Three drawings by abstract artist Nasreen Mohamedi changed Deepak Talwar’s (’89) trajectory.
May 23, 2017
Mohamedi's minimalist creations, their fine lines forming girds and geometric shapes that create tension and depth on paper, led Talwar, a young banker at the time, to consider a new path.
"I'm standing there looking at these drawings, just a few lines on a piece of paper, and I get goose bumps. It was like magic," he recalls. "I couldn't explain to myself why I was experiencing this."Talwar encountered Mohamedi's drawings more than two decades ago. Today, he creates that magic for others as the founder of art galleries in New York and New Delhi.
Without overthinking the move, Talwar transitioned to the New York art world as gallerist in 1996 following five years in the banking industry.“My interest in art kept increasing as I was becoming disenchanted with banking and the corporate culture,” he says. “I knew that if I stayed in banking, it would be harder to leave because the opportunity cost would become greater for switching to something about which I was passionate, but knew little.”Over a period of a few days he made the decision, not knowing where he would be six months later, but certain that he loved art and wanted to be closer to it.
Prior to his epiphany, Talwar’s interests and professional aspirations heavily focused on the hard sciences and economics. He came to Davidson from Delhi and expected to major in physics, but an economics 101 course taught by Professor Emeritus Charlie Ratliff convinced him otherwise.“I thought, ‘This is it,’” he says. “It made sense, it was directly applicable and it just synched with me.”Talwar then earned a master’s degree in international economics and finance, wanting more than anything else to be a banker.
The byproduct of his chosen vocation: His career took him to New York City, not only a financial capital but also art capital of the world, where he came to see the arts in a new light.“I loved that art was an uncompromising enterprise,” he explains. “It’s a pursuit solely based on belief and vision, rather than a path mapped out by others. I wanted to feel that full experience in my work.”
Talwar noted a dearth of galleries showing modern and contemporary Indian artists outside of India and realized he had found his niche.On his next trip to India, he began cultivating friendships and professional relationships within the art community; he has never looked back.His process for representing new artists typically starts with the artwork itself.“There is no formula to it [identifying artwork],” he says. “I’m constantly looking at art, and if it hooks me, then I do my research to see if there is enough substance that attracts me to the artist before meeting with them.”