It is a rather unusual place for an art gallery. ArtDesh is located on a small lane near the very busy Walkeshwar Road, a little further down from the tranquil sea. Entering the stone building inside is a welcome change from the summer heat. Inside, dim lights showcase a varied collection of artworks. The 1000sqft studio has seen the work of numerous upcoming painters and sculptors.
Helping talent grow
ArtDesh, an art gallery-cum-studio, was started in 2007 by art collector Bharat Patel and artist Gautam Patole. Back then, Patole was a photojournalist but he soon got bored of it. “Whenever I came to South Mumbai, I would see these artists carrying their works and going from one art gallery to another, without any success. That gave us the idea to start something to give those struggling artists a chance,” says Patole. Patel had a place at Walkeshwar, so they decided to start their studio there.
Their most recent exhibition was by the late artist John Fernandes, known for his figure studies and portraits. It was so popular that people came from all parts of the city, some even from Pune, to attend it. “There was one man, who came all the way from Belgaum and reached the studio at 7 am. He actually hung around till we opened a couple of hours later and spent the entire day here,” says Patole.
They rarely turn down artists, who come knocking at their door. “We are nobody to say if your work is good or not, let the public decide,” he adds. By the end of this year, ArtDesh plans on starting a sort of fundraising and support system for artists in need.
One of the many artists, whose works have adorned ArtDesh’s walls, is Prithvi Soni. A well-known painter, he usually works with oil but has tried other mediums too. Soni has exhibited at ArtDesh a couple of times and will have another exhibition this September. “Bharat [Patel]-bhai had once bought a painting from me and liked my work, so when they started the studio, he invited me to exhibit,” says Soni, who loved the fact that people came up to talk to him during the exhibition.
Studio for hire
ArtDesh prides itself on providing a complete artistic experience to every visitor. To this end, they keep having events dedicated to different art forms. They have a music composer Ameya Naik, who had the idea of conducting music events at the venue. They recently had a music jam session and potluck on May 31 that saw crowds throng the venue. They have been having workshops on terracotta, making music out of waste for children, recycling waste, and conducted an art festival and a photo festival in Navi Mumbai.
“There is a great atmosphere here. Visitors do not just come and look. We are constantly interacting with them, getting out artists to meet them—basically getting people to participate in conversations,” says Patole, an artist who works with charcoal. As Patole keeps saying, “Our doors are always open. Just walk in.”