Saturday, August 31, 2013

50 years of contemporary art: Chemould

The Chemould story started in 1941 with the establishment of Chemould Frames, Kekoo Gandhy's frame manufacturing business, through which he came to know the then young K. H. Ara, S. H. Raza, K. K. Hebbar and M. F. Husain.

At a time when there were practically no venues for showing modern art in the city, Gandhy began to use his show room window to exhibit their works in specially designed frames while also promoting them to prospective clients. The show room thus became a site for small, informal solo shows such as that of M. F. Husain's in 1951. Today Chemould Frames continues to operate as an independent company from the gallery, situated in the same premise as over 60 years ago.

Gallery Chemould, founded in 1963 by Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, was one of the oldest established commercial art galleries. It has the distinction of having represented major artists, such as M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, emerging from the first waves of India's modernist and contemporary art movements. Chemould was also the first gallery to host the first solo exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist, the late Bhupen Khakhar (year of birth and death).

The Gandhys began their long association with contemporary art during the late 1940s, in the early years of the modernist art movement in post-Independence India. Their role and involvement as facilitators and promoters in this cultural climate has come to be seen as integral to the existing scene around the visual arts in the country.

Chemould has been represented through loan, collaboration and participation in several major international exhibitions: the 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995); ‘the Fire and Life Project’ in collaboration with Asialink (1996 & 1997); ‘Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tension’ (1997) hosted by the Asia Society; ‘Private Mythology: Contemporary Art From India’ (1998) in collaboration with the Japan Foundation Asia Center; Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis (2001) hosted by the Tate Modern. In 2007, Atul Dodiya’s representation in Documenta 12 was represented entirely through the gallery’s collection namely, ‘Antler’s Anthology’.

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