Art News & Views

All Roads Lead to Delhi's New Art Street

There was a time when a trip to the bourgeois Hauz Khas Village was a must-do on every high-heeled art lover's weekend itinerary. In the last few months, however, the sleepy South Delhi neighbourhood of Lado Sarai has emerged as the new art destination with four new art galleries having opened their doors to public since January this year. When Latitude 28 opened early this year with its inaugural show “Size Matters of Does it?”, director and curator Bhavna Kakar could not conceal her delight at being part of the “most happening art hub” in the city. In close proximity to her tastefully designed gallery lies Exhibit 320, owned and managed by collector-turned gallerist Rasika Kajaria which opened at the same time, and boasts of an equally appealing aesthetics in both design and art.

“There is so much energy in this place,” says Bhavna Kakar, “with so many galleries on one street; viewers can find a huge diversity and variety of art to look at during one visit alone.” The biggest advantage, as gallery owners at Lado Sarai point out, is that the rent rates are lower than areas in central Delhi like Defence Colony or Connaught Place and much larger gallery space is available, viable for the new age art that most galleries now prefer to show. For instance, for her inaugural show, Kakar's gallery window exhibited Siddhartha Kararwal's 'Wardrobe Closet' installation - a small TV and a messy heap of sweaters and disembodied arms against an etched glass window!

Not that Lado Sarai didn't have its share of art before! In fact, when Mamta Singhania of Anant Art Gallery, the first to chance upon Lado Sarai as a 'legal gallery space', set shop in the lane two years ago, she knew exactly the upside of moving to a nondescript area that now is teeming with dozens of galleries. “I have a 6000 square feet space here,” says Singhania, “I don't think I would have got a similar space elsewhere.” Those that followed suit like Art Motif, Art Eterne, Gallery Threshold forced by the MCD sealing drive in residential areas where some of them were located also benefited from Lado Sarai's closeness to the hip designer locales of Mehrauli and Qutub. In the last two years, the street has been inundated with more galleries, some serious art ventures and others like - Artoholics, Krishna's Collection, Ragini, La Indaprastha Art Gallery, Gallery Ruki, as well as online art portal Lantern of Art.

While this could be deemed as severe competition - and some seniors do complain that wannabes in the area are playing havoc with prices by offering art at inexplicably low prices - most find solace in the fact that more galleries mean more visitor footfall. “It's good news for everyone. We get a lot of walk-ins, regular people move from one gallery to another. And serious art buyers can also find more choice,” says Kajaria. Kakar adds: “We're trying to work together and maybe even do group openings. Now Lado Sarai is on 'the art map' people coming to Delhi visit this place least once, so it's great that it's all in one place.”

It seems, thus, barring the tiresome approach to the crowded bylanes of Lado Sarai, that it's a win-win situation for all. Each gallery has its own appeal and own niche. While Anant Art Gallery concentrates on extremely cutting edge art like installations and videos, Art Motif is more traditional in approach and also offers some of the most affordable prices one can get in Delhi. For one of Art Motif's recent shows, for example, a solo show by Radhika Chand had works starting from Rs 10,000 upwards. While Latitude 28 focuses on young contemporary names, mainly working towards thematic and curated shows, Threshold focuses a lot of sculptures  the new art fad in the city!

Interestingly, galleries have also found their own way out to utilise Lado Sarai's new avatar to their advantage. Senior galleries like Art Motif, Threshold and Anant plan shows in a way that their art openings fall on the same day while younger ones like Exhibit 320 and Latitude 28 are planning to have joint shows.

No wonder then, in a few weeks' time, one of the most respected names in Delhi's art circles, Bajaj Capital Art House will also open its doors with the opening of Gallery Art Positive that will have a multi-dimensional aspect to woo art lovers. Says Anu Bajaj, Director, Art Positive: “After the successful completion of one year of Bajaj Capital Art House, I felt that we needed a physical space that would offer much more than just art on the walls. So, we will also be launching an art book café at Lado Sarai. Combining both the gallery and the cafe, BCAH will hold a series of interactive events in art appreciation as a holistic experience for connoisseurs, collectors, artists, art experts and business leaders.”

Bajaj is also elated about the event calendar she has in plan to stand out in the crowded artscape of Lado Sarai. Personal tête-à-tête with master artists as well as promising young artists will be hosted in addition to curated shows that will felicitate both veterans and upcoming talent.

Well, whoever said too many cooks spoil the broth perhaps now needs to visit the art street at Lado Sarai!

Poonam Goel 





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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.