The Devi Art Foundation was established to facilitate the viewership of creative expression and artistic practice that exists in India. This nonprofit space provides for innovation unconstrained by commercial limitations, in order to afford an art center for artists from the region engaged in cutting-edge, experimental work. Along with providing a platform for contemporary artists, it hopes to interact closely with and encourage young curators and critics, helping to give voice to their concerns. By undermining geopolitical divides, the foundation’s objective is to foster a dialogue among various art practitioners from within the Indian Subcontinent, enhancing the understanding of our shared history.
A series of talks and lectures is designed to accompany each exhibition in an attempt to bridge the gap between art production and the wider audience. Supplementing the series is an education and outreach program aimed at encouraging a culture where art becomes a matter of active discussion and debate. Located on the premises of a corporate office, the foundation is spread over two floors with an area of 7,500 square feet. Its program focuses on two exhibitions each year, curated out of the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection. The works are on view for a substantial period to allow engagement with the exhibits.
As one of the most comprehensive compilations of contemporary art in India, the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection is comprised of significant artworks in media as varied as painting, sculpture, interactive installation, video, and photography, reflecting the collectors’ cross-disciplinary interests. Even as representations of India’s folk and tribal traditions have been integrated into the core of the collection, other countries in the Sub-continent such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Tibet have a growing and substantial voice.
While the collection was initiated by Lekha in the 1980’s with works from the Bengal School, the ‘Progressive Artists Group,’ and others who were active at the time, Anupam’s own interests lie in experimental and cutting edge art forms. His forays into the art world began approximately a decade ago, when he began pursuing works by artists of his generation – like Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Sudarshan Shetty, Anita Dube, A. Balasubramaniam, and Mithu Sen – to whose practice he felt he could better relate. Together, Lekha and Anupam have nurtured a Collection, which finds articulation through challenging works that explore a plethora of concerns; artists from the region, who take risks in their respective practices, are encouraged and supported from an early stage in their career.
Growing out of this private passion – with a much greater charge through its exhibitions, artists’ interactions, and education and outreach programme – the Devi Art Foundation, is committed to introducing contemporary art practice to public discourse.