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Richa Agarwal


12 Feb 2023

Richa Agarwal is a woman of many roles - a director at Emami Group, the executive director of Kolkata Centre for Creativity - KCC, and a passionate art collector. Having married into the family that owns Emami Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Eastern India, Richa was introduced to the art world by her father-in-law’s interest in collecting art. Alongside her collecting, she also runs KCC, a multidisciplinary art space that promotes the growth and flourishing of Indian art.

Despite only beginning to collect art ten to twelve years ago, Richa and her family own over 4,000 artworks of modern, contemporary, and traditional art. Richa’s focus is on contemporary art, which she finds particularly curious and intuitive. As a young collector, her interest in art was initially driven by her father-in-law’s passion for collecting, and they purchased art quite intuitively wherever they went. Richa sees the patronage of artists by corporate entities as a way to give back to society, and she likens it to the royal patronages offered during previous centuries. She believes that industrialists must take on this role today to support and nurture artists in the modern world.

One of Richa’s most treasured pieces of artwork is an installation by renowned British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor. She fell in love with Kapoor’s work when she first saw it in a gallery and was mesmerized by his use of colors, materials, and the thought behind it. The Agarwal family’s love for the art they acquire is what unites their collection. While Bratin Khan’s work was one of Richa’s first purchases, an Anish Kapoor installation was their latest and dearest acquisition.

The Agarwal family’s collection is displayed in their residence and offices, and they have loaned pieces to museum exhibitions. One of their most memorable exhibitions was when they loaned their Jaganath Panda to the Mori Art Museum in Japan.

As the executive director of KCC, Richa’s motivation is to create a space where creativity can flourish. KCC is more than just a conventional gallery - it is a multidisciplinary art space that includes a library, performance space, creativity lab for prototyping, and a conservation unit. KCC represents Richa’s belief that creativity is not just about the art that one sees on the walls; it is something innate in every individual that can be expressed in different ways, such as poetry, writing, and music.

Richa’s relationship with the artists she works with is one of mutual respect and friendship. She believes that meeting artists and seeing their art through their eyes is vital to her work as a collector and art lover. Pinakin Patel, the architect and creative director of KCC, has been a guiding force behind the project, and Richa sees many of the artists she works with as both her teachers and friends.

Overall, Richa Agarwal is a passionate collector and art lover who believes in the role of corporates in nurturing and patronizing artists. Her work with KCC has created a space where creativity can flourish, and she hopes to inspire more people to embrace their creativity in all its forms.

The Kolkata Centre for Creativity recently concluded a six-week exhibition titled “On A Clear Day, One Can See Forever,” which was the result of Annika Hippler, Ingo Gerken, and Lior Gal’s interaction with Kolkata’s city on various levels. The artists come from entirely different cultural contexts and artistic practices, and their engagement with various materials ranging from everyday objects to found objects in the streets created a new sense of imagination and possibilities for open dialogues.

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Annika Hippler, a Berlin-based artist, works with ideas of science and astrophysics, examining the painterly qualities of light frequency and wavelength through laser beams to produce hypnotic spatial and visual compositions. She draws inspiration from the renowned scientist J.C. Bose’s experiments on the patterns of reactions to external influences of the Mimosa and Telegraph plants, which she transfers in her work through a unique visual language.

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Ingo Gerken, who studied Fine Art at the Muthesius Academy of Art in Kiel and Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art, creates site-specific materials and interventions in his work. He interacts with selected books, catalogues, and magazines from the rich assortment of Emami Art Library, adding everyday items from Kolkata marketplaces to make the art book a thoughtfully open terrain for subtle shifts in meaning and poetic expansion.

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Lior Gal, an Israeli artist who combines photography, installations, and fieldwork, creates photographic objects in architectural spaces and site-specific interventions in open, outdoor locations. His work rearranges our prior knowledge about the relationship between land art and action-in-and-on the landscape, often stemming from traversals and long walks in arid places. Gal’s work has been shown extensively in Belgium, France, and other countries in Western Europe and America.

The exhibition is a unique opportunity to explore the city and its profound social and cultural elements through the lens of these artists. To learn more about the artists and their work, you can visit their websites, Annika Hippler’s, Ingo Gerken’s, and Lior Gal’s.

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