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5 reasons to visit the annual Mumbai Gallery Weekend

In its 12th edition, the annual Mumbai Gallery Weekend promises exciting talks, artist-led workshops, exhibitions of stalwarts such as Anjolie Ela Menon, and focus on contemporary art practices

Anjolie Ela Menon, 'The Red Charpoi'. Courtesy: Art Musings
Anjolie Ela Menon, 'The Red Charpoi'. Courtesy: Art Musings

Art galleries from across the Maximum City are all set for the 12th edition of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend. Scheduled to be held between 11-14 January, this annual event continues its endeavour to engage younger audiences with art. This edition—the biggest so far with 35 participating galleries—features a mix of both modern and contemporary art. “We have been seeing a diverse group of visitors with numerous interests attend the weekend,” says Shireen Gandhy, spokesperson of the 12th Mumbai Gallery Weekend and director of one of Mumbai’s oldest art galleries—the Chemould Prescott Road. With a host of talks, walks, performances and workshops, the upcoming event is eclectic and exciting for both avid enthusiasts and those who are new to the world of art. The highlights:

A diverse set of emerging artists and stalwarts

The showcases include works, across mediums, by younger artists and the masters. “Participating in the Mumbai Gallery Weekend allows us to gain exposure on a significant platform, reaching a broader audience and potentially attracting new patrons and collectors,” says Vida Heydari, founder and director of Vida Heydari Contemporary, an art gallery and restaurant in Pune. The space is participating in the event for the first time, and will be showing M Parvat's exhibition From Debris, We Rise at The STANDS inside Wankhede Stadium.

Then there is ‘Evolution of Now’, curated by Teesta Bhandare and Art Garde, showcasing the works of eight emerging artists—Purvai Rai, Ritu Aggarwal, Kaushik Saha, Akshata Mokshi, Dheeraj Yadav, Pavan Kavitkar, Sheena Bajaria and Meera George. The exhibition at Kathiwada City House in Worli illustrates new contemporary art practices and is rooted in research and introspection. Each artwork is a visual response to existing socio-political stimuli, offering viewers a nuanced perspective on contemporary issues. At Chemould CoLab, Kuldeep Singh will explore how painting embodies movement, an overlap of his oil painting practice and rigorous training in Odissi.

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Work by Kuldeep Singh at Chemould CoLab
Work by Kuldeep Singh at Chemould CoLab

Exciting artworks

Among the most anticipated works of the weekend is art collective CAMP’s Bombay Tilts Down at the Sassoon Docks. It is being shown in Mumbai for the first time after being showcased at the Kochi Muziris Biennale in 2022. Presented in collaboration with Experimenter and St+art India, a public art initiative, Bombay Tilt Down was filmed from a single-point location by a CCTV camera atop the 34th floor of a building in South-Central Mumbai during the covid-19 pandemic. It showed the ‘lockdown’ way of life, and “a new pact between people, camera and the city,” says Gandhy.

The videos show the vertical landscape of Mumbai filled with unfinished landmarks, persistent settlements, and details. Many people caught on camera in the videos seem to be aware of this eye in the sky. The work is part of long-term investigations by CAMP into histories and futures of moving images, housing, infrastructure, and pleasure—as reads the description of the work on CAMP’s Instagram account. Its music, haunted by sirens and poets, is by Tushar Adhav who grew up in Lalbaug, Parel. Alongside the exhibition, as part of MGW’s programming, CAMP will also lead a tour of the work, featuring a performance by Adhav on 12 January, from 7 to 8 pm at Sassoon Docks, open to the public.

Another highlight of the weekend is artist Nikhil Chopra’s Line of Fire, a live performance and a series of drawings. His four-hour performance is on a day prior to the official opening of the MGW at 47-A: Design Gallery in Khotachi Wadi. This is the residue of the 201- performance at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, in which the artist performed against the backdrop of a locomotive, possibly used to ferry refugees at the time of partition in 1947. From 4 to 8 pm, Chopra will perform at the gallery, which will also host his installation, Blackening VI: Engine No. 3157. His drawings will be on display at Chatterjee & Lal, Colaba, which include moody cloudscapes, ranging from the monumental to the intimate.

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Women artists, front and centre

Then there are exhibitions of celebrated women artists, Anjolie Ela Menon and Rekha Rodwittya. Menon, now in her eighties, is showing in Mumbai after almost 8 years. Her show, titled ‘Anjolie The Wanton Fabulist’, made up of her recent paintings and some from her family’s collection will open at Art Musings, Colaba.

Rodwittya’s exhibition at Sakshi art gallery is titled ‘We are meant to survive …beyond our bodies’. She continues to explore the female body form, gender politics, her lived experiences and the role of memories in our lives.

Exciting workshops

Day 4 of the weekend will see artist-led workshops. Coinciding with his exhibition, ‘New Arcadia’, artist Ian Malhotra will conduct a workshop at Galerie Isa, merging artistry with inspiration. Participants will explore the world of codes, including binary and Morse systems, and create individual binary drawings. These pieces will eventually merge into a collaborative drawing under Malhotra's guidance.

Artist Ricky Vasan, also at Galerie Isa, will talk about autobiographical storytelling while exploring memories and nostalgia, and showcasing significant moments, places, and people in his life, which often feature in his works.

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Talks programme

This year also marks the debut of Mumbai Gallery Weekend’s talk programme. ‘The Curatorial Futures: Art Foundations in the UAE’ will discuss diverse models, regional dynamics, and plans of the UAE’s contemporary art institutions. The speakers are Dawn Ross (head of collections, Art Jameel, UAE), Nawar Al Qassimi (vice president, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE), Sabih Ahmed (associate director and curator, Ishara Art Foundation, UAE) and Vaidehi Savnal (curator, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, India). It will be moderated by Inakshi Sobti (CEO, of Asia Society).

Riddhi Doshi is a Mumbai-based art, culture and travel writer.

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