Executive Director of Nature Morte, Aparajita Jain, President of Reliance Brands Ltd., Darshan Mehta, leading art market journalist, Melanie Gerlis, CEO of Angus Montgomery Arts, Scott Gray and Managing Director of Christie’s India, Sonal Singh, offer their perspectives on the trends shaping the art market today and growing status of South Asian art globally. The talk will open with a keynote by Fair Director of India Art Fair, Jaya Asokan and will be moderated by Amit Gupta, Founder and Editor-in-chief of STIR.
Generously supported by JSW and curated by researcher and arts manager, Priya Chauhan, ART ACROSS —— celebrates the power of critical dialogue and the critical need for celebrating the arts. Spanning key issues in art, design and architecture from a variety of perspectives including from institutions, market experts, philanthropists and creatives, the series aims to foster an inclusive platform to explore contemporary culture, with South Asia at its centre. All talks will also be conducted in Indian Sign Language.
Aparajita Jain: Aparajita Jain, Executive Director of Nature Morte Art Limited in New Delhi, spearheads the growth of India’s leading Contemporary Art Gallery. Founder of The Saat Saath Arts Foundation (SSA), she established India’s first international Sculpture Park in Jaipur. Jain is also the founder of Terrain.art, a blockchain-based platform. She has been recognized for her impactful contributions to the art world by Artsy, ELLE, Shethepeople, Observer, and Harper’s Bazaar. In 2019, she received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from FICCI FLO. Jain serves on the advisory board of ICCR and the Board of Trustees of the International Sculpture Center. Additionally, she is a Director of the Hotz Group, with diverse interests.
Darshan Mehta: Darshan Mehta is the Managing Director of Reliance Brands Limited (RBL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited. He also oversees the development and launch of Reliance Group’s two Retail Centres in Mumbai, which are set to redefine luxury retail in India. RBL is the largest player in the premium to luxury fashion and lifestyle space in India, having partnered with brands such as Valentino, Balenciaga, Tiffany & Co., Zegna, Giorgio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Pottery Barn – to name a few. It runs a portfolio of 2,234 Point of Sales across mono-brand stores and shop-in-shops in India, in top 185 cities in India. RBL also globally owns and operates the iconic Hamleys toy business out of London and present in 16 countries. Darshan is a Chartered Accountant by profession and started his early career with PwC India. He then spent over two decades with the Lalbhai Group where he held leadership positions at Grey Advertising (part of Lalbhai group before being acquired by WPP), Anagram Stock Broking and finally as the CEO of Arvind Brands Limited where he built a fledgling portfolio of mainstream license brands into a formidable portfolio of international fashion partnerships. In 2007, he left the Lalbhai Group to start RBL.
Melanie Gerlis: Melanie Gerlis has been the art market columnist and contributor for the Financial Times since 2016 and is editor at large at The Art Newspaper. Her books include Art as an Investment? (2014) and The Art Fair Story (2021). She has a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and an MA in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Scott Gray: Founder & CEO of Creo Arts Group and PHOTOFAIRS and CEO of Angus Montgomery Arts, Gray has over 20-years experience in the international events and arts business. Scott also serves as Managing Director for the India Art Fair and Tokyo Gendai.
Sonal Singh: Sonal Singh’s responsibilities as the Managing Director of Christie’s India include nurturing strong relationships with collectors, art historians, curators and the broader arts community in South Asia. She also oversees Business Development for the company’s operations in the region across categories and works closely with the South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Department as a Senior Specialist of its team. As a representative of Christie’s, Sonal has formed close relationships with key art-related foundations and organizations in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan and contributes to lectures, discussions and news and feature articles on South Asian art. Having studied Design at Central Saint Martins and Modern and Contemporary Art History at Christie’s Education in London, Sonal brings a unique mix of experience spanning the creative, art historical and art business spheres.
Jaya Asokan: Jaya Asokan, as the Fair Director at IAF, is responsible for the strategic and curatorial enhancement of the fair, and increasing its footprint in India and internationally. Jaya brings over 20 years of experience in numerous creative industries including arts, culture, design, fashion and luxury.
Amit Gupta: A creative thinker, curator, and entrepreneur, Amit has worked for over three decades with a motivation to facilitate intersections amongst diverse creative disciplines and distant geographies while launching pioneering initiatives that propel the creative discourse, practice, and allied industries. In 2014, intending to democratise knowledge creation and dissemination, he set up a founding team to launch STIR with a manifesto to embrace inquiry, investigation, and introspection. The first product of STIR was launched in 2015 – a print publication called mondo*arc india – that has today grown into an interdisciplinary global digital magazine, STIRworld.com. Starting with a career in advertising, Amit soon moved on to set up India’s first architecture and design gallery that supported a portfolio of emerging designers while launching iconic global design brands in India in the late 1990s. The gallery curated shows that not only launched new talent, it addressed pertinent themes that challenged the status quo in the domestic landscape and collaborated with international institutions for transcontinental cross-pollination. Amit is geared to launch the next ventures focused on strengthening STIR’s fast-growing critically acclaimed position within the global creative ecosystem.