Vida Heydari: Contemporary art’s new address in the city drawing in top talent

Ketaki Latkar-Mahajan, Hindustan Times, December 28, 2020

The show displays the works of five of India’s contemporary artists - Benitha Perciyal, Manish Nai, Sudarshan Shetty, Sumedh Rajendran and Tanya Goel 

When you enter Koregaon Park’s recently launched contemporary art space, Vida Heydari Contemporary (VHC), you are transported to a sprawling 3,000 sq ft venue marked by green environs, warm lights and high ceilings. Vida Heydari, the founder of VHC is an Iranian-Canadian curator and gallerist who has worked with Indian, Iranian and Chinese contemporary artists, private collectors and international galleries for about a decade-and-a-half.

Last week, her concept art gallery VHC opened doors to city’s art enthusiasts with the inaugural show, Origins of a Perennial Bouquet. The show, which will continue till February 14, has been curated by Bose Krishnamachari, founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Krishnamachari is an artist known for his bold abstract paintings, multimedia installations and figurative drawings.

The show displays the works of five of India’s contemporary artists - Benitha Perciyal, Manish Nai, Sudarshan Shetty, Sumedh Rajendran and Tanya Goel. Heydari, while elaborating on the connection between Pune and the role VHC will play in its cultural fabric, says, “My time in the city has shown me that there’s an abundance of artists and art lovers. I want VHC to be a space for creative minds of the city to come together, get inspired and facilitate dialogue in the realm of art.”

Upon entering, guests experience an effect that is grand yet simple, with subdued colours used on the walls, and greenery all around. The gallery has many alcoves and spaces for art displays. The space uses the natural curvature of frontage and beams to its advantage, and the matte grey flooring works as a dramatic setting for the artworks. Speaking about the debut art show, Krishnamachari says, “It is important to understand that in the field of art, there should be consistency in terms of knowledge sharing. That is why the title of the exhibition highlights the idea of being perennial. Another remarkable feature of VHC is that it does not display art in isolation; it offers a great fusion with a restaurant, green spaces, and scope for conversations.”

VHC also has an attached restaurant, which serves European fare, and the menu for which has been curated by chef Ajay Chopra.

Artwork 1:

The artwork ‘The mysterious visitor’ has been created by Benitha Perciyal, who hails from Thiruvanamalai. Her practice encapsulates the use of primarily organic materials, with a strong focus on those that induce olfactory experiences like myrrh, cinnamon, frankincense and more. Her sculptures are solely made of organic compounds that slow down the process of creation, while enabling a certain perpetuity to their ‘becoming’.

Artwork 2:

Tanya Goel, who has completed her post-graduation in fine arts from Yale University, is the driving force behind this piece of art, titled ‘Tracing modernity in dust and light.’ The artwork has been created using cement mixed with debris collected from the central public works department, New Delhi. With a focus on textured pigments, Goel utilises a diverse array of materials from urban climes (aluminium, concrete, glass, soil, mica, graphite and foils) in order to accentuate the equally versatile effect of light on them.

Artwork 3:

Mumbai’s Sudarshan Shetty has reused teak wood to create this artwork ‘For all that we gather’. Shetty was initially trained as a painter, but his exposure to the work of his contemporaries at the National School of Design helped him explore the intersections of sculpture, design and architecture. His installations are developed around a rigorous selection of materials and juxtapositions of things that are culturally distinct. The artist turned curator for the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2016.

Artwork 4:

Manish Nai’s untitled artwork uses a flyscreen, water colour and wood. Nai has always been fascinated with minimalism. Materials, such as jute and newspapers, are reborn in his work, and he transforms functionality into art.

Sumedh Rajendran’s ‘sky stalkers’ makes use of charcoal on paper. With the usage of industrialised materials like ceramic tiles, leather, tin sheets, cans, rubber, cement, concrete, and steel, Rajendran dissolves notions of boundaries between entities. His work is known for providing a fresh perspective to sculpture and for re-contextualising its relevance to the world of contemporary Indian art.

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