If people want to see you, they will come irrespective of where you are, says Premilla Baid, director of Gallery Sumukha
It may not have the most romantic location for an art gallery, situated as it is on the premises of a hospital near a large bus depot, but step inside Gallery Sumukha on BTS Bus Depot Road in Wilson Garden and you’ll find yourself in another world entirely.
Spread over 5,000 sq ft, the gallery offers a peaceful space in which to contemplate art. “If people want to see you, they will come irrespective of where you are,” says its director Premilla Baid, who started the gallery at the Alliance Française de Bangalore in 1996, and moved it to Wilson Garden in 1999. She chose the current location because of the amount of space available, but there’s a bonus: Premilla is an ophthalmologist, and practises in the hospital on whose premises the gallery is located.
“We don’t often have people walking in off the street to look around,” she says, referring to the gallery’s inconspicuous location. Connectivity may have significantly altered Wilson Garden over the last few years, but that hasn’t made a difference to Sumukha in terms of the number of visitors it receives.
However, that hasn’t stopped it from growing into one of the most reputed commercial art galleries in the city. With several acclaimed shows in Bangalore and other parts of the country, Sumukha also has an international presence, and will be participating in a fair in Toronto this week, and Singapore, London and Hong Kong, next year.
From the gallery’s lowest point in 1998, when some of the paintings it had on display at the Alliance Française were slashed, Sumukha has gone on to a number of highs, including a print-making workshop in 2004 involving 16 artists from across the country, and a show in 2010 ‘Cinema Verite Redux’, curated by Shaheen Merali.
Premilla describes herself as a serious collector: “I have to react to the works. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, we try to work with people from an arts background.”
It isn’t a glamorous job at all, she says, and it involves plenty of hard work. “You have to travel to artists’ studios, plan shows at least a year in advance…when you’re doing shows outside [India], paintings have to be packed properly, and all your paperwork has to be done for it to go through customs. You really work your butt off in a gallery.”