The Gallerist

Peter Nagy and the rise of contemporary Indian art

01 December 2011
The recently opened Nature Morte in The Oberoi, Gurgaon.
The recently opened Nature Morte in The Oberoi, Gurgaon.

YOU NEED THREE THINGS to run an art gallery successfully—the knowledge of art, knowledge of the history of art and how to talk the talk,” I was told by Peter Nagy who runs the Gallery Nature Morte in Delhi, Gurgaon and Berlin. Anyone who knows him even casually will agree he is not lacking in the third quality.

On a pleasant early-November Sunday evening, the gallery in Delhi was hosting an annual fundraiser for KHOJ—a nonprofit organisation that has been promoting alternative and experimental art, mostly in Delhi, since it was established, like Nature Morte, in 1997. The evening had just begun—the first guests were trickling in and finishing touches were still being put to the paintings, photos and sculptures on display that had been donated by the artists.The occasion was a little more special than a regular show opening for the gallery and there were additional flourishes—soothing ambient music filled the space as classical guitarist Shyamant Behal warmed up for his recital; and a very well-lit and large temporary bar sponsored by a fashionable gin brand, stood on the gallery’s back lawn.

I was in the lawn with a friend, a young textile designer associated with KHOJ, who saw Nagy and called out to him. Dressed in trousers with bold stripes and a brown denim jacket, Nagy came over and joined us. With the preparations completed, he finally looked relaxed. As always, his brown hair was stylishly set, and he was sporting his greying stubble and his round wire-frame Gandhi glasses. He checked the time on his mobile phone and said he wanted to join us for a drink, but would wait for another 11 minutes until it was six o’ clock. My friend suggested a cocktail from the glowing bar behind us but Nagy made a face. “I don’t drink gin,” he declared. “I have some very good wine inside.”

Himanshu Bhagat is a Delhi-based freelance writer.

Keywords: Nature Morte Peter Nagy art contemporary art art gallery modern art Subodh Gupta artists sculptor exhibition Anita Dube