Founder of Archer Art Gallery, Ahmedabad, Anil Relia is a printer and collector known for having popularised fine art serigraphy in India. He is notable for his long association with contemporary artist MF Hussain, whose work forms a large part of his personal collection as well as Archer’s archive.
A graduate in applied arts, serigraphy and photography from MS University, Baroda (now Vadodara), Relia purchased his first work of art while he was still a student. He bought a work by artist Bhupen Khakhar from an exhibition held at the university. After an unsuccessful attempt at exhibiting and selling a small collection of paintings across different cities in India, he returned to Ahmedabad in 1978 and started work as a graphic designer at an advertising firm. Soon after, due to an enthusiasm for printing, he set up a small graphic studio named Archer, with print-on-demand services for wedding invitations, greeting cards, visiting cards, brochures and letterheads. In 1994, through the architect BV Doshi, he made the acquaintance of MF Hussain, who encouraged him to venture into publishing serigraphs and prints of contemporary art.
Since 1994, Relia has been involved in the printing of limited edition graphics of the works of several contemporary artists, such as. MF Hussain, SH Raza, Jogen Chowdhury, Manjit Bawa, and many more. In particular, he assisted Hussain with creating several serigraphs of his works, including a print of Husain’s Mother Teresa (40 x 96 inches), the largest serigraph ever produced in India, which was exhibited in Paris in 2004. All the limited edition graphics executed by Relia under Archer are made in close consultation with the artists and signed by them, making each one a collectable piece of art.
Relia’s private collection has focussed on portraiture through different media and time periods in Indian art history, ranging from 16th century miniature paintings to the works of the Bombay Progressive Art group. He curated these into a series of shows that now exist online in the form of images and catalogues under the title The Indian Portrait. For his contributions to serigraphy, he was awarded a National Award for Excellence in Printing and Design in 1985, and as well as the Award for Excellence in Printing at the South Asia Print Congress, 1996.
At the time of writing, Relia continues to run Archer Art Gallery along with his son. He is also Honorary Director of the art gallery known as Amdavad ni Gufa, which was designed by Husain and Doshi.
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