All The Best Things To Do In Mumbai If You're An Art Lover

All The Best Things To Do In Mumbai If You're An Art Lover

Over the years the city’s art community has begun to challenge the conventional notions of art. While beautiful works like oil on canvas will always be much-loved medium and appreciated, people have welcomed new avenues, spaces and mediums such as street art, installations and videos. Art is no longer limited to inaccessible high society galleries.

That’s probably why the media and art industries thrive in the city with people flocking to the metropolis for a variety of opportunities. The city by the bay is perhaps one of the most open-minded and welcoming when it comes to the arts, but you don’t have to be an artist yourself to truly appreciate everything it has to offer. With such diverse communities and histories, there is a dearth of spaces, festivals and galleries to satisfy all art-lovers in the city.

Contemporary Art Galleries

I. Tarq

Location: Dhanraj Mahal, C.S.M. Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.

This contemporary art gallery is nurturing a conversation around art from a diverse range of contexts. Some of their unusual and thought provoking exhibits have been Pocket Maps of the Mind (Residues of Memory); that looks at the multi-faceted nature of memory and Views of the Spirit; an exhibition of photographs by the legendary surrealist photographer, Man Ray. Their upcoming exhibition ‘Where The Water Takes Us’ marks Rithika Merchant’s first solo exhibition at TARQ that explores migration, displacement and belonging through the idiom of epics and myths

II. Artisans’ Centre

Location: 52 - 56, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

This gallery is a social enterprise committed to supporting India’s indigenous art, craft and design heritage, with a sustainable marketplace that inspires conscious consumer choice. They also host many interactive performances, lectures and workshops by indigenous artists. In their endeavour to economically promote indigenous art, the Artisan’s Gallery Shop houses handpicked and handmade collectibles all year round! The Gond artists of Madhya Pradesh, the ancient Japanese art Shibori; creating patterns on paper and weaving stories of folklore through the art of Pithora painting by the indigenous Bhil tribe are just some of the many art forms Artisans allows you to engage with.

III. Volte

Location: Sumer Kendra, Pandurang Buhadkar Marg, Worli

This is one of the pioneering galleries of the city to have embraced all media beyond paintings; including video, performance and installations in its exhibits. They focus on artist centric projects to create a cultural experience that challenges the boundaries of art in India and expand the horizons of the Indian audiences. It represents the works of important and established South Asian and international artists. Some of Volte’s critically acclaimed shows include ‘Sweet Unease’ by Ranbir Kaleka and ‘Your Name is Different There’ which was curated by Nancy Adajania.

Location: 58, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

Established in 1993 as a private gallery, DAG is spread over multiple floors of a restored colonial-era building. Their carefully curated exhibitions showcase the best of modern Indian art from their extensive collection, celebrating the Masters of Indian art over the years. Their collection includes some of the greatest Indian artists such as MF Hussain, FN Souza, Amrita Sher-Gil, Raja Ravi Verma, SH Raza and Chittaprosad, to name a few. They regularly host outreach programmes with schools and colleges. They’ve taken it upon themselves to showcase the best that India has to offer in the international art world. Their current exhibition ‘India’s French Connection’ sheds light on the influence that French art movements had on Indian artists in Paris, including reputed modernists like Amrita Sher-Gil, FN Souza and SH Raza.

Location: Ground Floor, BMP Building, Narayan A Sawant Rd, Azad Nagar, Colaba.

This gallery space is as unique as the art it exhibits; 4,000 square feet of what was formerly a century old metal printing press. It showcases exhibitions of experimental and ambitious work in all media by artists whose practice have a strong conceptual foundation. In the past the gallery has displayed the works of artists such as the eccentric Otolith Group; they create art from films, installations, and performances that are driven by extensive research into the histories of science fiction and the legacies of transnationalism, the works of graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee and Hemali Bhuta’s ‘Point-Shift and Quoted Objects’ .

