Sathya Sai & Geetha Sai
Once bitten twice shy. As lovers of art we refuse to believe that we have been bitten. Nor do we have any attention of shying away from art. When we started Chaitanya Art Gallery in 2007 we were just one of the handful of galleries in little Kochi waking up to the world of art around the corner. Little did we realise that within less than a decade we would be struggling to turn the corner. It was not that we were not aware of the basic timeline that an average gallery followed: the first year you lose money, the second year you break even and in the third you make a profit. It just didn’t happen that way. Passionate as we were about what we pursued, we kept on, what else, losing money. However, we kept the gallery going against all odds, secretly washing away the blood that the gallery was bleeding on to the pavement outside. Not a single foot that stepped inside the gallery between those aching years from 2007 to 2013 was stained by the spills on the street.
Not for a moment did we dream then that our gallery would become a booming profit maker. So Chaitanya was not a runaway hit. It didn’t set Kochi on fire. No painter or sculptor rose from its precinct; Subhodh Gupta-like, from its stable of artists. But we steadily kept on showing and made silent statements into the sea that caressed the shores of Kochi. We had our share of good fortune, though of a modest kind. Yet, little did we foresee them turning into exhalations of enormity. We struggled to pay our monthly bills. Eventually we had to pull down the shutters on Chaitanya one day in January 2013.
But we were not gone though. Bitten? Yes. Not shy. We bided our time. Till February this year. And Gallery 27 was born. We had moved to Mattancherry where we had more space, more ambitions and many more stars in our eyes than before. We also had our motley crowd of steady supporters who have kept egging us on. Leading the pack was Bose Krishnamachari who kept on pushing us forward towards this 3000 plus square feet of space by the backwaters. As always we still want to break away from tradition and unlike the market norm where the strategy is to maintain an aura of magic about the business. We want to put art above everything else and sport candor sans concern. We want to explore the mystery that lies underneath dealing art, embrace the romance of being in the world of art, putting everything on the line, with. of course, no security at all. We still don’t know where this second outing of ours will take us to. We have taken the plunge again, ready to swim unmindful of the lurking sharks that are waiting to bite chunks out of us. But any enterprise means entering choppy waters. We realise that the primary function of an art gallery in Kochi is to introduce new and imaginative art to the people here. We would like to develop the reputations of local artists, start their careers, nurture and develop them. And, obviously, we will help each other pay our bills.
We were thrilled to be the vessel in which ailing artist Rajan Krishnan chose to make his comeback and we were proud to put up his works, the two small watercolours that he had done after been struck to bed for nearly a year, on the opening day. However, our joy was short-lived when Rajan cruelly announced to the world that those two watercolours would be his last. He will no longer be with us anymore, ever, to give us delightful works like before. That was truly an early shock.
However, his smiling face would always lurk in the corners of the twin white cubes of Gallery 27 guiding us through our journey with bleeding edge art that he was such a vociferous advocate of. In fact, the Kochi- Muziris Biennale would remain our torchbearer and we will follow the beacon from that lighthouse and we ride the waves living up to the exacting standards that this international event has set. Wish us luck. We has set sail.