Sunlight streams in through large, glass windows, bouncing off high ceilings and whitewashed walls at the 2,800 sq ft Akara Art, a new gallery that opens to public this Thursday with its inaugural exhibition, Mysteries Of The Organism. Located a stone’s throw from the Gateway of India, the gallery includes three large rooms, a corridor, a private viewing space, and can house 100 guests at a time.
Akara Art gallery has minimalist interiors
“There is a sense of surprise to the space, as you need to visit each room to discover the works. The separate rooms allow me to experiment more with exhibits and presentation. It is also possible to give each work a space of its own, which I like,” shares owner Puneet Shah.
An art dealer and consultant for seven years, Shah has always worked out of Colaba — central to the art fraternity — and hence chose to set up shop here. “In the last seven years, I also managed to gain market knowledge and expertise, which gave me the confidence to open the gallery. My personal rapport with artists, the comfort with collectors, and my understanding of the business from the grass-root level helped me achieve the goal,” he adds.
Gallery owner Puneet Shah
Old and new
Devised by writer-curator Girish Shahane, the opening exhibition features 20 mix media works including paintings, sculptures and photographs by artists like Manjit Bawa, Amrita Sher-Gil, BC Sanyal, Bhupen Khakhar, Raqib Shaw and Ravinder Reddy. “The show revolves around explorations of human identity. Some works predate India’s independence while others were made in the 21st century,” says Shah, who has chalked up plans to feature curated, theme-based shows as part of the gallery’s showcase. “There will be diversity in the programme, with Indian modern and contemporary art as well as international contemporary art,” he adds.
Online vs offline
At a time when art galleries are going digital, one would believe that investing in them might be a risk. Shah doesn’t think so. “Online platforms are complementary to physical spaces. People enjoy the experience of walking into a gallery. It instills a sense of confidence and reassurance, especially when you are dealing with a person who is not a seasoned collector. Having a space allows you to have an inventory, which in turn allows you to offer more works to a collector. We intend to have a maximum of two-three shows every year, with a mix of established and upcoming artists, along with constant private sales, which should hold the gallery in good stead,” foresees the owner.
On: February 25 (gallery launch); February 26 to April 15 (exhibition), 11.30 am to 6.30 pm (Sunday and Monday closed)
At: First floor, 4/5 Churchill Chambers, 32 Mereweather Road, Colaba.