Life | Finding Your Artist

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Finding Your Artist
Published: Volume 21, Issue 10, October, 2013

Gallerist Nicholai Sachdev on what makes an artist special enough to be showcased at a gallery and the criteria for selection from the burgeoning variety of art in the country

Walk into Gallery 7 for a peek at works by veteran artist Prabhakar Kolte, known for his abstract pieces. While you may enjoy admiring his intangible strokes on canvases today, the gallery’s show in the following month may be on completely different lines. Be it contemporary or traditional, paintings or installations and photography, the space doesn’t have a fixed style quotient. It isn’t particularly fussed about the genre of art as long as the illustrator possesses strong aesthetic sensibilities. As gallerist Arunov Nicholai Sachdev puts it, “The whole concept and the vision for the gallery has always been the showcasing of really talented artists. We have always ferretted them out when they are very young – a vision of the artist and followed through. So today, we deal with about 200 artists all the way from students right out of college, to a much older generation with a passion. I don’t think age is really a parameter. You can spot their growing aptitude for art from an early stage, and then you follow their works and see how it evolves over the years.”

In spite of being inundated with portfolios, as any gallery would be, their screening process is anything but conventional. Nicholai believes that if the art doesn’t invoke a reaction from him in the first 30 seconds, maybe it isn’t something he would want to dress his walls in. Yet again, this doesn’t necessarily mean he has written it off. “I will tell you where you can find those artists and their works but I will not touch them. Mainly because I don’t have the emotional backing and my conscience will not allow me to transact with their works.” He doesn’t need to fall in love with the works, but he should be able to feel them or recognise their ability to grow on him later. Conversely, this isn’t a method his mum, Chandra Doshi Sachdev, an artist herself, and founder of Gallery 7 adopts. After viewing thousands of canvases in a variety of styles, picking good art from those lacking that edge comes naturally to her without a seconds pondering. Luckily for them, they both share similar tastes.

Yet, it’s not easy to come across real talent as often. At times artists lean towards emulating works of those who have arrived within this circuit. Few in waiting tend to put their own styles on the backburner if only for a short while. “I don’t think that’s honest work. An artist should have integrity regarding his work. It’s got to be artist – work – me,” Nicholai outlines a triangle on his desk, “that is if at all I want to take on the artist; but if I don’t have a connection, where’s my binding factor?”

The aficionado of fine arts has grown up interacting with this medium of culture, and drawing inspiration from India’s mordern artists – MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta, SH Raza... Watching them and hearing stories of their early struggles that transgressed into peaking fame, and eventually eternal fame, he doesn’t believe that marketing one’s art is the job of an artist. That’s when galleries come into play. The focus of an artist shouldn’t stray from creating imaginative pieces with resilient dedication. He adds to this, “If you really want to get into retailing art then it has to have sensitivity, and genuine artistic aesthetic sensibility, and without that a gallery will not pick you up, and I think that’s the way a gallery should be.”

The young curator who bought his first piece of art at the age of 16 also believes that choosing art is subjective. What could appeal to one person’s sensitivities could revolt another. So if someone has just only discovered an interest in this subject or wishes to adorn his or her home with something striking, Nicholai suggests visiting as many galleries as possible. “We prefer if you started with us!” he jokes. “Once you figure out what you like and what you don’t like, I think a gallerist needs to come into play just to give you a bit of confidence. He is like a doctor – tell him why you reacted the way you did. He might be the expert but it’s still your choice whether you think it’s good or bad. Then read plenty about your chosen artists. Visula realisation is far more relevant than theoretical knowledge,but they do go hand-in-hand, and that’s where the doors open!”


Rohan Chandrachur
He emulates his city’s landscapes in an impasto style with strong, thick oil paint. The strokes easily drag the viewer into Rohan’s imaginations. Dainty feminine shapes, radical landscapes and inanimate objects are painted with a naive fury – those who got amicably entangled in his memories.

Pradeep Nerurkar
The creator of our universe’s formations that we see around us every day – what we know as ‘nature,’ stand as inspirations for this artist. And to meticulously imitate these, cotton matt is Pradeep’s best comrade. Its layers, strong absorbing quality and easy moulding adaptability are what make it special.

Sharanu Alloli
Outer body experiences and inner journey of the soul – both are key elements of Sharanu’s works. His surroundings are absent in his works – most of which are almost always an empty space. This and the figures on his canvases come together in simple strong strokes.

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