Aparajita Jain, founder & director, Saat Saath Arts & Peter Nagy, curator, The Sculpture Park
Aparajita Jain, founder & director, Saat Saath Arts & Peter Nagy, curator, The Sculpture Park

Jaipur palace turns into a first-of-its-kind contemporary sculpture park

A collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan, Saat Saath Arts and a number of corporate sponsors, the park will display works by top Indian and international artists

Till November 2018, the Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur, will function as a first-of-its-kind contemporary sculpture park in the country, and display work by top Indian and international artists. Open to the pubic and a treat to art-lovers, ‘The Sculpture Park’, a collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan, Saat Saath Arts and a number of corporate sponsors, aims to give a contemporary edge to India’s heritage property. Aparajita Jain of Saat Saath Arts and curator Peter Nagy speak to us about this unique project.

How did the concept for this park first come about? What motivated it?
Aparajita Jain: We have always been intensely aware of the lack of public art venues in India as well as arts being a part of our living heritage. Peter and I have been speaking about the need for venues, and he suggested the use of heritage spaces in India for contemporary sculpture. It made perfect sense; then we spoke to Malvika Singh (Chief Minister’s Advisory Council, Government of Rajasthan), and she loved the idea too. We need public spaces for art, for contemporary art to be viewed by the masses and to use culture as a conduit for job creation, tourism and economic growth of areas. Vis a vis Jaipur, though it has multiple tourist spots, amongst the forts, most of the visitation is restricted to Amer. Nahargarh is beautiful, but not as busy. For repeat visits, one needs to come up with something new. We are doing an experiment here…let’s see if it works.

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Walk us through some of the highlights of this curated park.
Peter Nagy: The first thing one will notice upon entry to the palace is the grand courtyard and the four large sculptures placed there. Two figurative bronzes (one by Huma Bhabha and the other by Bharti Kher) stand opposite each other, balanced by a large silver Ambassador car (cast in aluminium by Subodh Gupta) and two monumental wings (in grey fibreglass by Thukral & Tagra). In the far corner, almost invisible, stands a mirror-finish figure by the American artist Matthew Day Jackson. Each apartment in the palace then contains sculpture by various artists. Certainly, a highlight is the suite of seven pieces of burnt furniture (in the Maharaja’s apartment) cast in bronze by the French artist Arman. Upstairs, don’t miss the pairing of a new three-part sculpture by Benitha Perciyal of Chennai with a room of abstracted Buddhas by the New York artist Arlene Shechet.

How does engagement with the local government help the creative field and vice versa?
Nagy: The local government has supplied the marvellous site and facilitated the installation and security. All in all, they have been enthusiastic and supportive. We look forward to more of their feedback about how to better serve the very diverse audience that is coming to Sculpture Park and interacting with the artworks.

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