Kekoo Gandhy, gallerist and art connoisseur, dead

Kekoo Gandhy, co-founder of Mumbai's Gallery Chemould, one of the oldest commercial art galleries of India, passed away in Mumbai on Saturday. Gandhy, considered one of the most significant figures in shaping India's modern art, was 92 and had been ailing for the past five days. He died at his ancestral home at Bandra Bandstand and was cremated at 4 pm at Shivaji Park crematorium.

Gandhy's tryst with art began with the establishment of Chemould Frames, his frame manufacturing business through which he started his association with Mumbai's first group of post-modern painters - M F Husain, S H Raza, Tyeb Mehta and and K K Hebbar. Known to have a discerning eye for modern art, Gandhy went on to set up Gallery Chemould in a small space on the first floor of Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.

"Gandhy was a pioneer who helped shape the post-colonial Indian art world, both as a gallerist and as a committed builder and supporter of institutions in the domain of arts as well as in civil society," said Mumbai-based art historian Ranjit Hoskote.

When there were practically no venues in the city for showing modernist art, Gandhy would use his showroom window as an informal exhibiting space for artists such as Husain and also seek prospective clients for them.

"When they started Gallery Chemould in 1963, Kekoo and his wife Khorshed built not just an institution but a community and an ecosystem that continues to nurture visual arts in the country," said painter Jitish Kallat.

"Despite being such a huge figure on the art circuit, he was never intimidating to young artists. He was known to be friendly and approachable though he belonged to a different generation," said painter Atul Dodiya, who has held several shows at Gandhy's gallery.

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