In a city where it’s always a struggle for artists to find gallery space, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel has opened up 1,000 sq ft in its heritage wing to artists and the public.
The luxury hotel relaunched its Taj Art Gallery on Thursday, with an exhibition of 15 works from the hotel’s own art collection, including works by Jehangir Sabavala, MF Hussain, VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar and Laxman Shreshtha.
“The hotel has made space for the gallery by moving its administration offices,” said Tejinder Singh, general manager of the hotel.
The Taj did in fact house a gallery of the same name on the ground floor, from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s. It was shut down to make room for the present-day lounge.
“The Taj Art Gallery was a prominent name and showcased the early works of a number of later-acclaimed artists, including like Husain, Gaitonde and Sabavala,” says Singh.
“We thought it would be a good idea to relaunch the space to help contribute to the future of today’s young artists.”
The idea is for the gallery to select and exhibit art that reflects the aesthetic of the heritage hotel, and showcase the works of established, emerging and new artists, says gallerist and curator Mortimer Chatterjee, consultant to the Taj collection and the gallery.
Laxman Shreshtha, for instance, remembers the Taj gallery hosting his first-ever solo show, in 1963.
“The king of Nepal bought many of my paintings then, and I got a great launch pad here,” he adds. “I am sure that the gallery will help in building many artists’ careers.”