Sculpting the way for art amidst a pandemic

Geeta Singh

Geeta Singh is an art curator who sees opportunity during adversity—has opened new galleries during the pandemic

“Keep going” is the advice of Roy T Bennett, the famous author of The Light in the Heart, “Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.” 

Art curator and collector Geeta Singh is an example, she founded Art Pilgrim–work from old masters, contemporary artists and young upcoming artists through solo and group exhibitions. Art is not just a vocation to her, but a passion. She’s fond of art and a collector–especially of sculptures.

When the chips were down in the art world due to the prolonged consequences of the pandemic, she visualised the new projects and collaborations, even opened a new art gallery in Triveni Kala Sangam.  in addition to the one in Gurugram. And that was made possible because many in the art world were quitting spaces and lying low waiting for the tides of time to change for the better. 

Geeta is a strong woman, who lives alone in her farmhouse, her husband died ten years ago, her son is settled in the US, and her daughter runs ArtPilgrim Live, an art portal that encourages young artists to make their mark. She lives not far from Geeta in Gurugram with her husband and two children.

Geeta has been a player in Delhi’s art scene, for now, a quarter of a century. She founded an art gallery in Hauz Khas Village before it had become a craze with Delhi’s glitterati. She was one of the first few who played a key role giving Hauz Khas the character it acquired over the years from being a discreet Laal Dora–urban village around the lake. 

Sculpture by Dhananjay Singh

The initial three months of the pandemic were difficult, life as we knew had come to a grinding halt, fear of the looming uncertainty was all pervasive, and art galleries were closing. Geeta came to know that some gallery spaces would be available. She decided “to take another space.” Driven by her instincts, despite the warnings against opening a new gallery during the pandemic, as many of her friends feared would not be an economically viable preposition. “I felt that this would be a good move—the gut instinct feeling,” she says and went for it, and now is working hard to make her conviction come true. Unlikely things do happen if you make them happen.

The pandemic phase gave her the opportunity to make necessary transitions, she loves coming back to Delhi, now on a daily basis. “I love it here in Delhi,” she says. 

She has been active in the organising of the Indian Art Fair–the much sought after annual art event of the capital. A whole section last year was devoted to the collection of her artistes.  The sculptures of Dhananjay Singh was a big hit whose work alternates between zoological and botanical forms as he realises “both have a presence of me. I’m present in nature and nature is present in me.”  

This week, she is hosting two leading Indian artists as part of The Nature’s Story: gifted watercolourist Bikash Poddars and white oil on canvas by Vinod Sharma. 

Watercolour painting by Bikash Poddar

There were about a dozen landscape paintings by Bikash Poddar on display, some of them already sold. Each one of them was a visual delight. While the backdrop was ephemeral–land, sky and water seemed to merge–illuminated by vibrant light, the characters were sharp, depicting rural life away from the madding crowd and concrete jungles of a metropolis. “These mindscapes take me to a terrain that’s totally different from our surroundings–uninhabited areas of our life,” as Geeta describes. 

She is acutely aware of the present art scenario offering a range of art–sculptures, paintings and even photographs. She feels that people are playing safe and buying established artists, especially the works of the masters. “If someone owns a twenty-year-old (M F) Husain work, he can make a lot of money,” she points out.

At the same time, she feels that there’s a democratisation of the market of art. The middle-class people who bought a new house want to adorn it with work of art, and they are willing to shell out good money for it. “A generation ago art wasn’t a necessity but the younger lot seem to be a lot fonder of art,” she explains. So there has been a rise in what she calls a “user” buying while the “investment” buyers prefer safer established artists in these uncertain times. In the meantime, Geeta is committed to take life the way it comes at her and make the best of it.


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