Delhi Art Gallery - A Profile
In the under two decades since it was established, the Delhi Art Gallery has become distinguished for its focus on 20th century Indian art. Its museum-like collections range from the early-moderns to the moderns, including all the masters and senior artists of the movement all the way to more recent contemporary art.
The DAG collection, therefore, is an important historical as well as chronological time-line of the entire movement of modern art in the country. As one of the largest such repositories of Indian modern art anywhere in the world, it is one of the most critical links for anyone with an interest in Indian art – whether art-lovers, collectors, academicians, scholars, researchers or investors. At its very inception, the DAG motto was to establish the great art treasures of 20th century India, from its remotest parts to those in its better established art and culture hubs. This meant re-discovering the great artists of the century, many with proven track records who had been allowed to lapse into anonymity. It meant extensive travels across the country, to re-familiarise with artists from all regions and centres, to understand their creative genius and pay homage to the extensive oeuvres that flourished through one of the country’s most creatively diverse period.
Entire collections were traced, compiled, restored, archived and made available for posterity. As a result, the extensive inventory is recognised for its quality of artworks. Documentation processes across various genres have resulted in some iconic exhibitions, known for their breadth of scale and depth of research. Extensive exhibition catalogues and books – part of its ongoing efforts on shedding new light on, of course, the well-established artists and their genres, but also on the lesser-known but equally talented painters and sculptors – is a measure of the seriousness of DAG’s effort of concentrating not just on the names of Indian artists familiar to all art-lovers, but also those artists who deserve their space on the same firmament.With over four hundred artists in its collection, the Delhi Art Gallery is committed to bringing together the most seminal works of artists from Bengal’s golden period of nationalist art, to the Progressives, all of whom are represented at DAG, to their associates, the important and diverse schools and groups spread throughout India, to artists of more recent vintage with their own, established track records.
Delhi Art Gallery, unlike most others, owns its entire, exhaustive collection. It is, simply, the most important institution for 20th century Indian art not just in India but around the world. The Delhi Art Gallery was started by Rama Anand in 1993. Ashish Anand, director, DAG, took over the gallery from his mother in 1996 to give it its current shape, volume and credibility.
Ashish Anand, a young entrepreneur and director of the Delhi Art Gallery (DAG), has one of the finest collections of 20th century Modern and Contemporary Indian art. With an eye for excellence, he strategized an alternate plan to enhance the receptivity of modern Indian art both nationally and internationally, making it more inclusive, diverse and bringing merit to several significant artists. Refusing to play safe, Anand pioneered the strategy of focusing on the relatively lesser-known artistic talents of the country that awaited proper exposure and visibility.
Under his leadership, DAG spans a spectacular collection which is a visual feast with artworks from all decades of the 20th century- artists from the pre-independence era such as Raja Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Binode Behari Mukherjee, Chittaprosad, Gopal Ghose to precursors of the post-independent decades, namely M.F.Husain, S.H.Raza, F.N.Souza, Satish Gujral or then the later generation comprising works of Himmat Shah, Ambadas, Gogi Saroj Pal, Sunil Das, Jyoti Bhatt, Amitava Das and several brilliant names.
Over the years, Anand’s vision for the gallery has gone beyond its conventional role. His handsome collection of art has in due course triggered the need for a deeper understanding of the context and circumstances in which various genres of art were created. This became a full-fledged pursuit that culminated into the DAG Documentation, Research & Archiving cell, an extension of the art gallery with an integrated team of dedicated art historians and curators. DAG works hard to enrich its archive by documenting every textual and visual material on art and artists and facilitates students, art critics and writers with an extensive information–database.
Setting up new professional standards in art dealing as well as in showcasing Indian art globally, Ashish Anand is driven with positive energy and committed to well-documented high quality production of art books/ catalogues and meaningful exhibitions that expand the horizon of mainstream Indian Art.