It would be a massive understatement to say that New Delhi’s art scene is booming. When in history wasn’t it? Still, it’s been brilliant to see the evolution of art preferences, appreciation and celebrity in this highly creative city.
There was a time when mainly big-name artists fetched big prices here—but there is a growing awareness now, and respect for, the city’s legions of lesser-known but promising artists. This is in no small part due to the many galleries that exhibit, support and promote upcoming artistic talent in the city. The top galleries here function as friends to both sellers and buyers—and, if you’re in the market, helping shoppers to navigate the tricky process of balancing between aesthetic preference and investment. From local to internationally collected artists, famous to up-and-coming, sculpture to painting to photography, here are the galleries that best reflect New Delhi’s state of the art.
National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)
This beautiful building near India Gate is home to a faultlessly curated collection of modern artworks. If you’re afraid of running into work you don’t quite understand, no need to worry; the gallery celebrates modernity of thought, going back to even 150 years—so we can appreciate that artists we now know and love were once considered modern, too.
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Step into the chambers of Kiran Nadar—a private collector who created this space to share his favorite works of art with the world at large. “Large” might well be the gallery’s theme, considering it’s now home to Subodh Gupta’s phenomenal piece, Line of Control—a 36-foot-high, 26-ton stainless steel installation originally transported from London, across many lines of control.
Delhi Art Gallery (DAG)
The curators of this gallery are known for their persistence in supporting their artists of choice. DAG owns most of its collection (as opposed to temporarily exhibiting chosen pieces), which means it painstakingly hones in on artists that deserve to be seen and preserved, and then goes about acquiring their pieces so that no matter what, these treasures will always have a good home.
This gallery has that rare but beautiful quality of making strong points without appearing to take itself too seriously. Even though it displays an impressive roster of notable artists, it somehow (and purposely) feels less solemn than most galleries do. It’s a great place to discover new art forms, materials and ideas.
Even if we continue to be exposed to list after online list of must-see photographs, the stunning exhibitions at Photoink will never go out of style. Brilliantly curated for concept as much as technique, this gallery showcases Indian and international photographers from varying pursuits, both creative and editorial. The gallery reopened in bigger, better space in November 2014.