New York. Paris. Berlin. London. Barcelona. Florence. Mumbai?
Yes, Mumbai. India’s largest city has emerged in recent years as a leading center for art.“While more galleries have steadily been opening in recent years, it’s reached a fever pitch — with bigger spaces and more prominent names hitting the scene, and greater support from locals and travelers than ever before,” says Travel & Leisure magazine.
Located in the city’s arts and heritage district of Colaba, surrounded by art deco buildings (Mumbai has the second largest number of art deco buildings in the world, after Miami) sits TARQ. Founded in 2014, it’s already made a name for itself.
“Dedicated to nurturing a conversation around art across a diverse range of contexts, be it wilderness sustainability or urban development, TARQ is the youngest gallery in Mumbai and yet one of the most promising,” says the Asian travel and culture guide City Nomads.
Fermata spoke with TARQ founder, owner, and director Hena Kapadia about the impact the novel coronavirus is having on the Mumbai art scene and on Tarq.
Fermata: What does TARQ mean and how did you choose the name?
Kapadia: The name, TARQ, is the Sanskrit word for “discussion, abstract reasoning, logic, and cause.” The gallery came about as a means to build conversation around emerging contemporary artists and be a bridge between the artist and the collectors. It was built with the intention of creating a meaningful conversation around art and its myriad connotations and contexts. It was envisioned as something of an incubator for young contemporary artists working towards pushing the boundaries of how contemporary art in India is exhibited and perceived.
Fermata: How has the lockdown in Mumbai and the coronavirus in general affected your work?
Kapadia: The gallery was in the midst of undergoing minor renovations in the month of March, when we went into lockdown. In terms of affecting our work, it has merely delayed the renovation process, as my team continues to work from home. We have also had to postpone our group show, slated for May, as there is some uncertainty on the ability to bring works and artists to the gallery in time.
Fermata: How do you think the Mumbai art scene will change, post the virus?
Kapadia: It is a very strange and unprecedented situation we find ourselves in, one that has [changed] and will change us in many ways in the aftermath. However, I hope that in the weeks and months that follow that we will come back stronger than ever. I believe the Mumbai art scene will play an integral role in helping people heal, continue to be resilient, united, and evolving through engagement, expression, compassion, and conversation to build better days.
Fermata: Do you think local artists will have suffered due to the lockdown or do you expect more opportunities to host exhibitions after the virus?
Kapadia: I think one of the ways local artists might be suffering due to the lockdown is being physically away from their studios, if the studio is outside their homes. In terms of creating, one can only hope that it has not affected artists terribly. Most galleries have promptly taken to having a virtual existence and continue to showcase the unique works of their artists and this break from being in public spaces will hopefully encourage more opportunities to host exhibitions once things stabilize.
Fermata: When do you plan to re-open TARQ if such plans are in place and has the lockdown impacted your staff at the gallery?
Kapadia: Honestly, with no clear end date to the nationwide lockdown as yet, it all depends on the weeks ahead of us and how the country is taking precautions to contain the virus. Once it is safe for us to venture out of our homes and travel to work, the gallery will resume the completion of our renovation projects and open to the public thereafter. The lockdown has not severely impacted my staff in any way. We are all, thankfully, safe and sound in our homes. We continue to work remotely on upcoming shows with our artists, and sales to our clients. The long break has allowed us to catch up on long-overdue administrative work and brainstorm better programming for you when we reopen. We are also working on an online exhibition in the coming weeks.
This article is part of the Fermata: Arts and Culture in the Time of Coronavirus series reported by students in the Critical Writing course at the Newhouse School. Fermata features stories on the impact of the pandemic on a wide range of artists and cultural figures, from musicians and comedians to restaurateurs and boutique owners.