In times of increasing social distancing and pandemics, the art world is bringing people together. Within the safety of the virtual space, national and international museums and galleries are giving art aficionados a creative escape by the way of online exhibitions. Take, for instance, Art Alive Gallery in Delhi that has been working on putting together a show ever since the virus broke out. They understood early on that art shouldn’t and couldn’t be shut out. They’ve prepared a video of the gallery walkthrough and a digital catalogue of their ongoing show, ‘Night Forest’, by artist Chandra Bhattacharjee.
Through it, he traverses the forest; deep and dark drowning in the mystery. “Art has healing power and abundant positive energy. At a time like this, we need such engagements,” says Sunaina Anand, Director of the gallery, who has worked on putting the show together along with Ranjit Hoskote, the curatorial advisor. The sentiment is echoed by others in the fraternity such as the Founder-Director of Gallery Espace in Delhi, Renu Modi, who recently partook in a digital showcase extended by Art Basel Hong Kong that had to cancel its annual fair because of the fanning out of the coronavirus disease. Works of well-known artists Chitra Ganesh, GR Iranna, Manjunath Kamath, Nandini Bagla Chirimar, Puneet Kaushik, and Zarina reached thousands of people through its Online Viewing Room offered.
The display lasted from March 20-25. “Each gallery had a ‘room’ that could be visited. The artworks appeared before a virtual wall and viewers could zoom in to see the details,” says Modi. The limit on the number of artworks that could be displayed by each gallery was set to 10. This made the viewing intimate. “Collectors could use the filter feature to explore works from a particular region, value or medium,” says Roshini Vadehra, Director of Vadehra Art Gallery, who was also a participant. Back home, the National Museum, Delhi, presents a range of exhibitions as part of its online museum space. From archeology to decorative arts to jewellery, there’s a lot of choice. The zoom-in feature on the pictures lets you take a close look and each is accompanied by a write-up.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay has a digital collection pride-worthy. Ideal for these times of lockdown. Another custodian of heritage, the Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, offers several digital displays, including the current one with works by artist Abanindranath Tagore, the ‘father of modern Indian art.’ Given the extent of these resource, hibernating is made easier.
Around the world
❖ The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, offers 26 virtual displays
❖ MoMA, New York, gives you a choice of 84,000 art works
❖ Uffizi Gallery, Florence, extends 156 well-known works
❖ Museo Frida Kahlo, Mexico City, offers 70 points of interest related to Kahlo