In this series of art walks in Chennai, step into a private home to view rare collections

On October 22 in Chennai, walk into a private home to view a collection that spans traditional and modern contemporary art

Should art remain confined within the four walls of a gallery? And moreover, what happens to an artwork once it is acquired?

These are a few questions that the International Foundation for the Arts (IFA) attempts to answer through its series ArtNites, which conducts tours of private homes that house an impressive collection of artworks in the city. This way, private collections that are rarely visible to the public eye come to light. A tour through art collector and writer Ashwin Subramaniam’s home this weekend, is the first.

This chain of tours hopes to provide young artistes and connoisseurs with the opportunity to learn the ropes from established names, and inculcate an interest in collecting itself.

“Ashwin’s home is a real testimony of his love for arts,” says Upasana Asrani, founder of IFA, who also curated the event. “The way in which he has juxtaposed the contemporary with the traditional, is phenomenal. We wanted to give people who are genuinely interested in the arts that perspective. It is a rare glimpse into somebody’s life and home.” She has lined up three more established collectors in the city to make this a monthly affair.

For Ashwin, home has always functioned as a studio space where he deals with artefacts, kilims, furniture, pottery, basketry and more as part of his work. “I started buying art about 13 or 14 years ago. I was absolutely clueless back then. Initially, we just wanted something that appealed to our senses,” Ashwin says.

It all came together between 2009 and 2011 when he decided to acquire art of established names, both modern and contemporary. “I also realised that traditional Indian art was not getting its due. I decided to reach out to artisans and started conducting traditional art shows in Chennai until the pandemic hit,” he adds.

Three stories of art, artefacts, sculptures, carpets and vintage furniture, along with about 140 paintings, await the audience. The collection is an amalgam of traditional art forms including the tangkas, right up to works of Modern masters like Raza and Ram Kumar and contemporary artists like Jayashree Burman and Sujata Bajaj. “I believe in mixing and matching and don’t believe in one particular rule in which things have to be displayed. It is more the question of how they all work together,” says Ashwin.

Upasana states that the most exciting part of the tour is the intimacy, and getting an insight into the collector’s own journey. “Art should be something that we should be able to interact with on a daily basis.”

The tour is on October 22, from 6 to 7.30 pm. To register contact 9840030063.

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