What to do on a ruthlessly hot weekend summer afternoon as a couple? Malls get too boring after a time (how much window shopping can one do and how much people can one watch!) and there are not many nice movies of our choice (maybe we are getting jaded and old style couple). Well, I got the brainwave last week to visit National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi, India) and when I asked the husband, he was quite open to it (he appreciates art since he never could get much headway in it as a school kid!). So on a hot summer Sunday (temperature at exactly 45 degrees celcius), we visited the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi (India) and it was a lovely time spent experiencing Art.

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, India  is a premier institution of its kind in India. It is run and administered as a subordinate office to the Department of Culture, Government of India and has two branches one at Mumbai and the other at Bangaluru. As the gallery website rightly describes “The gallery is a repository of the cultural ethos of the country and showcases the changing art forms through the passage of the last hundred and fifty years starting from about 1857 in the field of Visual and Plastic arts. The NGMA collection today is undeniably the most significant collection of modern and contemporary art in the country today.”

NGMA has many sections and it is not possible to view all the art works in one day (unless one is rushing by) so we concentrated on the art works of the era beginning from 1857 till the Shantiniketan era artworks made till 1980s. Going around the gallery, it was a beautiful revelation to see how British colonial art intermingled with Indian traditional art styles (of many regions) to evolve into multiple styles, adopted by both foreign painters and Indian painters. I was most impressed by two artists – Raja Ravi Verma and Jamini Roy (whose style of Art has left an indelible impression on Shantiniketan art movement and has many followers till today). We also visited a special ongoing exhibition on Parsi Community and artists. Photography is not allowed inside the gallery, but the outdoor exhibits can be photographed. I feel it’s a good thing that photography is not allowed as then seeing & interpreting the painting in one’s mind eye becomes a very enriching experience.

It was a delightful experience for me personally to come back to visit NGMA after so many years; as a student in Masters (Urban and Environment Planning), we were encouraged by our teachers to visit NGMA as Art is considered a strong influence in city planning, city redevelopment and regeneration (not surprisingly many renowned architects and urban planners painted, sketched themselves). I have fond memories of spending winter afternoons in NGMA gallery. Even on a hot summer day, I loved the quiet pace of the Gallery outdoors and we also managed to click the popular ‘stainless steel’ banyan tree installation by renowned artist Subodh Gupta. The husband also liked the experience, so we may come back here soon. The Gallery has a small art shop where a lot of souveniers and print reproductions can be bought. We got ourselves print reproductions of some Jamini Roy paintings and coasters.

National Gallery of Modern Art also organizes many summer and winter workshops for students (of different ages), special exhibitions and art festivals from time to time.

If you are visiting New Delhi and want to experience something different, or a delhite looking for a ‘hatke’ time, please do visit NGMA.

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