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Nature Morte gallery in New Delhi will open an outpost in Mumbai later this month, in a move that will further boost the financial capital’s burgeoning art market. One of India’s leading contemporary art galleries, Nature Morte represents some of the region’s most widely exhibited and commercially successful artists, including Bharti Kher, Asim Waqif, Ayesha Singh and Subodh Gupta, whose solo show will inaugurate the Mumbai location.

Nature Morte Mumbai will take over the third floor of the Dhanraj Mahal heritage building in the gallery hub neighbourhood of Colaba. The gallery, designed by Rajiv Saini Associates, will be a “departure from the white cube” and smaller than Nature Morte’s main space in The Dhan Mill compound of south Delhi, says the gallery’s founding director, Peter Nagy.

Nagy opened Nature Morte in New Delhi in 1997. A previous iteration of the gallery operated in New York’s East Village between 1982 to 1988. In the past, the gallery has maintained outposts in Kolkata and Berlin, both of which are now closed.

The driving force behind the new space, according to Nagy, is how infrequently many of Nature Morte’s artists are shown in Mumbai, despite the city’s commercial importance. “Since our inception we’ve sold more to clients in Mumbai than in Delhi,” he says. “Collectors in Mumbai are less conservative than their Delhi counterparts, which fits with the art we show.”

The new space will also help the gallery in its mission to expand the international flavour of its programming, with plans to join forces with the Berlin-based Polish sculptor Alicja Kwade for her first solo show in Mumbai. “If we’re showing artists from overseas, it makes sense to come to where the current appetite for that market is,” Nagy says.

He adds that the team is also considering a return to the gallery’s New York roots by opening a space there but that the prospect is an “expensive and complicated one”. The US poses other challenges too: “There is still a lot of misinformation around South Asian art in America—they seem to disregard us,” says Nature Morte’s co-director Aparajita Jain, who joined the gallery in 2012.

Although instances are increasing, it is still not common for an Indian gallery to have locations in more than one city—exceptions include Experimenter from Kolkata, which opened a Mumbai space in 2021, and Gallery Ske, which maintains spaces in Bangalore and Delhi. As a result, a number of the region’s top artists have representation in multiple galleries across the country.

Indeed, Nature Morte shares a number of artists with well-established Mumbai galleries. These include Jitish Kallat, Reena Kallat and Dhruvi Acharya with Chemould Prescott Road, Manisha Parekh with Jhaveri Contemporary and Raqs Media Collective with Project 88. Nagy says that there are “plenty” of artists on Nature Morte’s roster who do not regularly show in Mumbai, meaning such issues of co-representation “won’t be an issue for the time being”. In the future, when Nature Morte Mumbai will show an artist with existing representation in the city, Nagy hopes to stage a dual show with their other gallery. “It looks prestigious to collectors when an artist can produce work across multiple spaces at once.”

For the inaugural show, which opens on 18 January, Gupta will show new paintings and sculptures. Further artists planning to show at Nature Morte Mumbai include the photographer Lorenzo Vitturi and the New Delhi-based duo Thukral and Thagra.

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