Fashion designer Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna’s Palette Art Gallery, which has turned 20, is hosting its “first chapter” with sculptures — 18 Dimensions — at Bikaner House, New Delhi, on till December 6. t2 caught up with Rahul to know more about their journey with art.
Congratulations on your 20-year-old journey as gallery directors! How has it been?
We have never come to the forefront but now we started curating shows personally since we have the experience of 20 years. So, Rohit and I have been adamant art collectors from the beginning. We would just go and buy art with whatever money we made. We went to the artists’ studios. We were inspired by the modern contemporary art scene in India and our work is also abstract, modern, geometric. We were inspired by the art movement, (Jackson) Pollock, the Andy Warhol pop-art... so that was our growing-up years. Art became such a big passion that we opened a gallery. We were collecting artwork from everywhere in India and the birth of the Palette Art Gallery happened.
We did our first fashion show inspired by art. We were inspired by Indian and international artists and we did a work inspired by each artist and we did an exhibition in Triveni (Kala Sangam, New Delhi) 20 years back. After that we opened the gallery and there has been no looking back.
Are your tastes different?
Can I tell you ‘no’... our tastes are so similar that it is shocking sometimes. We receive a catalogue and we both want to go and pick up the same art and it’s so scary... we end up wearing the same clothes! (Laughs) Except for the fact that our bodies are different, our likings are the same.
How has the taste changed over the years?
We started with a minimalistic kind of art. The personal take was very Zen. We started with Nasreen Mohamedi, K. Balasubramanian and Rameshwar Broota. And, now we are getting into sculptures. This is our first chapter at Palette Art Gallery with sculptures. We had to give our due respect to the sculpture artists of India because I think there is less focus on them and I thought India has a huge heritage when you talk about art. We only know about the old statues, sculptures and miniatures. This is our take on modern contemporary art in 2021 and how the scene is changing in India and how there is a story behind each work.
Tell us about curating 18 Dimensions...
We have added names from established and international modern art. We have Mrinalini Mukherjee who is the star of the show, Subodh Gupta, Tallur (L.N.), Sudarshan Shetty, Narayan Biswas, Rajesh Ram, Ashiesh Shah. There is a mix of great artists and we have Bikaner House (New Delhi) which is a great space. We could not do it at the gallery. It needs to be viewed by many people and we opened it for all on Monday and the show stays here till December 6.
Over the years, how has the love for art influenced your designs in fashion?
Art has been the central focus of our work in fashion. We are inspired by metal and metallic textures. Over here you will see a lot of gold and silver.
Do either of you paint or sculpt?
We don’t but we are getting into interiors. In the last two years we have started a new thing. We are doing art consultation for hotels. So, we are curating spaces for art. At the moment, we have signed up with the Hilton, Bangalore and Holiday Inn.
What are your dreams for the Palette Art Gallery?
I would like Palette to travel. We have already shown Palette at the Art Miami, Art Basel and next year we are taking it to Frieze London and we will soon open a space in Mumbai.
Showcasing: I’m showcasing one of my artworks, a small sculpture made out of utensils. It’s a material I have worked with for many years now, and this is one of my recent works. Art at this point means to me: Art has always been a life force for me, this is how I breathe and live — I make art.
Current favourite artist: There are so many current favourite artists whose work I am drawn to. Whether young or old, there is so much great form to see around that it’s very difficult for me to take one name but yes why not. Right now, I will say Bharti Kher. She is doing fantastic work and she is my favourite artist.
Showcasing: Lion skull and coin artwork are based on ‘Ideologies and Cultural conflict’ in our nation.
Art at this point means to me: I perceive art as a form of freedom of expression and choices of medium. I draw solo political, economical, environmental and religious concerns through the variety of medium. Human beings are the centre point of my creations. Also human behaviour is the base subject of my artwork because human behaviour is the reflection of the culture.
Current favourite artist: I like few artworks such as Western Flag by John Gerrard, Francis Alys, +and — by Mona Hatoum and artwork by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Can’t Help Myself.
Everything for SAIL — Behold! he comes again by Riyas Komu
Showcasing: I am showing an installation symbolically parallel to our present, sailing from the past carrying eventful memories of adventures selling ideas by building new ‘colonies’.
Art at this point means to me: Art has always been a site for me to contemplate, think and produce new discourses.
Current favourite artist: Sumedh Rajendran.
Showcasing: For this particular show I have worked with clay in the process of ceramic. I have tried to touch on the history, its evidence and its clarity towards the true story. I have tried to showcase the story behind the journey of time and its events.
Vigor by Rajesh Ram
Art at this point means to me: For me art is a process of thought and to make a world of true knowledge, where people can find themselves and can understand their identity.
Current favourite artist: There is no particular favourite artist for me. Because I have learnt from different category artists, from famous contemporary artists as well as a folk artist from my village.
Longpi Totem, New Moon Totem
Showcasing: We look forward to showcasing the New Moon Totem and Longpi Totem.
Art at this point means to me: Art, to me, evokes a strong sense of connection, one that goes beyond aesthetics and trends. I have always gravitated towards pieces that are closely knit with my personal ethos.
Current favourite artist: Olafur Eliasson.