‘Unpacking the Studio’ located Sabavala’s studio practice in the context of an evolving five-century- old history of the studio from Albrecht Dürer to Olafur Eliasson. It also, for the first time, situated Sabavala in the context of the diverse, even eccentric artistic experiments taking place in India between the 1930s and the 1950s. Drawing on the holdings of the CSMVS, the exhibition also mapped Sabavala’s work in relation to Himalayan and Japanese art, which inspired him.
The exhibition draws on the Sabavala’s paintings as well as the rich archive of drawings, sketchbooks, diaries and photographs so generously donated by the artist’s wife Shirin as well as the collections of the CSMVS, to dramatize the intimate relation between the studio, the academy and the gallery in Jehangir Sabavala’s career.
Ranjit Hoskote is a cultural theorist, curator and poet based in Mumbai. He is the author of 30 books, including a biography of Jehangir Sabavala, Pilgrim, Exile, Sorcerer (Eminence Designs, 1998), and numerous monographs, among them The Complicit Observer: The Art of Sudhir Patwardhan (Eminence Designs, 2004), Zinny & Maidagan: Compartment/ Das Abteil (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/ Walther König, 2010), and Atul Dodiya (Prestel, 2014). With Nancy Adajania, he is co-author of The Dialogues Series (Popular, 2011), an unfolding programme of conversations with artists. With Maria Hlavajova, he is editor of Future Publics: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art (BAK/Valiz, 2015).
Hoskote curated India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011), co-curated the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008), and was co-convenor of Documents, Constellations, Prospects (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2013). His exhibitions include Bombay: Labyrinth/ Laboratory (Japan Foundation, Tokyo, 2001), a mid-career retrospective of Atul Dodiya; Jehangir Sabavala, a lifetime retrospective (NGMA Mumbai & Delhi, 2005-2006); Unpacking the Studio: Celebrating the Jehangir Sabavala Bequest (CSMVS/ JNAF, 2015), and No Parsi is an Island (with Nancy Adajania; NGMA Mumbai, 2013 & NGMA Delhi, 2016).