It’s been 17 years since Kalakriti Art Gallery (KAG) started its journey and it has been persistent in putting in efforts to excel in the art milieu of the 21st century India. Over the years, the popular gallery has hosted numerous landmark exhibitions of pioneering artists while making sure to set some space aside for the budding artists.
KAG houses an impressive collection of artworks by the leading artists of India such as Anju Dodiya, Jogen Chowdhury, KG Subramanyan, SH Raza, Surya Prakash, Thota Vaikuntam, KS Radhakrishnan, Seema Kohli, and Manish Pushkale, among others. The gallery not only curates the shows, but also educates the people of Hyderabad by conducting seminars, workshops, and panel discussions on a regular basis. Art historians and critics such as Alka Pande, Jyotirmaya Sharma, Nancy Adajania, and Ranjit Hoskote have been part of these scholarly exercises.
Kalakriti Art Gallery is the brainchild of a dynamic duo of art enthusiasts –Rekha and Prashant Lahoti. Rekha coming from the city of art and culture (Kolkata) and Prashant being an avid art collector, it was never a topic of discussion for these partners to start an art gallery. As soon as they found the beautiful bungalow in Banjara Hills, Road number 10, they had to turn it into a space of art. Since its inception in 2002, KAG has evolved from being just a gallery to create an ecosystem of art and culture.
“The Kalakriti Art Gallery, as a whole – the way you see it today – did not happen at a go. It has been, and continues to be, a process of evolution. For example, the café touch to the gallery did not happen till my daughter came up with the idea a couple of years back,” says Rekha Lahoti, co-founder, Kalakriti Art Gallery.
As far as the art gallery is concerned, Kalakriti continues to host some of the best shows in the city. But, there is more to the story that lets this particular gallery stand out from rest of the other art spaces in the city – incorporation of various things outside exhibitions. “We acquire, promote, and preserve art of Indian origin. This has always been our motivation/motto for opening the gallery in the first place. In order to promote Indian art, we have started something called the ‘Art Residency’ programme. This programme allows us to invite artists not only from India but from all over the world. The gallery has also tied up with the Government of France for an exchange programme where one artist from France would come to Hyderabad and one artist from here would go there. Now, these events are just part of ‘Art Residency’ and there are many more that happen. Throughout the year, we have artists coming and going; and, at any given point of time, you will find at least four artists who are here as part of the programme,” Rekha shares.
Also, Kalakriti Art Gallery is not just a location in Banjara Hills; it has, on several occasions, spread its wings to promote art and culture. The gallery has been part of nation’s most notable art fairs like Art Expo (Mumbai), and Indian Art Fair (Delhi), and it has also travelled to Bordeaux, France, with its major show titled ‘Kal, Aaj Aur Kal’ tracing the evolution of Hyderabad landscape through vintage and contemporary photographs.
Apart from giving space to the renowned artists, Kalakriti Art Gallery is known for giving space to the budding artists. KAG encourages all forms of art and is open to new ideas/experiments at all times. Here, there is space for all the artists. Be it modern digital art or conventional painting, sculpture, or print making, KAG never turns its back on any art that deserves space and display.
“My husband and I are the trustee members of FRANCO Indian Education Trust. Through FRANCO, we provide scholarships to deserving students and give them an opportunity to study in France. This is one of our international collaborations that help the students in need. Kalakriti as a gallery always believes in giving back to the society. We want the art to thrive and we want to do this by encouraging budding artists,” explains Rekha.