A Guide to Curating A Private Art Collection

The art world is by far the finest indulgence of life. And understanding it takes more than a peripheral glance. While there may be no DIY hack to develop your taste, a trained eye will definitely inform better than a guide book on how to properly appreciate art and the hands that created it. We speak to gallerist Roshini Vadehra, director and the second generation of the family surviving the renowned Delhi-based Vadehra Art Gallery about her own journey into art, and how to build your personal collection of art. 

Gallerist Roshini Vadehra

Established in 1987, the gallery space has seen a stellar curation of artists– consider the likes of Raza and Husain, which has made it a regular name at sought-after international art events like Frieze, in London, and Art Basel, Basel. It does not get any better than getting a lowdown on art than from the modern visionary herself, who is bringing her own touch to the prestigious gallery. A witness to some of the most rare attractions of art to exist in current times.  

The space at Vadehra Art Gallery 

What is your relationship with art?

I have grown up surrounded by art, and the most inspiring of artists. Husain, Raza, Ram Kumar were all frequent visitors to our home, and I was lucky enough to spend many precious moments with them. My introduction to the world of Indian art was through their eyes, and for that, I continue to be grateful. 

Artist Shilpa Gupta and her works

How do you choose the art you want to showcase in the gallery? 

I am lucky that the gallery already had an incredible roster of artists when I joined. Since then, we have added some wonderful artists to our program like Shilpa Gupta, BV Doshi, Nalini Malani, as well as several promising emerging artists such as Shailesh BR and Shrimanti Saha. Sometimes artists are introduced to us through other artists, and we also come across interesting emerging artists through the grants given by our foundation – The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art. 

Rana Begum's sculptures

How would you define your personal taste in art for your home?

My personal taste is pretty eclectic. I respond to artists across generations, across borders and across mediums. My recent acquisitions have been a photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans, a sculptural piece by Rana Begum, a drawing by NS Bendre, and a painting by NS Harsha– so that gives a pretty good idea on how varied my personal taste can be. 

Coming to building your own collection of art, what is the first thing to note, where does one start? 

It is very important to acquire works that you love. At the same time, if one is trying to build a serious collection, it’s important to do research on the artist and understand the trajectory of their work and how its developed over time. While it is good to go by intuition and first love, a quick review is always good to be confident of the purchase over time. 

What aspect comes first when buying art– relationship with the owner, or the environment that will house the piece? 

For me, the relationship with the artwork would always come first. I always try to tell collectors to buy first, and figure out the space later. Art can give us so much joy, and one can always find the right place for it once it comes home. 

Shailesh B.R.: Shooting Stars in touch Edition 7 

Can you give a step by step guide on building an art collection?

I would do extensive research on what is available and what’s on offer by different galleries– galleries that we trust and can build a relationship with over time. Once we find works that we love, it’s good to do some research on the artist. If it’s not recent work, I would also check provenance and condition before confirming the purchase. Once all the boxes are ticked, bring it home, and fall in love every day!