The seat of the Indian government and the largest city in India, New Delhi is home to a burgeoning contemporary art scene.
In recent years, New Delhi has witnessed a subsequent boom in new galleries, as well as in art events, fairs, and exhibitions – all of which attract a newfound global interest in the Indian art market. Delhi’s contemporary art scene is on the rise, and we profile ten of the city’s best contemporary art exhibition spaces.
One of the leading galleries in New Delhi, the Delhi Art Gallery focuses on showcasing a variety of 20th-century Indian artworks. Opened in 1993, the gallery owns one of the most exhaustive collections of Indian modern art. From early Modernist works to contemporary, experimental art forms and from the earliest British painters and Bengal School of Art to the Progressive Artists Group and the leading painters of today, the collection covers the entire history of modern art in India. Located in the vibrant Hauz Khas village, the gallery regularly hosts a diverse program of shows.
A staple of the contemporary Indian art scene, Nature Morte was originally opened in 1982 in New York and was revived 15 years later in New Delhi by gallerist and artist Peter Nagy. Nowadays, the gallery is based in a multi-level space in central-south Delhi. The gallery showcases a variety of contemporary art forms, with a special focus on conceptual art, installations, Pop Art, and photography. Nature Morte represents a number of well-known and established contemporary Indian artists, such as a multimedia artist Jitish Kallat and installation artist Anita Dube.
Located in the heart of Lado Sarai, experimental art space Exhibit 320 showcases contemporary art from India and the subcontinent. Focusing on new means of artistic expression and visual dialogue, the gallery serves not only as an exhibition space, but as a meeting point for artists, students, and aficionados. The gallery aims to discover and promote the new generation of contemporary artists, encouraging critical discourse and progressive experiments through various seminars, lectures, and talks. Past exhibitions have featured works by Tsherin Sherpa from Nepal, Vibha Galhotra from India, Shahzia Sikander, Waqas Khan from Pakistan, Faig Ahmed from Azerbaijan, and Afruz Amighi from Iran.
Founded in New York in 2001, Talwar Gallery focuses particularly on artists from the Indian subcontinent and their experiences of the diaspora. Promoting the idea that art can be used to transcend geographical, cultural, religious, and racial boundaries, Talwar supports up and coming contemporary artists alongside the estates of influential figures such as Nasreen Mohamedi and Rummana Hussain. In 2007, Talwar gallery opened a branch in New Delhi.
One of the most active gallery spaces in New Delhi, Art Alive aims to showcase the best of modern and contemporary Indian art. Founded in 2001 by Sunaina Anand, the gallery exhibits the work of leading contemporary artists such as Anjolie Ela Menon and S.H. Raza, as well as a careful selection of new artists. The space holds up to five individual and group exhibitions per year and hosts a variety of workshops, lectures, and discussions on Indian art. Art Alive also regularly publishes an exceptional range of supporting publications from limited edition art portfolios to monographs on individual artists.
Founded in 1936 by Shri Ram Chand Jain, the exceptional Dhoomimal Gallery is considered the oldest contemporary art gallery in New Delhi. As well as representing and regularly showcasing the artwork of well-known artists like Shri Jamini Roy, Laxman Pai and P.N. Choyal, the gallery continues to support and promote new emerging talents through scholarships and exhibitions. More recently, Dhoomimal opened the Dhoomimal Art Complex – a vast 1,800 square foot space at Connaught Circus, comprising several exhibition halls, the Ravi Jain Centre for International Arts, a sculpture court, cultural center, and a private museum.
One of the most prestigious spaces in New Delhi, Gallery Espace features a variety of modern and contemporary Indian art. Founded in 1989 by Renu Modi, the gallery aims to promote an interdisciplinary approach to fine art, showcasing the emerging contemporary artists who document and reflect upon the current reality of modern society. Located in the New Friends colony, this three-floor gallery has hosted exhibitions of established contemporary artists like Subodh Gupta, who is well-known for incorporating everyday objects such as steel tiffin boxes or thali pans into his artworks, and Ashim Purkayastha.
A relative newcomer to the contemporary art scene, Art Positive has become integral to the Indian art scene. It promotes well-established and promising new artists and organizes a variety of art-related activities, ranging from online exhibitions to master classes, workshops, and education initiatives. Art Positive also offers a professional and personalized art advisory service for buying works, insurance, display, and conservation. A variety of social events take place in a lively café space.
Founded in 1987, Vadehra Art Gallery features notable modern and contemporary Indian artists. The gallery hosts a wide variety of exhibitions, from their collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art to large-scale retrospectives, and publications. Vadehra also has its own bookstore, which serves as the first of its kind in India, and has launched the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art. The foundation offers fellowships to upcoming artists and carries out a range of educational activities, engaging artists, art historians, curators, and art critics. Vadhera Art Gallery was the first private gallery in India to exhibit works of Pablo Picasso and has brought works of Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon to a new audience.
Founded in 1978 by one of the most influential Indian theater directors of the 20th century, Ebrahim Alkazi, and the renowned costume designer, Roshan Alkaz, Art Heritage Gallery continues to enhance its commitment to promoting awareness of modern Indian art. Located in the famous art complex Triveni Kala Sangam, the gallery has published a variety of art-related publications, portfolios, and catalogs, and has held over 350 exhibitions, ranging from distinguished artists such as F.N. Souza and M.F. Hussain to the new and upcoming contemporary artists.