'We keep on moving towards the light': India and UAE galleries collaborate for online exhibition

In a unique collaboration, 10 art galleries have worked together to launch a digital platform for their exhibitions

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Ten galleries from India and Dubai have come together to launch a website for online exhibitions. The digital platform, named In Touch, was developed amid the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic that has caused the closure of museums, galleries and cultural institutions around the world.

For the website, which launches on Friday, April 24 at 10.30am (GST), galleries have put together exhibitions of artists from their rosters, with some themed and others more eclectic.

Viewers and potential buyers can then make direct inquiries to each gallery, three of which are located in Dubai, while the rest are from different cities in India. The first iteration of In Touch will run until Friday, July 24, with artist talks scheduled to take place online.

'Untitled (Horizon Line)' by Aditi Singh. Courtesy Chemould Prescott Road and the artist 
'Untitled (Horizon Line)' by Aditi Singh. Courtesy Chemould Prescott Road and the artist 

This type of online collaboration is unfamiliar territory for many galleries, as most rely on building networks with collectors on their own or through art fairs. It could prove to be an effective step in alleviating the impact of the coronavirus on these businesses as closures in both countries – India has been in a nationwide lockdown since late March, while the UAE introduced its social-distancing measures last month – remain in place indefinitely.

“These are strange times that we have entered. Uncertain and restless. But we keep on moving towards the light, to nurture hope and to share creative thinking,” Grey Noise directors Hetal Pawani and Umer Butt said in a joint statement.

The Dubai gallery, known for its thought-provoking shows of conceptual art, presents the work of Pakistani artist Fahd Burki in the exhibition Stations. His minimalist works on paper are considered and contemplative, displaying the artist’s technical skills.

'Stations' by Fahd Burki. Courtesy Grey Noise, Dubai and the artist 
'Stations' by Fahd Burki. Courtesy Grey Noise, Dubai and the artist 

Another Dubai gallery, The Third Line, has included the works of Nima Nabavi and Rana Begum on the platform. Nabavi’s repeating geometric shapes are a nod to traditional Iranian art and produce a meditative effect on the viewer. “This initiative is not only important because it expands our collective reach within the South Asian region, but also because it allows us to further explore the possibilities of online avenues for reaching new collectors," gallerist Sunny Rahbar said.

For its section, Green Art Gallery showcases Lebanese artist Chaouki Choukini’s wooden sculptures, as well as new works by Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram and Hera Buyuktasciyan from Turkey. Meanwhile, Chemould Prescott Road from Mumbai presents two new works made by artists during lockdown in India: a circular painting mapping the cosmos by Desmond Lazaro and a series of fluid abstract works by Aditi Singh.

Kolkata’s Experimenter shows Prabhakar Pachpute’s unusual human/animal hybrid figures that reflect on conditions for farmers and mining workers, while Gallery Escape from New Delhi has included a bold and bright painting by Chitra Ganesh that bears her characteristic themes of feminist mythology with futurist overtones.

Reflecting on quietude, New Delhi's PHOTOINK presents a dreamlike print by Dhruv Malhotra and a monochrome by Madan Mahatta. Nature Morte's exhibition, titled To Balm and Cajole, includes artists such as Bharti Kher, Dayanita Singh, Raqs Media Collective and Tanya Goel. Kher's The Distance of Separate Things 8 is a collage of overlapping maps and features the motif of the bindi, a decorative mark worn on the forehead and found in South Asian culture, which represents ideas of religious identity, womanhood and beauty.

Vadehra Art Gallery’s exhibition No Man Is An Island looks at interconnectedness, with works by Juul Kraijer, Arpita Singh and Ranbir Kaleka.

GALLERYSKE, which has locations in New Delhi and Bangalore, is showing new work by Sunil Padwal titled Things exactly as they are, a series of delicate drawings using isograph pen on paper. The title of the exhibition, What Kind of Times Are These, is inspired by a ruminative poem by Adrienne Rich that asks us to listen and reflect on the world we live in.

In a statement, gallery director Sunitha Kumar Emmar voiced her appreciation for the collaboration during a “daunting and unsettling time”, adding “to look at art, have conversations with artists and put this presentation together has been the high point of the last few days. Thank you all who still, look, listen and engage.”

The first iteration of In Touch runs until Friday, July 24. Details are available at artintouch.in