Jhaveri Contemporary: The Gallery Shaking Up the Mumbai Art Scene

Stemming from the curatorial projects and art initiatives of many years prior, Jhaveri Contemporary (JC) opened its gallery doors in 2010 by sisters, Amrita and Priya Jhaveri. Nestled in a serene Walkeshwar pocket of Mumbai on a waterfront space overlooking Back Bay, the gallery might be young but its visually complex and ideologically sophisticated exhibitions are anything but.

Widely recognized for their ambitious homecoming exhibition of Indian artist Sir Anish Kapoor, one of the most influential sculptors of his generation, Amrita and Priya have a decorated background of achievement. Amrita, an established independent advisor, collector and author, and Priya, a distinguished editor and author turned consultant, have garnered much attention for their mission to foster exhibitions that span not only the many nations and connections of South Asia, but also those that seek to continue conversations across many generations.

Rather than siding strictly with the representation of just one type of art, the gallery is keen to wade between multiple facets, engaging audiences with artists who have worked from the 1950’s to the present.

JC currently represents 12 living contemporary artists and 4 esteemed estates, including Anwar Jalal Shemza, Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Raghubir Singh and Mrinalini Mukherjee.

Their current show, titled Silver Bird, is a solo exhibition by 44-year-old Indian artist, Shambhavi Kaul. It delineates the site of ‘airplane space’ through a four-part visual volume. Featuring a single channel film, a series of photographs, a 40-page booklet and a two channel video installation, Silver Bird seeks to interrupt the visual information that defines space and time — the usual defining characteristics which complete a cinematic narrative. Thus with Kaul’s trademark of absentee human presence, the work thrusts the viewer into an eerie parallel mind space. The show challenges not only theatrics of cinema, but also the moving-image expansion in its variety of outlets.

The sisters share, “It is challenging to engage audiences with art and artists who are not familiar with or part of the local scene… there seems to be a view that you are either interested in Modern Art or Contemporary Art. As a gallery we often mix the two, which puzzles the community.”

Since the 1990’s, artists in Mumbai have spawned a more global concentration as their artists connected with a wider audience rather than addressing solely the city of Mumbai, which was once a popular source of inspiration decades before.

Through its ambitious foundation in modular contemporary and modern foci, JC presented a celebrated research-intensive group show in 2016 curated by Rebecca Heald, called Thinking Tantra. The word ‘tantra’ originates out of Hindu and Buddhism, and is defined as a mystical or spiritual practice that increases the mind and body connection through meditation, yoga and ritual. The show brought together 16 international artists whose practices culminate in the intersection of art and Tantric thinking, methods and drawings. With works from the 1960’s neighboring those from the present, the show encouraged a conversation across the psychology surrounding the Tantric methodologies and its believed omnipresent forces of the universe. The many iterations transcended the geometric patterns and vibrant colors of many generations before, creating a beautiful show that was transnational, intergenerational and an exploration of this particular esoteric South Asian culture.

Leading the way into the very bright future of the art scene in Mumbai, JC is making its mark through a unique academic pairing to their shows. Most exhibitions at the gallery offer an accessible, in-depth essay beyond the press release surrounding the complex ideologies and extensive research that informs the audience of the curated exhibition.

The Jhaveri sisters’ dedication to original scholarship and carefully curated programming is a shining jewel in India’s art scene, and one that certainly is not going unnoticed.

*First Image: Installation view of Shambhavi Kaul’s, ‘Silver Bird’, currently on view at Jhaveri Contemporary.  Second Image: Installation view of ‘Windows’ at Jhaveri Contemporary, October 2017. Third Image: Installation view of ‘Thinking Tantra’ at Jhaveri Contemporary, 2016. Image credit: Randhir Singh.  Fourth Image: Installation view of Shambhavi Kaul’s, ‘Silver Bird’, currently on view at Jhaveri Contemporary.  Fifth Image: Installation view of ‘Windows’ at Jhaveri Contemporary, October 2017.

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