Welcome to Gowry Art

Gowry Art Institute is a registered trust dedicated to the promotion of visual arts with a special focus on women artists. India has a long tradition of women artists, right from the folk and tribal artists who used to create designs on the walls of their homes, on their courtyards, on pottery, textiles and other materials of daily use. Art was an unselfconscious part of their day-to-day practice. Women’s art in our time however received a new impetus when the artists in India began to discover their cultural roots and also were exposed to contemporary trends elsewhere in the world. At least from Sunayana Devi of the Bengal School and Amrita Shergil onwards one finds a new awakening in women’s art practices, visible especially in plastic arts, as part of a larger pan-Indian resurrection in art. Several women artists since then , like Saroj Pal Gogi, Anjolie Ela Menon, Padmini, Arpita Singh, Madhavi Parikh, Anju Dodiya,Neelima Sheikh, Arpana Caur, Pushpamala, Rekha Rodwittya, Anitha Dubey, Kanchan Chander, Kavitha Nayar and Sajitha Shankar and several others, have enriched women’s expression in India by exploring the female body and self in manifold ways and by bringing in elements of desire and fantasy, employing realist, impressionist, surrealist and abstract modes in specifically Indian ways. They have been attempting to create a gendered modernity with a definable Indian identity. Similar explorations happening across the world have found a new impetus and recognition in the last five decades or so.

Women artists still have a long way to go as their number is still far fewer and output far less than those of men artists. It is at such a juncture that Gowry Art Institute has decided to foreground women’s expression in art and do everything possible to promote women artists, create for them a common platform of dialogue and interaction and develop common goals outside the canvas. Our ambitions are global, as we wish to bring together artists from all over the world to India through residencies, organize exhibitions, seminars and workshops, offer scholarships and fellowships, arrange for international exchanges of artists, launch websites and virtual and real journals, publish books on art and artists and encourage theoretical and conceptual researches and practical explorations. While we do mean to focus on women’s art, we do not want to remain insular and will be happy to receive support and collaboration from fellow-artists across gender and our platforms of dialogue will also be open to all artists working in different genres including writers and film makers as all of us ultimately are collaborators in a larger enquiry into the meaning of modernity in our shared human condition as well as our specific national and regional environments.

Gowry Art Institute is a non-profit organisation free from commercial intentions. It is not allied to any political party or formation and will not accept direct or indirect corporate support or sponsorship. Our intention is to make it a self-reliant institution with the income it generates through the residencies and contributions from well-meaning individuals and organizations. In an age of the stranglehold of the market forces over art and artists, it will strive to preserve the purity and freedom of art as a unique form of social and cultural expression. While the Institute will focus on women artists, the residencies will be open to men and women alike.

The visiting artists/writers will have the loveliest ambience imaginable as the house-cum-studio where they will be put up is at Kallar, on the banks of the legendary Vamanapuram river from which long time ago a tribal person is said to have picked up precious stones (Hence the name of the place, Kallar that literally means the River of Stones). The river with its ever fresh and cool waters runs just in front of the house which has for its background the beautiful Agastya Mountains full of healing and refreshing herbs. Even the breeze from the mountains has a mysterious quality that will fill you with fresh creative energy. The Mountains are occupied by Kanis, a tribe of healers who also offer rejuvenating massage to the visitors. The Kanis have their own legends and myths and a whole cosmology of their own. In short to be at Kallar is to be in the lap of ever green and ever youthful nature, to be surrounded by the mystique of the mountains, to be enveloped by legends and myths, to be enriched by the dreamy air, to be inspired by the music of the great river and the waterfalls in the mountains and to wake up to the songs of a hundred birds. The magic in the air will charm and enlighten you and the whole place with its raw, vibrant, positive energy will awaken the instinctive artist, dreamer, mystic and poet in you.