Bigwigs from the art fraternity pay tribute to the late Remani Nambiar at an exhibition organised by her daughter Lakshmi Nambiar, writes Ranjani Rajendra

Twelve years ago when Remani Nambiar set up Shrishti Art Gallery, her main focus was to support up and coming artists. Over a period of time the gallery went on to host works by several artists — senior and freshers – and built a name for itself. Now, three months after she passed away, Remani’s daughter Lakshmi is all set to take on the reins of the gallery. As Shrishti celebrates its 12th anniversary Lakshmi has invited 32 artists to display special works created in the memory of her mother in a series titled ‘Messages to Heaven’.

Originally an investment banker, Lakshmi gave up her job in Bengaluru six months ago to look after her ailing mother. After Remani’s death instead of going back to her job, Lakshmi decided to shuttle between the two cities and take over the gallery. “Whatever connect I have to art is through my mother. I began collecting art because of her and now have a pretty decent collection. However, when it was time to go back to my job, I decided against it. I want Shrishti to continue functioning the way it used to when my mother was around,” she says. To celebrate the 12th anniversary of the gallery and as a tribute to Remani, Lakshmi invited 32 senior artists to create works inspired by some of her mother’s favourite things. “This is the first year mum is not around to celebrate Shrishti’s anniversary and we thought we should do something to pay a tribute to her. So we sent a package to each of these artists who’ve either had a show at Shrishti or had some kind of connect with mum. The package contained a 10x12 handmade paper, canvas board and some other items that reminded us of mum – a piece of her favourite sari, dry flowers and twigs from her ikebana collection and even some pieces of her handwriting from her notes,” she says.

With works by artists like Bose Krishnamachari, Achuthan Kudallur, D.L.N. Reddy, Arpana Caur, Thota Vaikuntam, Surya Prakash and Laxma Goud among others, the collection is an eclectic mix of works in memory of the lady who was popular among the art fraternity. While some of them have incorporated the items from the package, others have drawn upon their memories to create something as a tribute to Remani. Also these works will not be on sale. “We will keep them for posterity. It is a more personal collection,” explains Lakshmi.

Carrying on with Remani’s tradition of putting up an Ikebana arrangement at the inaugural of every art show, her friends will be setting one up. “Mum was the heart and soul of Shrishti. I want to carry forward what my mother had started. We will continue to support the budding artists just like my mother used to. I also want to provide them a bigger platform to showcase their works. So we are revamping the gallery’s website and trying to ensure that each artist gets to showcase his/her works online as well. The idea is to also create a platform where buying art gets easier,” says Lakshmi adding, that she also wants to tap into the business community. “There are a lot of people who can afford art but are not aware of the benefits of investing in it . I want to gradually spread that awareness and encourage more people to buy art.”

As of now Lakshmi is planning future shows and is trying to rope in more and more senior artists from across the country. “I want to bring in women artists from Europe. I plan to shuttle between Bengaluru and Hyderabad and also travel a bit and work towards helping the gallery grow. But all of this wouldn’t be possible without Rema’s help. She’s been working with my mother for ten years now and she knows the gallery inside out,” says Lakshmi.

‘Messages to Heaven’ will be on view at Shrishti Art Gallery from April 12 to April 30 between 11a.m. to 7p.m.