Over centuries and across the world, art has been a commentary on the world around us. It most definitely impacts upon the public – says Aparajita Jain, a young collector, gallerist and philanthropist from India during conversation with artbahrain contributing editor Vikash Nand Kumar.

Congratulations for such a dynamic role you are playing in the field of Contemporary art of India. You run two art galleries – Nature Morte and Seven Art Gallery, an art foundation – Saat Saath Arts and also play a role of an art collector. Please share how the journey started?

I started Seven Art about 8 years ago, and joined Nature Morte about 4 years ago. The journey has been nothing short of amazing. I started with an idea to amalgamate different verticals that existed in India so as to help share expertise for better quality and production, which in turn made me fall in love with art. That’s how it all began. Saat Saath was born out of need, the ‘gaps’ I saw in the country’s systems for supporting artists and the areas which needed desperate attention within the arts. From then on, the journey has been an organic and fun-filled one.

Please share the principal objectives of the not for profit initiative Saat Saath Arts.

There is very high quality work being produced in India and with a legacy that surpasses 5,000 years: we really have a lot to contribute in the world of culture. Sadly, much of it is going undocumented and not being adequately researched. Throughout years of experience dealing with museums and curators, I have repeatedly heard how there isn’t enough information available, which led Diana Campbell Betancourt and I to discuss how critical research trips were. Saat Saath Arts Foundation now funds research trips as well as helping visiting curators and museum directors to navigate the cities and to plan effective research trips.

You have recently expanded the horizon of Saat Saath Arts. What are the recent activities done under this banner?

We recently helped fund Jitish Kallat’s show at the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai, and soon we will be supporting and funding writing projects. We will be announcing more soon.

Please share the glimpse of the upcoming activities of the foundation.

As part of our research trip programme Brett Littman from the Drawing Centre, NY will be coming to India in December, followed by two curators from the New Museum. We will launch our writing project around March next year, and are working with two other Corporate Social Responsibility projects, which we will also announce shortly.

Does this organization offer grants/ fellowship to the art practitioners of foreign origin only or is there any scope for the native practitioners?

The very basis of our projects is to foster research into India by foreign countries and hence sadly we are not currently funding natives. But hopefully as we grow, we will include people from within India as well.

As a young art collector and gallerist would you like to comment upon the state and trends in Indian contemporary art in the last decade?

I think collectors in India have become more informed and more daring. They are eager to engage with art; they come to galleries and are more open to conversation. On the other hand, the scene is still not as large as it could be.

I appreciate that the foundation is providing opportunities for foreign art practitioners but do you feel that it might be more dynamic if the artists from this region also get some support, as the nation has limited funding opportunities for this domain?

Yes, there is a real lack of support in the country, but my funding is also finite. If we don’t focus, we won’t be able to build anything of value. As a gallery we already support and promote artists. We have to focus on other aspects of the art scene too.

You are very active in the art scene of the country running different institutions. Do you feel that we have sufficient platforms for the promotion of art and culture or should we create more?

I really think we need many, many more platforms. But this is slowly advancing.

If we require more such initiatives who do you feel should come forward to create these platforms?

I think it will be a mixture of corporations and government that will help spur on this into action.

Are the government funded or supported art institutions in India accomplishing their part in the promotion of contemporary art or is there need and scope for value addition?

I think places like the National Museum and the National Gallery of Modern Art are doing a great job, but everything can always be improved upon and hence, we need to keep moving ahead.

Art should be more accessible to the general public and it should reach to the masses. Do you think that art changes/develops the gaze of public? Any specific project/event you would like to talk about.

Over centuries and across the world, art has been a commentary on the world around us. It most definitely impacts upon the public. We did a project on tigers called Artiger which raised awareness on the loss of habitat for the tigers and sensitised people to the issue. A lot of different people came together to support the cause and momentum developed for it. We are currently working on a project with a hospital to help alleviate stress levels via art in hospitals and should shortly be able to share the results with you.