Other incredible and seminal galleries that definitely should be on you gallery-tour list include the Jehangir Art Gallery, Sakshi Gallery, Chatterjee & Lal, Chemould Prescott Road Gallery and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke.

Photography by Kunal Bhatia of TARQ Gallery
Photography by Kunal Bhatia of TARQ Gallery
Photography by Kunal Bhatia of TARQ Gallery

Art Festivals

Founded in 2011, the India Art Festival is a contemporary art fair that creates a space for dialogue and collaborations between artists of every kind, galleries, art dealers, buyers and lovers. They provide a platform for emerging independent artists across the country to showcase their talents alongside established, reputed artists.

Upcoming dates in Mumbai are 17 - 20 January 2019.

The Mumbai Art Fair is hosted at the Nehru Centre and provides a platform for urban and rural artists to come together and showcase their work. They specially focus on independent artists who don’t have agency or gallery representation who want to exhibit their work for buyers and art connoisseurs. Their range of art showcases from paintings, sculptures and photographs to art prints and ceramics. There are also performances, poetry recitations and a showcase of performing arts at the adjoining auditorium during the Art Fair.

This years Fair was held in October, you can subscribe to their page and stay updated with upcoming events.

Since 2014, the St+Art Foundation has been making efforts to change that by bringing art out of the galleries and into the streets. Over the years they’ve been the instigators and facilitators of Mumbai’s most iconic street art and installations and theirs is probably the only street art festival in the country. Over 3 months, 30 international and local artists hit the cities iconic spots like Dharavi and Bandra and brightened up some dull spaces. It also included the ‘Sassoon Art Project’ walk through exhibition at Sassoon Docks in Colaba. St+art has changed the way we look at murals and street art, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.

Follow their page for updates about upcoming events and festival.

A nine-day-long annual festival, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is one of the highly awaited events for the city. Their programmes include a variety of events and activities across a variety of mediums and the beautiful open-air art installations enthral us all. It’s more of an arts and cultural celebration with something for everyone to enjoy, including children, like cinema, dance, heritage walks, workshops, food, theatre and the visual arts.

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival takes place every year in February. You can stay updated with the upcoming year’s dates on their website here.

Artist Residencies

I. What About Art?

An arts management agency based in Bandra, Mumbai, the What About Art? (WAA) residency was launched in 2013 and provides artists and curators with individual studio spaces, accommodation, a creative environment and networking opportunities.

More information about the residency here.

II. Space 118

Set up in 2010, Space118 provides artists a studio space and residencies on a monthly basis. In exchange for the studio time artists are required to grant a work which will be catalogued and exhibited in order to raise funds for the maintenance of the space. It is in Mazgaon, about a 15-minute drive to Kala Ghoda, an art hub of the city.

Find more details about Space 118’s space here.

III. Piramal Museum of Art

A prominent art space in the city, the Piramal Art Residency is located in Thane and selection is made on an application basis. Each residency is based on a cultural theme ranging from art, history, literature, social studies and science. With four studio rooms, the fully-funded residency is open to all visual artists as well as writers and curators.

Get all the information and application process on their website.

Space 118
Space 118
Space 118

I. Filter Shop - Kala Ghoda

If you’re an admirer of art but not quite as good with a brush yourself, Filter Shop is the place to go. They curate the work of graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, fashion experts, students and product innovators from across the country picking only the very best to showcase in their space. If you do want to pick up some goodies for yourself, take a look at their range of notebooks which have picked up rewards for their creativity and their desi range of chocolate with graphic wrappers that make them perfect for gifting.

II. dayDREAM - Kala Ghoda

This little haven nestled in the Mahalaxmi’s industrial mill complex offers everything an art enthusiast could want. Envisioned by photographer Prasad Naik and designer Manish Mansinh, the purpose of the space is to encourage creativity in all forms, be it art, photography, film, fashion, architecture or design. They aim to be a hub for dialogue and expression and even double up as a venue for private events.

