Beyond The Biennale: Visit These Kochi Galleries For Year Round Art Exhibitions

Inside the OED Gallery & the  Durbar Hall Art Gallery
Inside the OED Gallery & the Durbar Hall Art GalleryL: OED Gallery R: Durbar Hall Art Gallery

As the curtain fell on the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2022-23, the streets of Fort Kochi have emptied out. While the biennale might be the biggest art event to grace the locale, its history and culture have always been deeply entwined with art. The streets of the west Kochi town are dotted with small art cafes and gallery shops that feature the work of the many artists who call it home. Since the Kochi Muziris Biennale was a 3-month long project that had all of the artists, curators and programmers working overtime, many venues are taking a much-needed break. 

But if you’re visiting Fort Kochi and seeking to experience the work of brilliant artists and well-curated exhibitions, the following are three popular venues to consider. While some of them are not exactly in Fort Kochi and are rather in the city of Ernakulam, make sure to do a little prior research through their social media to know their latest exhibits and timings.

Gallery OED Cochin

Established in 2012, Gallery OED is located on Bazaar Road in Mattancherry and is one of those places that can draw you in while you’re walking around the town. It is a privately owned venue that consistently displays curated exhibitions by contemporary artists. An old pepper warehouse, the gallery was renovated by Calicut-based architectural firm Thought Parallels . The renovation was done in a way to maintain the subtle design of the old building and to provide an expansive setting for the artworks that they hoped to display. Most recently OED Gallery hosted the Exhibition titled Expansive Souls which featured the works of prominent contemporary artists including KR Sunil, Sujith S N, Dibin Thilakan, Reghunadhan K and Zakkir Hussain. 

Durbar Hall Art Gallery

Located in Ernakulam South, one of the entry points to Fort Kochi, Durbar Hall Art Gallery is a venue that has been consistently hosting exhibitions in the last few decades. Currently functioning in association with The Kerala Lalithakala Academy, the gallery is housed on a 2-acre land that is important in the cultural landscape of Kochi. Even during the reign of the Kochi Maharajas, the Durbar Hall Ground was a venue for big events, and the building that is now the art gallery was an official building from which official proclamations were made. The renovated Durbar Hall Art Gallery houses artworks by greats such as Raja Ravi Varma and more. They also host curated exhibitions throughout the year. Most recently, they were a venue for the IDAM exhibit in association with the Kochi Muziris Biennale which featured the works of up-and-coming artists.

You can contact them at 0484 236 7748

Kerala Museum

For those seeking to learn more about the history of Kerala, the Kerala Museum in Edapally is worth a visit. It features a light and sound show that takes the visitors through the story of the land and its history. It was founded by industrialist R.Madhavan Nayar in 1984 and is managed today by his foundation. The permanent Gallery at the museum features a compilation of art from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first. They house approximately three hundred works of artists that include M.F. Hussain, F.N.Souza, Jamini Roy, Raja Ravi Varma and more. They also have multiple gallery spaces that host varying contemporary art exhibitions as well as art and cultural events throughout the year. In current times, they have been working with organisations such as Kochi Biennale, KNMA, Sahapedia, Lalitakala Akademi, and Sangeet Natak Akademi to host regular exhibitions, workshops, talks and performances. 

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