Prateek and Priyanka Raja
Co-founders of the Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata, Prateek Raja and Priyanka Raja grew up in Kolkata and established the gallery in 2009 with the aim of promoting alternative contemporary art in India and South Asia. Priyanka and Prateek quit their corporate-sector jobs to establish the gallery; Priyanka was a media brand strategist in sales for Procter & Gamble, India, whereas Prateek worked at Tata Group before transitioning to work with his family business of handloom textiles.
Experimenter grew out of Prateek’s vision to create a space for contemporary art and discourse around curatorial issues, exhibition-making and artworks. Throughout 2008, the couple interviewed prospective artists and clients to plan for the opening, with Prateek focusing on the research and development while Priyanka was responsible for resource management and public relations. Since opening in 2009, Experimenter has established itself as one of India’s principal contemporary art galleries and has now expanded to two gallery spaces across Kolkata — a location the Rajas chose primarily owing to the city’s cross-cultural history.
To facilitate dialogue around art curation, the Rajas began the annual Curators’ Hub in 2011, enabling like-minded individuals to converge and discuss the possibilities and issues in curatorial practices. Before each Hub, Prateek sends a ‘provocation’ email, in which participating curators are provided a prompt to discuss at the Hub. The couple is also central to the decision-making process of the guest list for the Hubs; they consistently engage with the work of curators and artists, inviting those whose work align with the focus of the gallery.
The Rajas have also implemented several learning programmes at Experimenter, including salon-style classrooms, workshops and lectures. The couple upheld art production during the COVID-19 pandemic by setting up Generator, an open call co-operative art fund, and BlackBox, which provides a digital space for musicians, choreographers and artists to exhibit their works. They also expanded the gallery’s online platforms through Filament and Experimenter Labs Reader, which offer films, talks, playlists and written work by artists.
As of writing, the couple lives in Kolkata with their two sons.
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