(L-R) V Sunil, Shalini Passi, Sanjna Kapoor and Bose Krishnamachari.
(L-R) V Sunil, Shalini Passi, Sanjna Kapoor and Bose Krishnamachari.

Shalini Passi, patron of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, launched her new art initiative in New Delhi

The Shalini Passi Art Foundation commits to advocating a new aesthetic language within the Indian avant-garde

(L-R) Manisha Gera Baswani, Passi and Krishnamachari.

Notable art collector and patron Shalini Passi hosted a joint event with the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) at her art-filled home in the tony Golf Links precinct of New Delhi recently. In the company of artists, gallerists, foreign dignitaries and other avid supporters of the arts, Passi launched her new initiative – the Shalini Passi Art Foundation (SPAF). The Foundation’s curator, Dr.Arshiya Lokhandwala described the initiative as showing a commitment to advocating a new aesthetic language within the Indian avant-garde, which collapses the hierarchical distinctions between art, architecture, craft, design and fashion.

Sanjay Passi with artist Subodh Gupta.

With the objective of broadening access to the arts, the Foundation also announced that it has established an associated arts blog, MASH (My Art Shalini), which features topical articles on art, architecture, craft, design and fashion; highlights emerging talent in these disciplines; and engages in behind-the-scenes studio interviews with artists of the moment. The Foundation will pioneer new initiatives and encourage experimental new practices in the arts – including the launch of a new award for New Media Art, in collaboration with FICA (Foundation for India Contemporary Art) – in addition to its ongoing support of contemporary art foundations and significant cultural events.

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Commenting on the occasion, Passi, founder of the SPAF, said, “I am excited that, through the foundation, I will be able to play a significant role in developing the much-needed ecosystem for arts and support a new generation of artists and cultural practitioners – not only in the arts, but also in design, architecture, crafts and fashion. The MASH FICA New Media award further supports the development of path-breaking new media projects.”

As a Silver Patron of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, Passi provided a platform for prominent members of the organisation, including trustees and the curator, to share their vision for the upcoming biennale, which will open on December 12, 2018, along with the Foundation’s plans for aiding relief funds after the recent disastrous floods in Kerala.

Curator for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 – the fourth edition of the ‘people’s biennale’ – eminent artist Anita Dube presented her approach to this large-scale project, as well as an insight into the process of making such an event materialise. Entitled ‘possibilities for a non-alienated life’, Dube’s biennale asks how we could all come together in times of political difference and violence to find new and alternative ways of living.

“My earliest intuitive vision for this edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale to explore the possibilities for a non-alienated life, has remained with me. The need to listen, think and learn with each other, particularly voices from the margins – of women, of the queer community, the oppressed castes, the whispers and signs of nature – with a spirit of freedom and comradeship, is vital. In both the exhibition and the carefully-designed interactive spaces, I hope the incredible range of exhibiting artists and visitors will become active participants and co-producers of the biennale as a shared knowledge laboratory,” added Dube.

Passi is flanked by Kalyani Chawla and Feroze  Gujral.

Bose Krishnamachari, president, Kochi Biennale Foundation, commented: “After the floods that devastated much of the state, it has been deeply moving to see [not only] the people of Kerala – but also the country, come together and act. Sharing and making of art is an essential part of rebuilding and healing, and we hope Kochi Biennale Foundation can aid in that effort in Kerala. This edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale promises to be the most socially and politically significant yet. We are so happy to share a glimpse of that project with you today, and convey the potential for change that art can hold.”

Indeed, with so much on offer, all roads promise to lead to Kochi from December 12 onwards.

A tête-à-tête with the founder of SPAF:

What sparked off your interest in contemporary Indian art?
I always had a sense of aesthetic appreciation; back when I was at school, I learnt to observe artworks in terms of colour, form and texture. As I grew up, I learned more about specific styles and movements in art, and my appreciation developed a deeper level of meaning.

How and when did you become a patron of the arts in India?
I’ve been supporting outreach for underprivileged children through the arts for several years now, as well as sitting on the advisory board of Khoj, board of trustees for Chennai Photo Biennale and being a patron of FICA and of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Tell us a bit about your first art acquisition and what it means to you.
The first artwork that I acquired was from a fellow art student; a friend of mine had made a beautiful sketch of a portrait, so I exchanged that with one of my landscapes. After that, my first serious acquisition was a work of MF Husain – which I thought was striking for its vivid and expressive mark-making.

How did the idea of the Shalini Passi Art Foundation materialise?
I am drawn to creativity; it’s what drives me. I started the Shalini Passi Art Foundation to channel this energy into an initiative that I hope will play a significant role in developing and promoting a contemporary Indian aesthetic, by giving a platform to young emerging artists and creating opportunities for them to experiment and expand their practice.

What do you hope to achieve through this foundation?
The Shalini Passi Art Foundation endeavours to create a new paradigm for artistic expression in India, by supporting and encouraging experimental new practices in the field of arts – including art, craft, design, architecture, fashion and jewellery – that take inspiration from the country’s rich cultural traditions to create a contemporary aesthetic for the region.



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