III. Himalaya Fine Art - Dhobi Talao

The home of the professional artist, Himalaya offers the most extensive range of supplies in the country. Whether you work in oils and acrylics or favour a more modern, graphic approach they have absolutely everything under the sun. So whether you’re a professional looking to stock up or an amateur looking for quality over quantity, this is the place to be.

IV. Art Lounge - Churchgate

Their motto is simple, provide responsibly sourced, authentic goods at a fair price. Their loyalty is to the true spirit of art, they aim to make the highest quality of goods available to everyone and they offer supplies from a staggering number of brands. If however they don’t have what you’re for, just drop them an email and they’ll be happy to track down what you’re looking for. They’re also in the process of collecting a database so if you’re a designer or artist working in India, get in on the action and add your name to the list.

While the name is initially misleading, this little store is full of wonders for the artsy soul at heart. As an artist friend of ours said, “Guys, no jokes. It literally has everything you’d need!” We took his recommendation and agreed wholeheartedly — the staff here don’t mess around. They know their way around and are always willing to help a lost customer out, while recommending the best possible choices. Trust us when we say this is every art student’s little paradise.

VI. Kulture Shop - Bandra West & Kala Ghoda

The idea behind Bombay-based Kulture Shop is quite a novel one – to create a platform for talented and emerging graphic designers, by hiring them to create prints for their merchandise. India’s premier artist collective brings you original and exclusive designs on premium lifestyle products, while supporting the graphic arts industry by making sure their work is seen, discussed, appreciated – and monetised. Founded by Arjun Charanjiva, Jas Charanjiva and Kunal Anand, the Kulture Shop houses beautiful prints of young artists, zines, photograph, stationery and more, with two lovely locations in the city.

Iconic Street Art

From colourful drawings, sanctioned murals, old-school graffiti, and even the hilarious and strange “poker” scribbled around the city, Mumbai has seen several thousand pieces come and go over the years. While some street art collectives like St+Art India have breathed life back into vast, forgotten spaces, other artists have chosen well-trodden paths to convey social messages and share their artistic visions.

It’s impossible to collect and categorise every work - and some would argue that that is precisely the point - but here are some of the most beautiful and impactful works that have taken Mumbai by storm. What’s so special about street art is its unpredictability and elusiveness, so if you’ve seen these incredible works already, cherish them while they last. And if you haven’t, go seek them out before they fall prey to the next wild Mumbai monsoon.

I. Jas Charanjiva’s Pink Lady

No list of Mumbai’s street art scene is complete without featuring Jas Charanjiva, the co-creator of Kulture Shop, who is widely known for her “Pink Lady,” an all-pink, sari-clad Indian woman wearing gold jewellery and a knuckle duster that reads “BOOM.” The piece can be seen scattered across the city, from outside the Bagel Shop in Bandra to the streets near Leopold Cafe in Colaba. It was created after the 2012 Delhi rape case and is a simple and powerful call to action, meant to encourage dialogue. Similar to her other iconic works, Smoking is for Villains and Horn Not OK Please, the piece challenges social conditions with effortless wit. “The work I create on the street is intentionally easy to grasp and easy to forgive for being preachy because it’s cute, fun and adds some whimsy and beauty to their area,” she says.

II. #BreakingTheSilence by Jheel Goradia

You may have seen Jheel Goradia’s witty, hard-hitting pieces from her project, #BreakingTheSilence, on the walls near Juhu’s NMIMS college and other parts of the city. Using common and relatable Bollywood themes that turn sexist tropes on their heads, her work emphasises the frustrating and violent realities women go through daily – from eve-teasing and slut-shaming to domestic violence, rape and human trafficking. She hopes to inspire people to speak up for such injustices, understand them as national issues of moral bankruptcy, and work towards empowering women everywhere.

