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, in the Kala Ghoda arts district. Originally called Gallery Chemould and located on the first floor of Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, the gallery was renamed and moved to its new premises on G Talwatkar Marg (formerly Prescott Road) in 2007. 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. Emerging at the same time as democracy and republicanism in India, Chemould Prescott Road is known for supporting political and cultural freedom among India’s artists.
In 1941, Kekoo Gandhy established Chemould Frames — a framing business where he would often frame paintings made by young artists in the city. It was during this time that the Austrian artist Walter Langhammer introduced Gandhy to the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG), most notably Raza, Husain, FN Souza, KH Ara, HA Gade and SK Bakre. By the time India achieved Independence in 1947, the prevailing discourse towards an ‘Indian’ art had moved 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.
Subsequently, 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, the Modernist painter Tyeb Mehta held his first exhibition in the gallery, which went on to serve as the space for the first exhibitions of other upcoming artists such as Nasreen Mohamedi, Pilloo Pochkhanawala and Jivya Soma Mashe. The Gandhys were also deeply political — sheltering anti-State artists during the Emergency in 1975–77 and supporting artists in the aftermath of 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 remained steadfast in its commitment to exhibiting new, mid-career and senior artists who engage with sociopolitical, urban and ecological issues through their work. As one of the most significant venues of experimental art in India, the gallery also represents artists engaged with materiality, texture, elements of nature and traditional and folk Indian art forms. After surviving the 2008 financial crisis, Chemould Prescott Road and eight other galleries that survived the shock — including Chatterjee & Lal and Project 88 — became a part of the Mumbai Arts District in Kala Ghoda. In 2013, the gallery held five successive exhibitions curated by the art historian and critic Geeta Kapur to mark fifty years since its inception. Titled Aesthetic Bind, these exhibitions explored the historic role played by Chemould Prescott Road in encouraging conversations among contemporary artists and nurturing Indian art in the twentieth century. Currently in its sixth decade, in 2022, the gallery opened a new space in Mumbai, called Chemould CoLab, to showcase the work of young artists and host a summer residency program.
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Art Basel. “Chemould Prescott Road.” Accessed September 11, 2020. https://www.artbasel.com/catalog/gallery/1088/Chemould-Prescott-Road.
Bhatia, Sidharth. “The Accidental Gallerist and the Making of Indian Modern Art.” The Wire, July 8, 2020. https://thewire.in/the-arts/kekoo-gandhy-art-gallery-bombay.
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/.
Kini-Singh, Amita. “50 Years of Contemporary Art with Chemould Prescott Road – Gallery Director Interview.” Art Radar, 2018. https://artradarjournal.com/2018/07/04/50-years-of-contemporary-art-with-chemould-prescott-road-gallery-director-interview/.
Mehra, Pallavi. “Chemould Prescott Road.” Architectural Digest, September 27, 2019. https://www.architecturaldigest.in/content/chemould-prescott-road/.
Seervai, Shanoor. “As It Turns 50, Gallery Chemould Celebrates Its Legendary Past.” The Caravan, January 1, 2014.
Sen, Debarati S. “Chemould Celebrates Fifty Years.” The Times of India, August 17, 2013. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/spotlight/Chemould-celebrates-fifty-years/articleshow/21877272.cms.