From steel industry to art platform: the journey of Jenny Shah, Founder and CEO, Ivana Art
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 390 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Art curator and gallerist Jenny Shah started as a history graduate from Delhi University, followed by a stint of over two decades with the Tata Group. She became Head of Corporate Communication at Tata Steel, and then took the plunge into the art world.
“My flair and passion for the arts grew while I was evolving my career interacting with artists and art,” Jenny says, in a chat with YourStory. She got to interact with leading and emerging artists on a personal level while organising art camps for corporate groups. “I finally decided to transfer this passion for all things artistic onto a larger platform,” she adds.
Her artist platform – Ivana Art - recently organised an exhibition titled ‘Glimpses on the Move’ at Taj West End, Bengaluru (see Part I of our photo essay here). The displayed artworks are priced from Rs 10,000 upward.
Ivana Art plans to strengthen its reach across India and overseas. Glimpses on the Move has become an annual event showcasing the works of emerging and veteran/master artists, representing India's immense diversity in art, mythology and culture.
The artist lineup, some of whose works are featured in this photo essay, includes Bratin Khan, Anjani Reddy, Buwa Shete, Dilip Choudhury, Nagesh Ghodke, Nitin Nangare, P Gnana, Ramesh Gorjala, Subrata Das, Sachin Sagare, Samir Paul, Siddharth Shingade, Subramanian Gopalsamy, Shubra Chand, Sujata Sah Sejekan, Umakanat Kannade, Thota Vaikuntam, Shantkumar Hattarki, and Vasant Dora.
“In the last three years, Ivana Art has grown manifold. Starting with a community of 20 artists, it now boasts of over 50 artists from every corner of the country,” Jenny proudly says.
The artworks represent different interpretations of India from the eyes of the artists. “These stories must be told. These stories also embody a wonderful, almost healing quality, in the form of paintings through their use of colour, texture, and subject matter,” Jenny explains.
“Surrounding yourself with art is a wonderful way to influence your mood. Art has calming, invigorating, inspiring and empowering effects on the viewer or collector,” Jenny adds.
She urges audiences to appreciate and love art in all its diversity. “I never say I just collect art. I live with art. Other people should, too. Art belongs in our homes. We need to live with it. We need to love it,” Jenny urges.
“Art is not something you visit and stare at. It's something that should be a part of your daily life. Fall in love with a piece of artwork, don’t just purchase it; don’t view it as just a commodity. Appreciating and buying a painting is an enriching experience,” she emphasises.
The art movement in India has also caught the eyes of corporates. “Increasingly, art has been making a statement for large businesses, too. It lends an extension to a company’s image and makes a huge cause towards corporate philanthropy,” Jenny adds.
When companies purchase art, they are supporting the artists and their talent. “That can mean buying from local artists, but it extends beyond that – art touches lives,” she explains.
“Sponsoring local talent to help them pursue arts is a good way to support the local artist community,” Jenny adds. There are many levels and forms that sponsorship can take: some include in-kind sponsorship, others can sponsor goods or services.
Ivana Art offers full-service art consulting, including art selection, commissioning, customised framing and installation. “We provide a certificate of authenticity for each artwork purchased from us,” she adds. Jenny also helped manage an art school for 15 years, encouraging budding talent to pursue their dream and realise their true potential.
Some of her favourite events to experience art and connect with the community are the India Art Fair (Delhi), Serendipity Art Festival (Goa), India Art Festival (Mumbai), and Affordable Art Fair (Singapore).
“I like to go and find things. It's the thrill of the unexpected that will justify the hours I will spend in discovering that artist with potential. My instinct is to be conscious of lesser-known artists whose work stands outside the mainstream,” Jenny explains.
“What fascinates me most is to understand how they develop ideas and bring them to life. As an art patron, I wish to wield my network and know-how to steer their work toward the right venues and audiences,” she adds.
Jenny feels owning a piece of art should not be just a privilege for a few but available to all those who wish to understand and appreciate art. She calls for more appreciation and support for artists and also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Be authentic and compete only with your self,” she advises.
“More than appreciating the arts, we need to step forward and acknowledge the immense and diverse talent we have as a country,” Jenny concludes.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and find ways to do to your bit for our wonderful artistic heritage?
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