How art gives us solace and inspiration in these troubled times – Sanjana Shah, Tao Art Gallery
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 460 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.
Mumbai’s Tao Art Gallery in Worli celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and marks the occasion with an exhibition titled The Tapestry of Time. It reflects the changes, richness, and complexity in individuals as well as institutions. Through good times and turbulent upheavals (such as the 2007-08 financial crisis), the gallery has stood the test of time.
From Indian masters to young emerging artists, the gallery has promoted Indian talent to local and global audiences. The team is headed by Kalpana Shah (founder-director), Sanjana Shah (creative director), Nayana Sarmalkar and Sunaina Kewalramani (gallery managers), Preeti Malkan (sales), and Urvi Kothari (marketing).
“The Tapestry of Time is more of a nostalgic show than a curated one,” explains creative director Sanjana Shah, in a chat with YourStory. “We have brought together about 70 artists who have worked with us over the past 20 years, with each artist creating a piece that they feel would best fit into this tribute and tapestry,” she adds.
“Curated by my mother Kalpana Shah, figurative works are displayed in the primary Window Gallery, and abstract art in the adjacent Atrium Gallery,” Sanjana says. Her personal favourites are Paresh Maity’s sculpture, Arunanshu Chowdhury’s 3D book canvas, and Seema Kohli’s Van Gogh bust, to name a few. The exhibited works are priced from under Rs 1 lakh up to Rs 70 lakh.
“All of them are out of the box in terms of conceptualisation and execution,” Sanjana enthuses. Over the years, Tao has featured painting, photography, sculpture, video, installations, and performing arts. It has also published and promoted art books, and organised talks, panels, and workshops.
Earlier this year, the gallery hosted the exhibition titled A Tribute to the Modern Masters. It featured outstanding works by MF Hussain, SH Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Krishen Khanna, Bal Chabda, and Ram Kumar. Their works were collected over the span of 20 years.
Creative works themselves are like individual personalities – they can be loud or soft, sad or happy, lonely or busy, Sanjana explains. “Art isn’t an intellectual pursuit as much as an intuitive one. Feeling is the key to understanding the very human emotions the artist intends to trigger,” she adds.
In that sense, everyone is a creative expressionist. “We are all born to connect, create, and convey. It is, perhaps, our very foremost primal instinct. The aim, and only aim of Tao in all these years, has been to explore, encourage, and expand upon this instinct,” Sanjana enthuses.
The artist lineup, some of whose works are included in the photo essay, features Abhay Pandit, Anju Dodiya, Arzan Khambatta, Chinthala Jagdish, Gulam Mohd Sheikh, Jagdish Chander, K S Radhakrishnan, Kisalay Vora, Manu Parekh, Prajakta Palav, Ravi Mandlik, Samir Mondal, Shakti Maira, Smriti Dixit, Suhas Bahulkar, Viraj Mithani, and Yashwant Deshmukh.
(Note: These photographs were taken before the national lockdown due to the coronavirus, and the visit to the gallery was not in violation of any public safety guidelines. In future editions of this column, we will explore the response of the artistic community to the COVID-19 crisis.)
“In troubled times like what we are going through today, art can be a source of solace and inspiration to all. It is the best way to de-stress. Both the creation of art and consumption of art makes us feel happy and fulfilled,” Sanjana enthuses.
“It can be a way for society and communities to communicate and connect in a global situation like today. It keeps our mind engaged and enthralled and even helps to see the bright and positive side to tragedy,” Sanjana advises.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative core during these times of turbulence?
Kalpana Shah (L), Sanjana Shah (R)
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(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)