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Not playing to the gallery

SHAILAJA TRIPATHI
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LAUNCH As Galleryske, a popular name in Bangalore’s art scene, opens another space in Delhi, its founder Sunitha Kumar Emmart tells SHAILAJA TRIPATHI about the immense opportunities in the Capital

Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Gallery openings are an evening affair in the city. They hardly take place on a Sunday and that too on an afternoon. But Sunitha Kumar Emmart is carrying a bit of Bangalore in her and hence not sticking to the norms. So when Sunitha opened Galleryske in Delhi she did it on a lazy Sunday afternoon sans wine and cheese. A day after the opening, the gallery founder recalled, “There were salads, beer and lot of talk. It was very relaxed. By the end of it only artists remained so it really seemed like an adda ” — something that has gradually vanished from Delhi but continues to be an integral part of Bangalore, courtesy numerous artist-led spaces which throb with energy. Those familiar with Galleryske’s work in Bangalore could expect it, along with a few that already exist, to fill that gap but it is just too early to expect anything of a gallery that began its operations in the Capital in Connaught Place only on Monday.

As of now, art admirers can just be happy about yet another space to view contemporary art. Back home in Bangalore, Galleryske — it takes its name from the initials of its owner — is known for its work around contemporary art and in such diverse media that it has earned the tag of an ‘alternative space’. It annoys Sunitha but that hasn’t deterred her from showing the artists she wants to. She will remain committed to the cause of contemporary art in her newest space as well. “I will continue to show 15 artists like Sudershan Shetty, Prabhavati Meyyapil, Sheela Gowda, Bharti Kher, Krishnaraj Chonat etc and out of these eight are from Bangalore, so people will get to see the work of many Bangalore-based artists. I will also show many foreign artists,” says Sunitha adding that what is alternative for others is mainstream for her. “As a gallery our role is to put forward to the viewers something that will prompt them to think. A gallery is a space for which an artist gives you his/her art to share it with the world. Galleries are facilitators.”

In Bangalore, she opened Galleryske in 2003, when there were just handful of galleries around — most notable of them being Gallery Sumukha — but she went ahead nevertheless to explore Bangalore’s art scene. After having discovered artists like Sudershan Shetty, Sheela Gowda and Sakshi Gupta etc., showcased emerging names and experimental art in varied media in these 10 years in Bangalore, Sunitha has ushered in a new phase in the journey of the gallery by starting another space in Delhi.

“For last two years, I was really feeling this need to expand and get more visibility and audience. You just have to make things exciting for yourself. In Bangalore, at times, it felt that one is doing things for oneself but here I think we would be more conscious of so many people looking at us,” says Sunitha adding that the city, brimming with institutions, structures and heritage, offers immense opportunities for a gallery like hers. Situated in F Block of Connaught Place (C.P.), the expansive single exhibition area designed by international architect Annalisa Bellettati is housed in Shivam House, a structure that was built in 1940.

That Galleryske — the latest addition to the list of the galleries in Delhi — chose a location like C.P. is another deviation. “I love C.P. It’s filled with characters. While in Bangalore, I have a crooked garden house as my gallery, here located in a market area, it has an industrial feel to it. It’s quirky and so much could be done to it. For instance the space right in front of the gallery can be cleaned up a bit and turned into a simple café for anybody to come and sit. May be an artist could utilise this space but I don’t want to freak my neighbours right at the onset. But everybody seems curious. The chanawala was asking me what this gallery business is so I have invited him over. I am also looking for a collaborator for an outreach activity with kids like in Bangalore where we work with just one batch of school kids through the year.”

(Galleryske has opened with a group show of 13 artists, which will be on at the gallery till January 4, 2014)

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