Fort, are particularly famous for cosseting a coterie of notable names.
Established spaces here include Pundole and Sakshi Art Gallery, which have played a key role in driving the development of a more formal, commercial-oriented art market; not to mention faithfully supporting the meteoric career rise of iconic artists from M.F. Husain and V.S. Gaitonde to F.N Souza. More contemporary additions to this art hub include:
Having recently set up shop in the heritage wonder that is Churchill Chambers, this contemporary newcomer is distinguished by its focus on supporting younger buyers to build their collection with the works of lesser-known but upcoming artists. Moreover, Akara is one of the few galleries to deal in the secondary market for modern and contemporary art.
First floor, Churchill Chambers, 32 Mereweather Road, Colaba | +91 22 22025550 |11 am to 6.30 pm (Tues to Sat); Closed on Public Holidays| http://akaraart.com/
Chaterjee and Lal
Set in a Victorian warehouse, this pioneering space has earned international acclaim for edgy exhibits spanning mixed media and performance installations (artist Nikhil Chopra once occupied the gallery for three nights), shining a light on new-age esoteric works, alongside historical material.
01/18 Kamal Mansion Floor 1 Arthur Bunder Road Colaba 400 005 |+91 22 2202 3787| Open Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat 11:00am – 7:00pm; Closed Sun & Mon| http://chatterjeeandlal.com/
Chemould Prescott Road Gallery
The newer avatar of the erstwhile Gallery Chemould is housed in a 5,000 square feet loft, exhibiting established names such as Atul Dodiya, as well as promoting up and coming ones.
Queens Mansion, Third Floor, GT Marg, Fort | +91 22 2200 0211 | Open Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, closed Sun | gallerychemould.com
Galerie Mirchandani & Steinruecke
Established by a mother-and-daughter duo – Usha Mirchandani and Ranjana Steinruecke – this modern space is synonymous with its international roster of artists (having brought over names such as Kiki Smith and Jonathan Meese to India for the first time).
2 Sunny House, 16/18 Mereweather Road (behind Taj Mahal Hotel), Colaba | +91 22 2202 3030 | Open Tues-Sat 11am-7pm, closed Sun and Mon | galeriems.com
Word is that this innovative gallery is set to move from Walkeshwar to Colaba in April 2018. Watch this space, for more detail.
A minimalist setting proves an effective canvas for showcasing unusual and thought-provoking artworks (such as the video pieces by Turner Prize nominees, The Otolith Group), alongside known names such as Bharti Kher and fashion photographer, Bharat Sikka.
BMP Building, Ground Floor, NA Sawant Marg, Colaba | +91 22 2281 0066 | Open Mon 2pm-7pm, Tues-Sat 11am-7pm, closed Sun | project88.in
Sanskrit for “discussion, abstract reasoning, logic and cause,” this airily capacious space is a medium for channelling different voices and eliciting thought-provoking conversations across a range of contexts.
The thoughtfully-curated exhibits are complemented by a running schedule of workshops, film screenings, gallery walk-throughs and seminars with the exhibiting artists, so it’s worth checking ahead for upcoming events.
F35/36 Dhanraj Mahal, C.S.M. Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba |+91 22 6615 0424 |http://www.tarq.in/
Schlepping across town to the breezy environs of Worli Seaface, you’ll find Tao – a symbiotic space where art transcends the canvas, jumping into different shapes and forms – from installations to literature and music, theatre, dance and philosophical forums. Infusing this new energy and direction, is the gallery’s young creative director, Sanjana Shah. Watch this space, as she transforms it into a mélange of people – be it young art students, traditional connoisseurs, new explorers, passionate buyers or established artists.
165, ‘The View’ Dr. Annie Besant Road Worli | +91 (22) 2491 8585 | http://www.taoartgallery.com/
Dates for your diary
The return of Mumbai Gallery Weekend (31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018) sees 30 spaces showcasing over 60 artists; while Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (Sat 3th Feb – Sun 11th Feb 2018) will see a week-long celebration of art, culture & heritage in this most charming pocket of Bombay.
You can also explore the revolving list of new exhibitions at Art Night Thursday gallery walks, on the second Thursday of each month.
Truth be told, the awe-inspiring architectural design of Mumbai’s vaunted museums speak as much of the history, heritage and culture of the city, as the artworks and decorative artefacts housed within…
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
Established in 1855, the city’s oldest museum was renamed in 1875 as tribute to the Indian physician credited with making a significant contribution to the art scene. Particularly striking, is the building’s Palladian edifice, impeccably restored to highlight the pastel and gold stucco, reminiscent of the style of a bygone era.
Under the able direction of Tasneem Zakaria Mehta – the old-world charm of the museum has been juxtaposed against a contemporary art collection, with a shift towards combining the physical with digital elements – from Video Art to Movies at the Museum!
91A Rani Baug, Byculla East | +91 22 2373 1234 | Open Thurs -Tues 10am-5.30pm, closed Wed | bdlmuseum.org
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum)
Situated amidst a botanical garden in the heart of artistic hub that is Kala Ghoda, The Museum (as it is now known) seamlessly combines elements of art, archaeology, design and natural history. It stands out from an architectural perspective too, its Indo-Sarcenic features marrying British and European architectural forms with Indian influences.
The Museum’s collection of Indian miniatures and artefacts gathered over the centuries (including from the Mughal Empire) is particularly impressive, as is the fact that it houses The Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation – one of the richest private collections of modern Indian art.
159-161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort | +91 022 22844484 | Monday to Sunday – 10.15 am to 6.00 pm|https://www.csmvs.in/
National Gallery of Modern Art
Located just around the corner, the NGMA is another must-visit with over 14,000 works to hold your interest – spanning works from Rabindranath Tagore to Amrita Sher-Gil, alongside hosting installation-based shows; international collections (from Egyptian artefacts to the works of Picasso); and a compelling line-up of talks and events in its elegant auditorium
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"Swirling thoughts, still for an instant only to wander into deep space abyss return as an echo Still in movement calm amid chaos…?" – Meditations on a Mandala by #SatishGupta 🙏🏻 The thought-provoking exhibit – Silent Eternity – opens tomorrow (30 Nov) until Dec 5 @JehangirArtGallery. Its a must visit, but in the meanwhile get a glimpse of all the highlights from tonight's preview on my Instagram Story… 📸 #ArtnSoul #InnerBuddha #GoodVibrations #TheFoodieDiariesBombay
Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall M. G. Road Fort | +91 22-22881969 – 70| http://ngmaindia.gov.in/index.asp
Of course, the beauty of Bombay is that there’s really a compelling story waiting to be uncovered at each and every corner – whether spontaneously illustrated on the gracefully decaying walls of the rejuvenated mills, or specially commissioned to add character to public platforms like the railway stations.
Walking tours offer an opportunity to decipher the city’s grand Art Deco heritage (Bombay has the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings after Miami!) , while there is much joy in stumbling upon wondrous gems hidden in plain sight…
Performance Arts holds much draw too, with stalwarts such as NCPA (the first multi-venue, multi-genre cultural centre in South Asia) and Prithvi Theatre laying the foundations of the city’s thriving thespian scene; whilst the recently-revived Royal Opera House pays tribute to a gloried past!
Finally, I’d definitely recommend having a look at AVID Learning’s art programming, as it features a running series of previews, panel discussions, master classes, walk throughs and more, covering everything from visual, performing and applied arts, to introductory insights for collecting and viewing art!
Explore more of Mumbai, here.