Chemould Prescott Road
Founded in 1963 by gallerists and art collectors Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, Chemould Prescott Road is an art gallery in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Originally called the Gallery Chemould and located on the first floor of the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, the establishment moved to its new premises on G Talwatkar Marg (formerly Prescott Road) in 2007 and was renamed. As one of the oldest galleries in India, it has played a major role in the development of modern Indian art, most notably in dealing with and showing the artworks of SH Raza, MF Husain, KK Hebbar, Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani and Vivan Sundaram, among others.
Chemould Prescott Road was preceded by Chemould Frames, a framing business founded by Kekoo Gandhy on Princess Street in 1941, where he would often frame paintings made by young artists in the city. The Austrian artist Walter Langhammer introduced Gandhy to the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG), notably Raza, Souza, Husain, KH Ara, HA Gade and SK Bakre. By the time India achieved Independence in 1947, the prevailing discourse towards an ‘Indian’ art was moving away from existing traditions of art production to establish a middle ground between traditional Indian art and contemporary art movements in the West. The Gandhys were vocal advocates for modern Indian art, and consequently, the storefront of Chemould Frames evolved as a gallery space for the work of emerging Indian artists such as Hebbar and Husain.
In 1963, Gallery Chemould was inaugurated and held its first exhibition, which included artworks from Ram Kumar, Satish Gujral, Krishen Khanna and NS Bendre. In 1964, Tyeb Mehta held his first exhibition in the gallery, which went on to serve as the space for the first exhibitions of other artists such as Nasreen Mohamedi, Pilloo Pochkhanawala and Jivya Soma Mashe. Broadly, creating a secular and democratic ethos was a personal cause for both the Gandhys, who had sheltered anti-State activists during the Indian Emergency in 1975–77 and tried to muster support for artists during the communal riots in Mumbai in 1992–93.
In 1988, they handed over the administration of the gallery to their daughter Shireen Gandhy, under whom the gallery has expanded to showcase experimental and interdisciplinary work by artists including Atul and Anju Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Nilima Sheikh, Lavanya Mani and Shilpa Gupta. The gallery has maintained a commitment to exhibiting artists who engage with socio-political, urban and ecological issues through their work while being informed of the material and texture of their discipline and being familiar with existing artistic traditions in India, including miniature painting.
The 2008 financial crisis was a challenging time for art galleries across India, and Chemould Prescott Road was one of few in Mumbai — including Chatterjee & Lal and Project 88 — that survived the shock. Since then, together with eight others in the area, the gallery has become a part of the Mumbai Arts District (MAD) in Kala Ghoda. In honour of Chemould Prescott Road celebrating fifty years of its establishment in 2013, five successive exhibitions were curated by art historian and critic Geeta Kapur. Titled Aesthetic Bind, these exhibitions explored the role of the gallery as a space to prompt conversations among contemporary artists, underlining its historic role in nurturing Indian art in the twentieth century.
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Chemould Prescott Road. “Artists.” Accessed September 11, 2020. https://www.gallerychemould.com/artists/.
Kapur, Geeta. “Aesthetic Bind: Floating World | Group Show | 19 March – 17 April 2014 – Overview.” Chemould Prescott Road, 2014. https://www.gallerychemould.com/exhibitions/37-aesthetic-bind-floating-world-group-show/overview/.
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Sen, Debarati S. “Chemould Celebrates Fifty Years.” Times of India, 2013. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/spotlight/Chemould-celebrates-fifty-years/articleshow/21877272.cms.