CheMoulding: Framing Future Archives: 60 Years of Gallery Chemould | Group Show
Curated by Shaleen Wadhwana
In our first exhibition, Part 1 Framing, there was historical context to be built, whilst giving a nod to the art frame moulding shop beginnings of Chemould.In the second exhibition, Part 2 Futuring, this conversation looks forward to the future. We envision where we are in our present, and where we are going through the lens of our present realities, disruptions and how we want the world to be shaped in the coming decades. So specifically technological advancements which change our perception of reality, timeless truths which outlast us - love, death, family, idea of home - our future in peril from the distortions of history, destructions of minorities, ideas of 'otherness' and our internal battles with whatever is too different than us. All of this too greets us in our future. With Futuring, we try to unpack all this - keeping an eye on our past while looking towards the future.
On the occasion of Chemould in Bombay turning 60 years old, we invite you to immerse in our intergenerational celebration. Chemould Frames was started by Kekoo Gandhy at the heels of Indian independence in 1947. It served as the salon for artists of the time such as F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, M. F. Husain and more. It grew into Gallery Chemould at its iconic location on the first floor of Jehangir Art Gallery from 1963 where the partnership of Khorshed and Kekoo Gandhy fostered what we now know as Indian contemporary art.
From 1988, Shireen Gandhy helmed the gallery directorship and in 2007 it relocated to its current home, Chemould Prescott Road. This timeline has been punctuated by anniversary exhibitions in its 25th year, 40th year and its 50th year.
To mark this seminal year of 2023, the gallery has archived its extensive history - being the first in India to do so. Over 15,000 items like letters, awards, invitation cards, albums, catalogues, press clippings, photographs, CDs, mounted slides, stamps, emails, telegrams are part of documentation from India, Switzerland, Italy, Afghanistan, UAE, Germany, UK, USA and Australia.
For the 60th year anniversary exhibition at Chemould Prescott Road, curator Shaleen Wadhwana has conducted in depth archival research to create multiple entry points into six decades of Indian contemporary art. She presents ‘CheMoulding | Framing Future Archives’ which is a two part exhibition previewing on 15th September. “This exhibition keeps archival history at its core as it unpacks artistic responses towards emotion, nurturing, society, and self. By adding the present continuous suffix ‘ing’, it makes Chemould a verb, an act of creating fearless spaces for artistic freedom since 1963. This exhibition contextualises that reality for our present times (where such spaces are threatened). It recognises the art frame moulding company as the genesis of this gallery which is a catalyst in moulding Indian art history and its contemporary present.
Over 30+ Chemould contemporaries ranging from Jitish Kallat, Shilpa Gupta, Anju Dodiya to Varunika Saraf, Nilima Sheikh have responded to personalised curatorial prompts from the archive, surrounded by archival memorialisation of veteran artists ranging from Tyeb Mehta, K.H. Ara to Bhupen Khakhar, Rummana Hussain, Jangarh Singh Shyam. The mediums explored are painting, sculpture, textile, film, printmaking, audio, photography, drawing, literature and installation. Reflecting on the gallery’s public institutional role and its internal everyday idiosyncrasies, this exhibition connects the Indian Art Movement and its relationship with Bombay, with India and the rest of the world. We also have Rememberiing,, a special week-long nostalgic revisitation of the former Gallery Chemould space with public programming. All of this is presented to you, the viewer, who is the witness to this history in the making, and takes us into a braver, kinder, more aware future.”
-Shaleen Wadhwana, Curator, CheMoulding
“Gallery Chemould 1963-2007 /Chemould Prescott Road 2007 - ongoing, has at any given time been a space, a model, a gallery that speaks of and to contemporary times. CheMoulding looks at an archive of over 60 years, which speaks to the present, and to the future abiding by the contemporaneous nature of the gallery. I carry the legacy of my parents Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy who generously passed on the baton to me 35 years ago. Theirs was a model of wearing the badge of authenticity and truth, which were big shoes to fill; I continue to honour my parents and this space they created when there was no art world, all those many years ago.”
-Shireen Gandhy, Gallery Director, Chemould Prescott Road
Shaleen Wadhwana is an independent researcher, art curator, and culture professional. Her curatorial practice explores artistic responses to historical and contemporary issues surrounding society and self. This is reflected in FRIN/GE at Vadehra Art Gallery, Delhi (2021), and OSMOSIS at TARQ, Mumbai(2019). In 2022, she curated The Sindhu Project which explores the Indus Valley Civilisation as a collaboration between artists in India, Pakistan and the USA. She is academically trained in Art History (SOAS, London), Cultural Heritage Law (University of Geneva-UNESCO), Liberal Arts (Young India Fellowship, Ashoka University), Arts Appreciation(National Museum, Delhi), and History (Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University). As a Visiting Faculty at MIT Institute of Design, Pune, she teaches Big History and Design Futures and is the Humanities curriculum designer for their Innovation Programme. In 2023, she was invited by the Ministry of Culture to teach at their Culture Management Course. She co-founded The Chime Project (TCP) which creates cultural trails through music and history at The National Museum Delhi, and The Cities of Dehli (CoD) which takes 16 different 'cities' of Delhi's past, present and future through educational walking tours. Her research on cultural repatriation has been showcased at the Art and Antiquities Conference, in Mumbai, and in the India Perspectives Journal of the Ministry of External Affairs, India. Recently, her research was crucial in creating The Unfiltered History Tour about looted artefacts at the British Museum London, by Vice World News UK and DentsuWebchutney. It bagged 12 awards at the Cannes Lions Festival in France - a first time ever for India.