EXHIBITION - Works on Paper: Apparao Art for Education (Sep 15-28, 2023) :

In 1982, I had finished my college degree in fine arts and wanted a break from studies. Though I was deeply interested in the arts, I was not sure of what I really wanted to do and decided to take a year to travel and explore my options. I trekked in the mountains, tried my hand at sculpture and pottery, taught art, and enjoyed being free with no commitment to exams, schedules, or any form of rigour.

It was then that it dawned on me that I wanted to do something related to fine art. A book that I read on how The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was founded on a dream allowed me to believe in myself and my vision. Encouraged by friends and family, I started out by hosting art exhibitions. I initially called these ventures a roving gallery, and a couple exhibitions later, I collaborated with The Grindlays Bank in Chennai, which enabled a platform for learning and experimenting. It was a memorable experience because I learnt to enjoy art. With the company of joyous, friendly people, I revelled in creating out of the box art experiences. This was in the mid-eighties when the art world was far less active than it is today.

I made friends with M F Husain, S H Raza, F N Souza, Anjolie Ela Menon, Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna and many other artists. I also met collectors and introduced my friends to art. There was no pressure to buy or sell and this is what allowed me to build upon my passion for art. I did not have the financial power to buy art but was passionate about collecting. My mother, who was not necessarily exposed to art, was always my strongest support and urged me to follow my dreams.

So my journey and education began—I learnt about the art business through an internship at the Smithsonian in Washington DC as well as a writing course at Harvard. Among many other things, I worked one summer at a mail-order art gallery which was an arm of Christie's. In this way, I taught myself the skills I needed to establish and run my own gallery very early on in my career. Although I wish I had an MBA that would have made me more business oriented, I realise the value of having learnt my lessons the hard way, fuelled entirely by my passion for art.

In 1988 I established my very first physical gallery space in Nungambakkam, Chennai, which was inaugurated with an exhibition of works by Jehangir Sabavala. The gallery has only become increasingly active over the past four decades—I don’t know how time has flown! At this juncture in my journey, having worked as a gallerist and director of an art gallery that has exhibited both established and emerging artists, I decided it was time to share my experiences and build an infrastructure for the public to learn, enjoy, and partake in the arts.

I believe very strongly that creativity from different disciplines, when combined, creates a dynamism that benefits creators, viewers and participants alike. The plans to build this infrastructure, for what I call an educational project, are now underway. Today, I would like to give back to the world what I have enjoyed over the last 40 years—meeting artists, looking at art, helping create artworks, building collections for collectors, and hosting engaging events that have given me a rich and rewarding experience. My passion for the arts has never waned and the time is right to move forward and build a lasting legacy.

The current selection of artworks has been chosen out of a collection built with a lot of sweat. The proceeds of this exhibition will prove instrumental in giving my vision for the art world a fruitful future.

Sharan Apparao
Founder - Apparao Galleries
September 2023