One of India’s youngest art curators, Sonali Batra is the proud co-founder of an online art gallery called Great Banyan Art, which brings contemporary art to India from all over the world. Since 2004, when Great Banyan Art was founded, the online gallery has continuously consigned works to leading auction houses in India and overseas, and focused on private sales. Great Banyan brings together a range of artists, genres and time periods across the globe on one platform. The gallery takes great pride in its collection, which includes a range of works by leading Indian masters, modernists and contemporary artists. Featured Indian artists include F.N Souza, S.H Raza, Tyeb Mehta, M.F Husain, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, Jamini Roy, Ganesh Pyne, Akbar Padamsee, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, as well as several International contemporary artists.
Although she’s a Business major, her heart belongs to the world of art, fashion and of course, dogs.
We got the chance to chat with the super talented Sonali and know more about her succesfull journey
1. Tell us about you.
I grew up in Bombay and Delhi, after which I completed my undergraduate degree in Law and Business Studies at The University of Warwick and my Masters in Management at the LSE (The London School of Economics and Political Science).
My interest and appreciation for art has cultivated due to my parents, who are art enthusiasts and avid collectors. My curiosity in the field led me to attend 2 courses at the Sothebys Institute of Art in New York. Studying Contemporary Art and its Markets and Art History exposed me to the international art scene. Ever since I have been focusing on bridging the gap between International contemporary art and Indian collectors, through curated art exhibitions. I currently manage Great Banyan Art, an online gallery (www.greatbanyanart.com) that brings together a range of artists, genres and time periods across the globe on one platform.
2. Tell us a bit about your upcoming curatorial work
Great Banyan’s upcoming show Pandora’s Box is inspired by the ancient greek myth and metaphor used in our modern language, Pandoras box. The proverbial phrase refers to the havoc that immediately arose after Pandora opened a forbidden box given to her by Zeus. It is said that as soon as Pandora opened this box, she unleashed human evils and endless troubles in the world such as greed, envy, hunger, poverty, violence, pain and war. The contemporary artworks curated for our upcoming show symbolize and reflect socio-political adversities that are prevalent in our world today. The artworks are satirical and a comment on the harsh urban life pressures shaping our society. As a result the works are relevant and very relatable. We are also showcasing artists from 15 countries across the globe to highlight the universal nature of our show.
3. Who are the artists that are the forefront of your mind right now?
At the moment I am drawn to neon light installations. The artists whose neon lights works I admire are Tracey Emin, Olivia Steele and Lauren Baker. Another artist on my mind right now is Sivan Sternbach, who makes ceramic balloon sculptures that are reminiscent of Jeff Koons stainless steel balloon sculptures.
4. Can you describe your favourite art piece?
It is a painting titled Storm Chasing Dog Chasing Girl Chasing Storm by Filipino artist, Geraldine Javier. The artwork is inspired by the Wizard of Oz, in which the female protagonist, Dorothy, and her puppy are swept up by a tornado and whisked away to a magical kingdom. However, in this work, the artist crops the picture, hiding the girls face in the margin of the canvas so that the viewer cannot gather her true inner feelings. The title of the artwork is particularly interesting as it uses an infinite loop to express the futility of it all. An altogether incomprehensible pattern, that in some ways sum up the way most of us live our lives.
5. What alternate profession could you be in if not what you are doing at the moment?
According to my education background I should’ve been pursuing private wealth management. However, I’ve always been creatively inclined so maybe a career as a buyer for a fashion retailer.
6. What is fashion to you?
It is something I’ve always been excited about. My fondness for fashion goes way back as I became interested in clothes and dressing up when I was 8 years old!
7. How would you describe your personal style?
Preppy and feminine. I particularly love gingham, tartan and have an obsession for blazers.
8. Your favourite vacation destination?
Mykonos – I love everything about the island!
9. Things you dont leave the home without?
My cardholder, phone charger and a water bottle (essential)!