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India’s oldest gallery Dhoomimal Art Gallery on its Art Dubai Modern debut

Established in 1936, Delhi’s Dhoomimal Art Gallery, which began life as a stationary store, is considered India’s oldest gallery. The gallery was the first platform through which many of India’s modernists reached out to prospective buyers and made a name for themselves.


Ahead of Dhoomimal Art Gallery debut at Art Dubai, which opens tomorrow, we speak to gallery director, Uday Jain:


This is your first participation in Art Dubai. Do you have any expectations of what to expect from the fair?

During the 80s and 90s Indian art was bought a lot by foreigners based in India such as diplomats and expats, and some tourists too. However post-2000 the market has mostly been limited to the Indian community. Our main expectation from the fair would be to showcase the Indian modernists to a worldwide audience. It is also important to place these artists on a world stage, to emphasise the importance of the Indian modernist movement and to contextualise its importance not just in the region but across the world.

Hamri Ambadas Gade, Hillock, 1940, Represented by Dhoomimal Gallery

Can you explain your booth presentation and choice of artists?

Our booth will contain works from India’s leading modern artists especially from the Progressive Artists Group comprised of F.N.Souza, M.F.Husain H.A.Gade and K.H.Ara which was formed in Bombay in the 1940s. In addition to these works, we are also showing their senior contemporaries, Krishen Khanna and Ram Kumar, as well as Anjolie Ela Menon, one of India’s leading contemporary artists. These artists became associates of the group in 50s and 60s.


For the first time this year, the Modern section is being moved into the Contemporary halls to give it more context. Do you think this enhances the audience experience?

Yes, in my opinion, this is an important move. In previous editions, I feel the Modern section was separate from the main event and sometimes not visited as often as it should have been. It is a good idea to give the audiences a chance to see modern as well as contemporary art works in the same area. However, I still do feel it should be curated in a manner that modern and contemporary do not overlap too much.

Syed Haider Raza, Metaphor, 1982, Represented by Dhoomimal Gallery

With so many years of experience behind your institution, how important is it to attract new audiences and also to inform them about the history of modern Indian art?

It is the most important thing for any gallery or institution especially one that has been running for over 80 years such as ours, to keep up with times. We must make sure to constantly look for newer artists as well as new audiences. Also due to the fact that the Indian art market has become highly domesticated in recent decades, an international audience would really take this movement to the next level.

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