On Cymroza Art Gallery’s 40th anniversary, director Pheroza Godrej admits that she feels proud and humble about the achievement. “Forty years in the life of an institution unravels many events during its journey. Established in October 1971, the gallery continues to attract artists from all over the nation,” she says.
Since inception the gallery has been a platform for paintings, sculptures and ceramics and included serigraphs and photographs over the years, which is what will be on display at the commemorative exhibition. Artworks by Jehangir Sabavala, Laxman Shrestha, Lalitha Lajmi, MF Husain, Satish Gujral and Akbar Padamsee don the space.
“Over 40 years, there were many artists who had exhibited with Cymroza, and we could not accommodate them all. We selected some who had been with us at the start of our journey, as well as those who were with us along the way, and are with us at this time,” adds Godrej.
Art down memory lane
Back in the ’70s, when the gallery was formed, the vision was to provide a platform for talent and to bring out upcoming talent that may otherwise go unrecognised. Godrej reminisces that the birth of the Gallery was to fulfill a dream. “In the 1960s and ’70s Mumbai (then Bombay) was a different city where the art market was evolving. There were few exhibition spaces and they were mostly rented out for exhibitions or the galleries invited artists and retained a commission on the sale of work. There weren’t many options for artists who had never exhibited. Over hours of discussion with veterans including Jehangir Sabavala, the dye was cast and a dream began to materialise.”
Quiz her about how the gallery maintains its stature, she says, “We accept challenges; we are open to change. And we are willing to take unrecognised artists because we believe in their work. Perhaps this is what makes us different.”
While it functions as a private gallery today, it also remains a cultural space. “A gallery is not merely an exhibition space, only for commercial gains but also for promoting talent. As Ranjit Hoskote wrote on the occasion of Cymroza’s 35th anniversary exhibition, ‘A gallery is not merely a site; it must aim to be a process.’ This is a responsibility that Cymroza has served through four decades and will continue to do so,” Godrej signs off.