III. Bonded Not Bound by Shilo Shiv Suleman

The founder of The Fearless Collective, Suleman is a Bangalore-based street artist whose gorgeous portraits can be found on the walls of Fort and Dharavi, and in several other cities around the world. Suleman’s work puts the spotlight on gender imbalances in the country through eccentric designs and mystical themes. This piece in particular, titled ‘Bonded Not Bound’, is a beautiful, blue mural in the densely-populated Dharavi, created by a group of inter-generational local women and Suleman. It is an ode to the physical space that women share - by virtue of their constant proximity to each other in the city’s slums - but the lack of space to live, think, study and be free. For these women, some bonds are necessary while others are restrictive. This piece celebrates the sisterhood that they have built, the bonds that encourage care and support, but to which they are not bound.

IV. ‘Inside Out’ at Sassoon Docks

Last December, over 30 artists part of the St+Art Urban Art Festival undertook a massive art project to transform Mumbai’s 142-year-old Sassoon Docks in Cuffe Parade. One of the oldest docks and largest fish markets in the city, Sassoon Docks is now home to several murals and installations from artists around the world. One of the most relevant and impactful works is a piece by artist JR titled ‘Inside Out,’ a series of monochrome print portraits of local Koli residents, lining the exterior of the dock buildings. It’s a celebration of the vibrant Koli community, integral to Mumbai’s history and culture. Their stories are frequently overlooked, particularly since so much of their native space is industrialised, gentrified or otherwise taken over by the city (including Sassoon Docks itself). The work is a reminder of untold histories that are struggling to be kept alive in modern-day India.

V. Coming Home by DOME

This large, surrealist and colourful piece in Bandra, called ‘Coming Home’, was painted by German street artist DOME (@dome_streetart). Painted on the side of the 6-storey Diamond Arch Building next to Salt Water Cafe, it depicts a “boney” fisherman with a cow’s head, cycling home carrying the day’s catch and a guitar. Presumably a tribute to the hectic and unnoticed work of Bandra’s poor, urban fishermen, the piece is meticulously created with shiny gold acrylic paint in contrast to the building’s crumbling exterior. Subtly highlighting the city’s economic divides, the piece is thoroughly captivating to look at.

Source: Asian Paints website
Source: Asian Paints website
Source: Asian Paints website

VI. Boy Hugging The Rainbow - Supari Tank Municipal School, Bandra

Located on the exterior of Supari Tank Municipal School, this beautiful piece is by anonymous Hamburg artist TONA, whose work has been seen in cities across India since 1999. TONA’s work ranges from basic graffiti to sophisticated silkscreens, stencils and acrylic cutouts. His paintings are usually simple, sweet renditions that may be framed within larger social narratives. In this instance, the boy hugging a rainbow may well be a nod to the many Queer Azadi movements that have taken place in Mumbai. “In a world that often seems to be unfair, mean and brutal,” TONA uses “dreamy, sensual and emotional perspectives” – instead of the street art world’s “usual criticism and irony” – to counter the cynical perception that “people are blinkered.”

Workshops & Classes

Iteeha has grown to be a one-stop shop for everything related to design, textiles, consultancy and commissioned work. Popular among the city’s residents are the regular workshops they host. Screen-printing, ribbon embroidery, block-carving and traditional gond painting – their workshops are incredible entertaining but they’re also keeping the love and enthusiasm for a variety of art forms alive by engaging with the community.

Get your tickets and learn more about their workshops here.

Bombay Drawing Room organises painting parties and other such collaborative community events across the city. Founded by artist Sneha Patil, they encourage creative expression and freedom with public and private events such as Charcoal sketching, knife painting and recreation of famous paintings such as Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh.

Find information about their upcoming events on their website.

Led by Shefali Shah, the variety of classes range from ones for children, adults to workshops on Calligraphy, Warli painting, Canvas painting and Glass Painting. Right from young children to senior citizens, Shefali’s classes are for everyone and are hosted in Vile Parle West.

Find all the information on the website.

From painting mandala’s on pebbles to finger painting koi fish, Paintology’s classes are very innovative. They are hosted by Doolally Taproom across the city.

Book your spots here.

Feature image credits: (L) Kulture Shop & (R) Mumbai Street Art via Twitter

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