Art

The Ultimate Show Guide To Art & Design In Mumbai For 2024

Explore Mumbai's thriving art scene with a potpourri of exhibitions delving into identity, environmental interaction and social discourse. From Yamini Nayar's evocative 'Ouroboros' to Neha Choksi's immersive 'Porous Earth,' experience the life-changing power of art.

  • 11 Apr '24
  • 12:45 pm by Virender Singh

This season’s lineup in Mumbai explores themes of identity, human connection and our interaction with the environment, showcasing the innovative works of contemporary artists. Yamini Nayar’s ‘Ouroboros’ explores the cyclical nature of progress and destruction through her avant-garde assemblages. ‘Gandi Baat’ at 47-A uses design activism to provoke intellectual banter, emphasising the role of art in social change. Krishna Reddy’s retrospective at Experimenter highlights the enduring power of friendships and collaborative creativity. ‘Parallel Cities II’ at Nature Morte reimagines urban landscapes through the lens of diverse and intersecting lived experiences. At the same time, Neha Choksi’s ‘Porous Earth’ at Project 88 blurs the boundaries between engineering and geological processes, espousing our symbiosis with the natural world. Together, these exhibitions elicit the transformative potential of art to challenge, making them essential visits for anyone looking to engage deeply with the 21st-century zeitgeist.

Also Read: Into The Future: How These 3 International Artists Are Transforming Visual Storytelling With Generative A.I.

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Feeding the Silkworm (2024), Archival Pigment Print. (Image Credits: Jhaveri Contemporary)

#1 Ouroboros, Yamini Nayar at Jhaveri Contemporary, Colaba, May 9 to June 15, 2024

With moulting skin, the serpent of human progress consumes everything in its wake, ultimately swallowing its tail. ‘Ouroboros’, Yamini Nayar’s latest solo exhibition at Jhaveri Contemporary, delves into themes of cyclical renewal and transformation as our civilization negotiates its problematic relationship with Mother Nature. Co-presented with Thomas Erben in New York, this unique show evokes femininity within organic forms, transitioning from her focus, previously on modernist silhouettes. Differently sized and collaged over time, Nayar’s life-size assemblages transform mundane ephemera into a profound visual narrative. 

Incorporating the camera apparatus within her process, Nayar meticulously captures the psychological dimensions of space, tearing down and rebuilding as she goes. Key pieces such as ‘Feeding the Silkworm’ and ‘Full Circle’ embody Nayar’s thematic depth, a testament to her unwavering interest in architecture and the psychological dimensions of space that you may take for granted. An amorphous hodgepodge of paper, plaster and studio detritus, ‘Ouroboros’ is a must-see for its unique fusion of material and mythology.

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Andh Bhakt Series (2023); Wooden Masks. (Image Credits: 47-A)

#2 Gandi Baat at 47-A, Girgaum, May 04 to June 02, 2024

Amidst the distractions of modern life, ‘Gandi Baat’ emerges as a powerful reminder of the significance of political discourse through the lens of design activism. The participating artists — including Abhishek Ray, Achira Basu, Ashish Ghosh, Meenakshi Sengupta, Phalguni Samanta, Samir Roy, Sanjita Sarkar, Shohini Gupta, Soumitra Adhikari, Sumanta Chakraborty, Tamal Bhattacharya, Tulu Sarkar and Vivek Kumar — were handpicked for their ability to engage audiences and spark curiosity. 

From traditional Gomira wooden masks sensitively sculpted by Tulu Sarkar to upcycled fabric artefacts by Shohini Gupta, ‘Gandi Baat’ reinforces how design catalyses change. Curated by Swarup Datta, this exhibition is a panoply of artistic styles and techniques, augmenting its ability to inspire empathy and action.

Also read: New in Mumbai: Three Galleries You Must Visit

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From left: Great Clown (1980-81), Multicolour viscosity print on paper; To a New Form (1968), Bronze. (Image Credits: Experimenter)

#3 Of Friendships, Krishna Reddy at Experimenter, Colaba, Ongoing until June 15, 2024

‘Of Friendships: Krishna Reddy & His World’ is a tribute to Krishna Reddy’s extensive artistic journey and the deep friendships he forged over seven decades. This exhibition showcases rare and early works by Reddy, alongside pieces by his contemporaries and students such as Stanley William Hayter, Zarina and Nalini Malani.

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Demonstrators (1968), Multicolour viscosity print on paper. (Image Credits: Experimenter & The Estate of Krishna Reddy)

The artworks are rich in detail and craftsmanship, particularly his metal engravings, which he treated as intricate sculptures. The exhibit also features ‘The Great Clown (Le Grand Clown),’ demonstrating Reddy’s skill in manipulating materials and inks to create unique prints. Additionally, the display of his early prints from the 1950s and 1960s reveals his range of thought and technical control. 

A highlight of the exhibition is the presentation of Reddy’s metal printing plates, rarely seen in public, offering a glimpse into his meticulous process. The show also includes a selection of etchings that explore human gestures and movements through abstraction, underscoring Reddy’s deep philosophical and artistic insights. ‘Of Friendships: Krishna Reddy & His World’ highlights Reddy’s innovative multicolour viscosity printing technique, showcasing his mastery in printmaking, engraving, and sculpture.

Also Read: A Guide to Exhibitions Outside The Venice Biennale: Art, Music, Design, and Jewellery

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Bombay Cinemas House Museum (2024); Teakwood structure with silver gelatin print. (Image Credits: Nature Morte)

#4 Parallel Cities II at Nature Morte, Colaba, May 16 to July 06, 2024

Drawing inspiration from Italo Calvino’s visionary narratives, ‘Parallel Cities II’ at Nature Morte’s Mumbai gallery delves into the intersections of cosmopolitan life, personal stories and collective experiences. The exhibition, curated by Andrea Anastasio, showcases a kaleidoscopic exploration of the human condition. Trailblazing visionaries steering this visual narrative forward include Stefano Arienti, Mayank Austen Soofi, Alice Cattaneo, Elisabetta Di Maggio, Parul Gupta, Martand Khosla, Ayesha Singh, Dayanita Singh, Diwik Singh and Viswanadhan.

The overarching theme of ‘Parallel Cities II’ revolves around reimagining modern-day landscapes through poetic and passionate works that resonate with each other. By featuring artists who are refugees, diaspora members, and outsiders in various senses, including queer and folk artists, the exhibition underscores the diverse and complex tapestry of urban life. It highlights the multiple crises concerning the movement and existence of people across borders, reflecting on the perils and pitfalls of language, translation and ethnicity. The exhibition aims to evoke introspection, encouraging visitors to explore the shared narratives that bind communities together.

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Release Imperfect From Every Pore (2024); Limestone dust in kiln cast glass, limestone. (Image Credits: Project 88)

#5 Porous Earth at Project 88, Colaba, March 28 to May 25, 2024

Neha Choksi’s ‘Porous Earth’ is an otherworldly exhibition that blurs the boundaries of engineering and geological processes. Choksi embodies various roles: a child digging, an excavator boring and a horologist counting intervals. She becomes the elements and tools of her art: an ancient sea forming the seabed, limestone, a core drill bit, a chisel and the dug hole itself. 

The materials she uses—stone, glass, and air—embody the dichotomy between nature and human intervention. Choksi’s process involves transforming stone into delicate sculptures, creating pieces that encapsulate the fragility and resilience of the natural world. ‘Porous Earth’ is not just an exhibition but a meditation on the continuous, porous exchange between human beings and the earth beneath our feet. This exhibit underscores Choksi’s ability to merge poetic introspection with physical materials, offering a contemplative and immersive experience.