Last year, I embarked on an ambitious endeavor by inviting prominent artists Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, and Francis Kere to create public artworks in India. Unfortunately, my efforts did not yield any responses, funds, or permissions. This lack of engagement highlights the precarious position of art, particularly public art, in our society. Indian art is often confined to safe and predictable subjects, neglecting its potential for exploration and cultural collisions. This article explores the significance of art in an uncertain world and introduces three new major cultural art centers that aim to redefine the future role of art in India.
The Rising Stars: Kiran Nadar Museum, Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, and The Brij:
Three new major cultural art centers recently unveiled their designs and vision to the Indian public. The Kiran Nadar Museum and Cultural Centre, designed by Sir David Adjaye, is set to open in 2026 and aims to showcase India’s emerging artists alongside the owner’s prized permanent collection. The Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex offers a range of facilities for visual art, theater, film, and fashion, emphasizing its commitment to preserving traditional, folk, and modern Indian art. In contrast, the Serendipity Arts Foundation’s museum, The Brij, breaks away from conventional museum design. Designed by architect Dikshu Kukreja, it embodies the idea that art’s presentation need not have any cultural reference, embracing fluidity between real and virtual spaces.
The Changing Landscape of Art:
All three art centers present unique provocations that challenge the traditional role of museums. They recognize the need to engage with multiple media and create experiences that transcend the boundaries of art, fashion, film, politics, and architecture. As artificial intelligence continues to influence the art world, distinctions between art forms blur, and artists increasingly take on roles traditionally assumed by journalists, sociologists, and politicians. The boundaries of art are pushed further as artists tackle pressing issues such as climate change, censorship, political repression, and terrorism. As museums strive to adapt to this changing landscape, their cultural importance becomes increasingly critical.
The Future Role of Art:
In an era where contemporary art requires no foreknowledge or active participation in specific styles or periods, the nature of art itself is being redefined. It is not limited to sculptures or paintings, but encompasses performances, readings, animations, and immersive experiences. The future role of art lies in embracing the complexities of the world and offering unique perspectives. The three new contemporary art museums in India have the opportunity to move beyond self-congratulatory showcases and venture into uncharted territories that challenge societal norms and beliefs.
Interview with Roobina Karode, Chief Curator and Director of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art:
Roobina Karode emphasizes that while the public arts space has shrunk, artists continue to make groundbreaking contributions in areas such as ecology, environment, agriculture, and social issues. The new Kiran Nadar museum sets itself apart by being an international cultural destination that encompasses visual arts, music, dance, and theater. Its dynamic approach allows for a larger portion of the collection to be displayed while featuring dedicated galleries for rotating exhibitions. The museum aims to celebrate the essence of creativity in all aspects of life.
Interview with Sunil Kant Munjal, founder of Serendipity Arts and The Brij:
Sunil Kant Munjal explains that The Brij was born out of a responsibility to revive the arts as they were perceived prior to colonization. The facility goes beyond traditional museum concepts and aims to provide higher arts education, cultural innovation centers, and performance spaces on an unprecedented scale. The vision is to foster interdisciplinary collaborations and forge new futures for the arts.
The emergence of the Kiran Nadar Museum, Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, and The Brij heralds a new era for Indian art centers, challenging the boundaries of traditional museums and exploring the multifaceted nature of contemporary art. These centers invite audiences to engage actively with art, encouraging a deeper understanding of the world and our place within it. As the boundaries of art continue to dissolve and redefine themselves, the role of art becomes increasingly important in shaping our society and addressing the pressing issues of our time.