Founded in 1977 by Ebrahim and Roshen Alkazi, Art Heritage is a gallery that is committed to promoting established and young artists. Through its educational programming and collaborations, it seeks to sensitise its audience to a deeper comprehension of modern and contemporary art in a global context. Located in the famous art complex, Triveni Kala Sangam, the gallery has held over 600 exhibitions and produced over 450 catalogues celebrating the work of both distinguished artists such as F.N. Souza and M.F. Husain as well as new and emerging talent.
Launched at the India Art Fair 2016, the Gallery’s most recent publication, Ebrahim Alkazi: Directing Art, documents Art Heritage and Alkazi’s lifelong commitment to Indian modern and contemporary art.
It was Alkazi’s desire to educate the public in the experience of modern art that led to the gallery’s conception as a site for both exhibiting art and hosting illustrated talks and lectures by eminent scholars. Interested in viewing the art scene as a comprehensive movement, Alkazi invested in carefully curated group shows in which artists of the same generation or similar thematic concerns or styles might be viewed in conjunction to assess contemporary trends. Interspersed with the annual program were retrospectives for established artists from Adi Davierwala to Somnath Hore, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, and Satish Gujral, allowing for their oeuvres to be assessed in totality.
Exquisitely mounted, in keeping with Alkazi’s impeccable taste, exhibitions were supplemented by well-researched and amply illustrated essays in the Art Heritage journal/catalog. These writings by scholars, both experienced and young, had been especially commissioned by Alkazi to compile data on the art movement. It became increasingly clear to Alkazi as he mounted show after show, interviewed artists himself, and meticulously maintained material on them, that his role had expanded to becoming that of a collector and historian as well. Very soon in his career he had begun collecting contemporary art himself. As time went on, Alkazi realised his collection meant keeping seminal works together for posterity to study and assess. For him, such bodies of work constituted a national legacy and treasure.
Despite having his eye on artworks becoming part of contemporary history, Alkazi was both interested and instrumental in shaping the future as well. Known for his ability to spot and nurture new talent, Alkazi also mentored several new, young artists of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, often giving them their first solo shows. Many of them, like Arpita Singh, Nasreen Mohamedi, A. Ramachandran, Sudhir Partwardhan and Bharti Kher rose to become the leading artists of their generation.
The current Director, Amal Allana, has taken forward her parents’ ideas and moulded them into a comprehensive two-fold program. Seeing Art Heritage as a ‘Collector’s Gallery’ that promotes art of the highest quality, prices have been rationalised to make modern and contemporary art affordable to a wider circle of enthusiasts. Besides this, an interest in art history and art education, and a desire to encourage dialogue between the arts dictates the content of its shows.
Art Heritage continues to pay tribute to established artists and believes that their vision and maturity sustains the art movement in an age where the marketplace is a continual source of distraction in an artist’s journey towards creative expression. Side by side, the work of new, young artists is constantly showcased. In an attempt to close the intercultural/international divide, especially with neighbouring Arab and Southeast Asian countries, we also entertain international collaborations between artists and curators.
Despite the appellation ‘gallery’, over the years, Art Heritage has created an identity for itself that is in part private art gallery, part public museum, and part education centre. It is not only space for assessing art history, but also one that nurtures the creative output of future generations. It furthers discourse, while at the same time promoting cultural criticism required of a burgeoning democracy. A professional body, Art Heritage has declared its autonomy in its refusal to accept any sponsorship from either governmental or private sources. It does the work of an institution without using the title.