The associate director of the celebrated Art Mumbai fair shares insights into her passion, intersections of fashion and gender, and dating deal-breakers in a chat with HELLO!
Art is serious business, so when we asked Teesta Bhandare about the most un-serious thing she can tell us about herself, she drew a blank. The art advisor, curator and champion of young collectors is fresh from the success of the recently concluded Art Mumbai and has had little time to catch her breath.
“This was my first large-scale event and there were definitely times when I felt I let my nerves get the better of me. I wish I had savoured more moments,” she says, easing into questions from HELLO!
In Conversation With Teesta Bhandare
HELLO!: Have you always had a passion for art?
Teesta Bhandare: “I’ve always been curious about art. I don’t know if I would say I have always had a passion simply because in school I was under the impression that art meant being good at painting yourself. Over the years, as I travelled and widened my horizons, I realised art and art appreciation meant so much more and since then I’ve definitely been captivated. I left my career as a corporate finance lawyer to pursue my passion for art.”
H!: You’ve spoken about historical sexism in the art industry. How has your mother, writer Namita Bhandare, guided your perspective to see things through a gender lens?
TB: “My mother has played a pivotal role in shaping how I see just about anything, whether that’s the art industry or the world at large. While sexism persists in the art industry, especially in terms of the representation of women artists, I believe that in India, we are moving towards a more inclusive industry for women. Take for instance, the Vadehra Art Gallery showcasing only women artists at the first edition of Frieze Seoul and the record-breaking sale of Amrita Sher Gil’s artwork, the market is showing an increased appreciation for women artists.”
H!: Congratulations on Art Mumbai! Can you highlight your most memorable moment from the event?
TB: “There are so many highlights from the event, but my personal favourite would be seeing how happy the exhibitors were with the fair. A close second would be the art displays that we saw, it was so refreshing to see that among the contemporary galleries, many of them had artists commission new works. Then, of course, there is the once-in-a-lifetime Tarun Tahiliani moving art installation and book launch.”
H!: Speaking of Tarun Tahiliani, what are your thoughts on the connection between art and fashion?
TB: “Fashion design is a subset of art; in fact, all design is. What I’ve noticed over the years with Tarun’s design specifically is how they incorporate traditional craftsmanship, which is really the foundation of art in India. At Art Mumbai, the Saffronart Foundation booth showcased an integration of art and design as well. The exhibit featured M.F. Husain’s Fantasy Collection, which largely comprised children’s furniture designed by Husain early in his career. Today we see the close intertwining of design and art, whether it’s through fashion or interiors. Take, for example, the chair made by Rooshad Shroff and Tanya Goel, one of my favourite artists.
H!: Do you see art as a luxury or a necessity? And how does it personally make you feel?
TB: “I think living with art is a necessity. The way a piece you love can uplift you, very few things can. And what I absolutely love, as a collector of contemporary art, is growing with the artists whose works you resonate with.”
H!: Lastly, do art lovers have dating deal-breakers, like book lovers do? If yes, what are yours?
TB: I can’t speak for all art lovers but I think I might have a few too many!
Photos: Manoj Kesharwani; Creative Direction: Amber Tikari; Make-Up: Sonia Chandola.
This interview is from HELLO! India’s December 2023 issue. Check out the latest issue right here.