Prateek and Priyanka Raja
Co-founders of the Experimenter gallery in 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 leading contemporary art galleries and has now expanded to two gallery spaces across Kolkata, owing to the city’s cross-cultural history, and a third space in Colaba, Mumbai, inspired by the plural and diverse identities represented by the city.
To facilitate dialogue around art curation, the Rajas began the annual Curators’ Hub in 2010 to encourage 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 — to this end, they are consistently engaged with the work of curators and artists, inviting those whose work aligns with the focus of the gallery.
In 2020, the Rajas also implemented several learning programmes through the online incubator and artistic platform Experimenter Labs, including salon-style classrooms, workshops and lectures. The couple supported art production during the COVID-19 pandemic by setting up Generator, a co-operative art production fund, and BlackBox, an online platform which provides a digital space for musicians, choreographers and artists to exhibit their works. They also expanded the gallery’s online platforms through initiatives such as Deep Dive, Filament, Radio 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.
Art Basel. “Meet the Power Couple Behind Kolkata’s Experimenter Gallery.” Accessed June 8, 2021. https://www.artbasel.com/stories/meet-the-gallerists-experimenter.
ArtReview. “Power 100: Most Influential People in 2020 in the Contemporary Art World,” 2020. https://artreview.com/artist/prateek-priyanka-raja/?year=2020.
Bailey, Stephanie. “Prateek and Priyanka Raja: Gallery as Incubator.” Ocula Magazine, September 15, 2020. https://ocula.com/magazine/conversations/prateek-and-priyanka-raja-experimenter/.
Das, Ranjabati. 2016. “For Priyanka and Prateek Raja Home is Where the Art is.” Verve, March 21, 2016. https://www.vervemagazine.in/people/priyanka-and-prateek-raja-experimenter-gallery-kolkata.
Thomson, Laura. “Prateek and Priyanka Raja.” Ocula Magazine, July 20, 2015. https://ocula.com/magazine/conversations/prateek-and-priyanka-raja/.