As the creative director of Mumbai’s prestigious Tao Art Gallery, she has her eye on all the goings-on in the global artscape. Sanjana Shah gives HELLO! an inside view of the industry today…
HELLO: Curiosity, creativity, conversation. Tao Art Gallery has brought these three elements together over the past two decades. What are things looking like in the post-Covid era?
Sanjana Shah: With the unforgiving lockdowns and isolation, the value of the arts has become invaluable! The creativity of digital presence that has cropped up in all areas is unparalleled, leading to further engagement and expression. With a boom in physical events again, we now have a community that’s both online and offline — and curiosity is at the core of it. Each artwork contains an inherent energy of its own, which is best understood and experienced in person.
H: Any exciting showcases, previews or workshops in your line-up?
SS: We have a few coming up in the monsoon months in collaboration with Akanksha Nemani’s Art Links. We also have a photography and digital art solo exhibit by Ayesha Taleyarkhan opening on June 11. Her works are digital portraits that have been manipulated uniquely to create layered pieces of abstract art.
H: Your biggest takeaways from India Art Fair 2022.
SS: This was my first time as a participating gallerist and curator at the fair. I went for a more nuanced creation by showcasing only two artists under my ‘Mind and Materiality’ theme, instead of a whole bazaar-like variety of styles. The key takeaway for me was the logistical handling of setting up a booth at such fairs. It was tedious and required much planning and innovative thought.
H: Your favourites from your personal collection would be...
SS: Those collected over 22 years by my mother and gallery founder, Kalpana Shah. Mum has some of the most unique works by modern Indian masters — be it a rare, completely beige-and-white Raza ‘Bindu’ work that he had done specially for her on her suggestion for a more shant or quiet artwork, or an 8-ft-long painting by MF Husain from during one of India’s iconic matches with England.
H: Any young names in the art scene whose work you’re in awe of?
SS: There’s Rahul Inamdar, a stunning oil painter whose works defy form or definition but keep evolving under the meditative gaze of the viewer. Another favourite is Viraj Khanna, whose solo show we opened in February this year. He’s paved his own way with three different mediums as an artist. Lastly, Isha Pimpalkhare is another artist worth watching out for.
H: Any trends you’ve noticed from the exhibits at your gallery?
SS: There’s a widespread desire for radical, out-of-the- box art nowadays. People want excitement and quirkiness in the artwork they place in their spaces. India has definitely shifted into a more progressive and statement mindset.
H: What are the challenges contemporary artists face today?
SS: The main challenges are that of competition and the attempt to retain one’s organic and authentic process. Often, I see artists losing track of their narrative because they see what is ‘selling well’ and what audiences are looking to buy.
H: An art event you’re looking forward to this year.
SS: I’m super excited for Art Basel and the Venice Biennale. Global art events are becoming a lot more cosmopolitan, with Indian art being showcased with prominence.
H: Your thoughts on the rising presence of digital art today and India’s future in that space.
SS: NFTs of digital art have definitely taken the art world by storm in the past year. It allows for the secure digital ownership of artwork, which makes it easy for investing and trading in art as a virtual asset! Personally, I’ve been waiting and watching before jumping onto this bandwagon.
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in HELLO! India’s June 2022 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!