The Collectors: Chemould Prescott Road Gallery


May 16, 2020

Post by




Chemould Prescott Road is doing a wonderful series on The Collectors. Here are some of the Parsi collectors it has featured

Homi Bhabha

View this post on Instagram

The Collectors | Homi Bhabha⁣ ⁣ Gallery Chemould, established in 1963, has a legacy of having served several collectors over the years.⁣ ⁣ As a first among these pillars in the art world, we begin with Homi Bhabha – born in 1909. Nuclear physicist, founding director, and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) he’s colloquially also known as the “father of the Indian nuclear programme”. He was also the founding director of the Atomic Energy Establishment, which is now named the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in his honour. ⁣ ⁣ Bhabha was a scientist by profession, but for him the arts was not just a form of recreation – it was among the most serious pursuits of life which he attached as much attention as his work in mathematics or physics. For him, in his own words, "the arts is what made his life worth living". Sadly, Bhabha very prematurely passed away in an aircrash in 1966 and was one of the greatest losses to the Indian scientific world. ⁣ But his loss was also a huge one to the Indian art world. Gallerist Shireen Gandhy says, “I was only two when Bhabha passed away, but I know from conversations, letters & anecdotes – that he was the prized collector of his day. His eye was so acute, so precise, so sure – that he knew exactly what he wanted, & what he collected is now part of the most significant collections that make up the TIFR collections, in Bombay.⁣ ⁣ My father, Kekoo Gandhy always said, that when they opened an exhibition, the first one to walk into the show was Homi Bhabha – & if he didn't, my parents would not sell till he had the first choice.⁣ ⁣ There is a letter I found from my mother where she wrote to my father – then on travels abroad of the most devastating news of his death – "that it has left her with a kind of grieving she has never felt before".⁣ ⁣ He went too soon, but his legacy is immense.” ⁣ Mortimer Chatterjee & Tara Lal (@chatterjeeandlal) a book on the TIFR collection, titled: The TIFR Art Collection.⁣ ⁣ A less known fact is that Bhabha was himself a painter who left behind a substantial body of work.

A post shared by Chemould Prescott Road (@chemouldprescottroad) on

Jehangir K. S. Nicholson

View this post on Instagram

The Collectors | Jehangir Nicholson⁣ ⁣ Jehangir Nicholson, physically diminutive, began to become a giant among collectors. ⁣ ⁣ Jehangir K.S. Nicholson (1915-2001) was a trained chartered accountant and cotton merchant, selecting and purchasing cotton for some of India’s largest textile mills. But, it was photography and car racing, rather than cotton that were his life’s passions. At some point, he came across the world of art and became an avid collector adding to the life's activities of this man who forever young! ⁣ ⁣ Says gallerist Shireen Gandhy (@shireengandhy), “As a child, Jehangir Nicholson was a such a regular in our lives that I began to believe that he was an "real" uncle. When I think of him, I immediately remember his trademark for viewing "the work" (his chosen one); it would be to put his "viewfinder lens" – index finger touching thumb and look through it to inspect a work!⁣ ⁣ It was in his lifetime that he saw his collection worthy to be a museum quality one – & started the Jehangir Nicholson Museum at the NCPA which housed his own collection and sometimes became a venue for small survey shows. In 1997 when we were planning Raza's mini-retrospective, we approached Nicholson Museum to be the venue. ⁣ ⁣ After Nicholson passed away, the trustees of the Jehangir Nicholson Arts Foundation (@jnafmumbai ) moved the collection to @csmvsmumbai (formerly Prince of Wales Museum) & has now become the modern wing of the Museum. ⁣ ⁣ The museum has been the site for several interesting juxtapositions from the existing collection often in conversations with guest artists and/or collections. In 2013 when Pundole (@pundoles) and Chemould turned 50, Kamini Sawhney (@sawhneykamini), former director, curated an exhibition wherein the museum showed works bought by Nicholson from both the galleries titled: "Kekoo Kali and Jehangir, Framing a collection".⁣ ⁣ Remembering Jehangoo, as he was called by most of those who knew him, brings back memories of a man who was forever young with the enthusiasm and zest of a child who never really became an old man! We miss him!”⁣ ⁣⁣Seen here at the opening of S H Raza's solo exhibition at Gallery Chemould on Feb 20, 1984

A post shared by Chemould Prescott Road (@chemouldprescottroad) on

Kavas Bharucha

View this post on Instagram

Kavas Bharucha (1948 – 2008) was special. He was to turn 60, had worked all his life & was MD, Colour Chem. He & Khorshed (his wonderful wife) were looking forward to retirement… When one night he was gone. Binzi, as he was known to all his friends, left a huge void. Still missed, always remembered.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣In 1978, at a lunch-break, flipping through a magazine at a street-side vendor, he saw a Husain work. He looked up, saw the facade of @Pundoles where Husain had painted on its walls! He walked in & asked the owner, Kali if he had any of his works. Thus, began his art journey – buying his first Husain with Khorshed's salary in instalments of Rs 500.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣I met them in 1988 at our 25th-year-show. My mother prodded me to say hello to this ‘very important collector'! It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted till the end. @Khorshedkb continues to be a dear friend.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ We met weekly for a Samovar lunch. He would complain about the art world, me, other gallerists, a painting he was dying to get but never got, gallerists favouring others, or how art had become expensive… It was an endearing kind of banter! Typical conversation of a collector whose love for art was a one-track mission.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ The collection began with Husain, Gaitonde, Tyeb, Ram Kumar — the works undeniably the pick of the artists practice! But like the generation that the Bharuchas belonged to – the strength lies with the second-gen artists: Jogen Choudhary, Nilima, Arpita Singh… To quell his urge to acquire, (he bought weekly!), the works were affordable & the collection has numerous works on paper! ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣Two weeks before his demise, he was toying with a radical Bharti Kher shown at our 40th anniversary. Khorshed kept pushing him to get it. He planned it to be a surprise birthday gift & arranged for me to deliver! ⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣Binzi passed away a week before her birthday. Apart from the tragedy, I was in a strange predicament. The work had not been paid for, but I had a duty to perform. On her birthday, we held his memorial at the gallery with a string quartet (he loved classical music). I brought out the painting to present to her. It was the most difficult thing but the only thing to do!

A post shared by Chemould Prescott Road (@chemouldprescottroad) on