Art connoisseur Richa Agarwal on KCC's first year and shares her plans ahead

Art patron Richa Agarwal aims at giving the city of Kolkata an international experience of holistic art, at the Kolkata Centre for Creat

Having lived for more than 21 years in this city, Richa Agarwal has no doubt that there can be no other city richer than Kolkata in the country, in terms of culture. And, what better way to appreciate the city than gift it a state-of-the-art centre, where culture thrives in all its glorious forms?

We are talking about the Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC), which was conceived and brought to life a year ago by Richa and her team. Barely a year into its existence, this 70,000 sq ft centre that aims at nurturing the arts, culture and new talent, has already become the go-to address for a 360-degree experience of various art forms, be it visual or performing arts.

“It has been a fantastic journey, quite exciting, and we have learnt from the initial hiccups that everyone faces — from getting the right resources to do the small events, to getting the right audience to appreciate the quality of events that we are doing. We are currently hosting a collaborative show with Italy, and we did similar shows with Japan, Austria and Poland, and we would like to continue this, to improve on what we did last year. And, we are not keeping ourselves restrict - ed to any plans,” says the young and confident frontrunner of the centre.

<em>Richa Agarwal </em>
Richa Agarwal 

In a chat with Indulge, Richa opened up about what brought her closer to art, and how she plans to take KCC to newer heights. Excerpts from the conversation:

What was the initial thought behind KCC?

I just missed the fact that there was no comprehensive space that has a lot to offer in terms of art, a place where there is enough to learn. And so, I tried to incorporate many small yet important things to turn it into a whole structure. For example, there is a library that is accessible to everybody, and there is a creative laboratory to encourage younger people to do what they want to do, where they are free to make their share of mistakes — a place where there is always enough to learn. The idea was to create a centre where all the forms of creativity are addressed, including performing arts.

How has the learning process been, for you?

The biggest learning for this year is that it’s okay to make mistakes — learn from them, and move on positively. When we talk of being able to fly creatively, we are bound to make mistakes, as there are no roadmaps to follow, and that’s a good thing.

<em>Richa Agarwal</em>
Richa Agarwal

How fulfilling has the journey been, so far?

In all honesty, it’s not my baby alone, it’s something that we have been wanting to do as a family, for the longest time. For me, getting into art was totally by default. I have seen my father-in-law and husband collecting for years — it used to be traditional art earlier, and now, they collect more contemporary pieces. The drive to understand art was organic, as I heard and saw so much at home, and talked to people about it — it draws you in completely.

I started an art gallery thinking that would be the fairest way of working with artists, and promoting them. And then, over the years, you start realising how much more you are missing out on. Hence, KCC came into being, to make art more inclusive, experimental and bigger.

What does art mean, for you?

Art is not only paintings — even the way you live your life is art, the way you dress, communicate or even behave, everything qualifies for some form of art. I feel food, which is such an important part of Indian lives, is also an art. So, it can’t be stereotyped. Anything that gives me food for thought is art to me.

What forms of art are you most attracted to?

Visual arts, of course, is something that has intrigued me. I love its language, content, depth and thought. Also, I enjoy and appreciate music a lot, especially Indian classical music. I love cooking too, and it is therapeutic for me.

<em>Richa Agarwal</em>
Richa Agarwal

Do you get a chance to relax at all?

Oh, yes! I love nature and the outdoors, and every year, I go for such trips all alone, with a group of relatively unknown people, and rejuvenate.

What are your plans for KCC, in the next few years?

We’re looking at more collaborative events with international museums, so we can bring the best talents to our city, and take the best of ours to them. We are also planning to make art even more inclusive and enjoyable for every age — from toddlers and teenagers to senior citizens. Besides, a little bit more stress will be put on nurturing local talents.

In fact, as we talk, there are 10 young artists from across the country right now, doing experimental art at our lab, which will be showcased from November 20 onwards. We are encouraging art lovers to come and watch them work and interact with them.

Are there any artists you really look out for, whose works you’d love to show?

I love Ravinder Reddy, Bose Krishnamachari and Jogen Chowdhury’s work. I would love it if someday we can bring Anish Kapoor’s work here — his treatment of materials is simply brilliant.

Which international art museums do you hold in high esteem?

I love what the Guggenheim does. Also, Art Basel fairs are phenomenal and actually so difficult to do. Just sitting at the fair and feeling the vibe is beyond brilliant. I also love MOMA and Tate. These places are different Meccas of art that help you analyse and look at things differently, and become more organised in your thoughts.

PICTURES: Debarshi Sarkar


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