"A lot of space in Mumbai is locked away"

Jun 25, 2013, 02:37 IST | dhara vora

Explore the world of two internationally acclaimed Indian architects -- Bijoy Jain and Kapil Gupta --- as they share details about their upcoming exhibition that highlights their work, approaches, inspiration and, of course, Mumbai

Come June 28 and one section of The Mumbai Art Room will be converted into an architectural delight. Indian contemporary architects, Bijoy Jain and Kapil Gupta, have been invited by the gallery to showcase their work, for art enthusiasts to get a glimpse into their creative world. Architect Aaron Schwarz has curated the exbition.

Model of XTD Plot H, mixed-use development, Hangzhou, China, created by Kapil Gupta. Pic courtesy/ Serie Architects

“This exhibition, for us, represents an opportunity to reclaim a discursive space in India, where architecture remains absent as an artistic and cultural practice in the wider social imagination. We were, hence, interested in being a part of Aaron’s (Schwarz) vision to showcase meaningful architecture that can inventively negotiate between a globalised design culture and the specificities of local context and history,” says Gupta, who is the co-founder and principal, with Christopher Lee, of Serie Architects London, Mumbai and Beijing.

Bronze and copper landscape model of Utsav House by Bijoy Jain. Bronze and copper landscape model of Utsav House by Bijoy Jain. Pic courtesy/ Studio Mumbai

Raise the flag
The presentation will include drawings, images, models and snippets of materials, giving visitors a window into each designer’s projects and sensibilities. Adding to this, Jain, who founded Studio Mumbai in 1995 explains, “It will be an extension of our studios; it will bring forth stuff that we do every day, how we produce things, the stuff that surrounds us, like objects that we draw on and so on. The exhibition is like coming to our office and seeing us work.”
Jain and Gupta are not just established architects in India, but have been attracting the world’s attention as well. This show aims at demonstrating that their distinct contemporary design vocabularies are influenced by local building techniques, as well as the social, historic, and climatic conditions of the

Project environment.
Speaking about his curatorial intentions for this show, Schwarz notes, “Bijoy Jain and Kapil Gupta are experienced professionals so working with them and their respective studios is pretty smooth, and since we are all architects, communication was easy. The challenge is to present architecture on the same plane and in the same venue as other contemporary art mediums, which are more commonly exhibited in familiar ways.”

Architect Kapil Gupta

Space in the city
The architects also clear a misconception related to Mumbai and space. Unlike popular belief that Mumbai lacks space, Gupta makes an astute observation: “Ironically, there is a lot of space in Mumbai that remains locked away due to central and state politics like the Mumbai Port Trust lands, the salt pans and under-utilised lands that are held by the government bodies like the Railways.” But, when met with the problem of space constraints, does that curb creative freedom? “Lack of space never restricts creative freedom. In fact, creativity comes to the fore in case of such restraints because you need to create space, so there are more possibilities of coming out with something unique,” Jain apprises us.

“It looks like an exciting time for both artists and galleries in the city. One can see a lot of new, interesting work emerging and galleries willing to exhibit more conceptual work,” comments Gupta and seconding this thought, Jain opines that there is awareness, which will only increase with time since culture is in our DNA.

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