Delhi: The Exhibitionists

Courtesy Nature Morte Gallery

When Connecticut-born gallerist Peter Nagy opened Delhi’s Nature Morte (A-1 Neeti Bagh; naturemorte.com) in 1997—a decade after shuttering its predecessor in New York—people took notice. The space changed the way many of the city’s gallerists, artists, and collectors thought about contemporary Indian art and how to show it. A converted house, Nature Morte comprises five rooms over three floors and functions as much as a clubby salon as it does a conventional white-box gallery, having even hosted the odd harpsichord recital.

Nagy shows work that other galleries in Delhi have been slow to exhibit—photography and graphic art, installations and new media. And he’s championed artists who now have international cachet, among them Thukral & Tagra, Bari Kumar, and Subodh Gupta, two of whose works sold for over $600,000 at Christie’s London in June, beating the estimates by more than $100,000. Nagy has also advocated for now globally known photographers such as Dayanita Singh and Sheba Chhachhi and performance and new media artists like the quirky Pushpamala N. Today Nature Morte shows at fairs from Basel to New York, Dubai to Miami, frequently with its partner gallery Bose Pacia, which has spaces in New York and Calcutta. And this month the gallery shows whimsical paintings by Dhruvi Acharya.

Any Delhi art-house short list should also include Vadehra Art Gallery (D-178 Okhla Phase I; vadehraart.com) and Bodhi Art (Grand Mall, Mehrauli Gurgaon Rd.; bodhiart.in). Vadehra has a partnership with London’s Grosvenor Gallery and two spaces in Delhi, one of them cavernous; Bodhi has outposts in Berlin, New York, Mumbai, and Singapore. Both represent the cream of Indian painters, with Vadehra showing such established heavy hitters as A. Ramachandran and S. H. Raza, and Bodhi displaying emerging stars like Gargi Raina and Riyas Komu. The single-artist shows at both galleries mustn’t be missed and, unlike some of the large-scale installations at Nature Morte, these paintings can be taken home with you.