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Calcutta: Indian Modern: The Big 5

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Calcutta has been at the forefront of the Indian modern art movement since it began in the early 1900s, and today visitors can experience this cultural heritage, as well as more contemporary work, at the city’s many galleries. At last count, there were 40-some top-drawer ones, with another space opening every few months, but we’ve culled five of the most discerning.

Aakriti Art Gallery

Since 2005 husband-and-wife Vikram and Priya Bachhawat have shown contemporary visionaries (Amitava Dhar, Sekhar Roy), up-and-comers (Ritendra Roy, Rajesh Deb), and select masters (Kartick Pyne, Gobardhan Ash) in their vibrant space. The gallery has an entire wing devoted to sculpture, and the duo has helped set up Emami Chisel Art, eastern India’s first permanent art auction house. Orbit Enclave, 12/3A Picasso Bithi;

Bose Pacia Gallery

Open only 18 months, this outpost of the renowned New York gallery—which represents sculptor Subodh Gupta, two of whose all-the-rage pieces fetched a combined $1.2 million at Christie’s London in May—has already established itself on the scene here. The massive, high-ceilinged space cries out for installations and projected photographic exhibitions. (There’s an outlet in Delhi, too.) Stephen Court, 18 Park St.;

Centre of International Modern Art

Founded in upmarket Bollygunge in 1993 by Rakhi Sarkar, wife of media mogul Aveek, CIMA exhibits a range of painters and sculptors—pioneers Somnath Hore and K. G. Subramanyan, modernist Akbar Padamsee, and postmodernist Atul Dodiya, along with younger talents in summer shows. Sarkar is busy working on the forthcoming Herzog & de Meuron–designed Kolkata Museum of Modern Art, but her sister Pratiti Basu Sarkar is an able guide. Don’t miss the gallery’s charming shop. Sunny Towers, 43 Ashutosh Chowdhury Ave.;

Chitrakoot Art Gallery

This salonlike space, established in 1984 in Bollygunge, exhibits young and established painters—often abstractionists—and sculptors. A favorite is Ganesh Pyne, whose trademark figurative tempera paintings start at $200,000. There’s also a permanent collection of rare early Bengal works, Kalighat folk paintings, and East India Company art. Presidency Court, 55 Ashutosh Chowdhury Ave.;

Galerie ’88

For two decades Supriya Banerjee has filled her centrally located space with some of the leading names in Indian contemporary art: painters M. F. Husain and Francis Newton Souza (both of whom command million-dollar prices on the international market) and sculptor Meera Mukherjee. When the gallery opened, 14 works by the late Bikash Bhattacharjee, a master of realism and surrealism, sold out in half an hour. 28B Shakespeare Sarani;


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