Best in show: India’s Experimenter gallery wins Frieze in London’s top stand award

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The Frieze London Stand Prize for the best gallery presentation has this year been awarded to Experimenter, from India. The gallery, founded in 2009 by Priyanka and Prateek Raja, has two locations in Kolkata, and a further space in Mumbai, which opened last year.

Experimenter’s winning stand, with its walls and carpet in hues of grey, is loosely themed around the concept of a grid, and brings together an intergenerational group of eight women artists on its roster. The grid manifests literally on the stand in the arrangement of several rows of Ayesha Sultana’s signature square, monochrome works in graphite. Bani Abidi’s photographs of 20th-century statesmen who drew the Radcliffe Line in 1947 to politically divide the Indian subcontinent is also presented in a fragmented grid. And a painting by Afrah Shafiq, a recent signing to the gallery, consists of three rows of squares depicting sections of 18th-century Western paintings.

On a more abstract level, the grid also relates to how repetition and the act of small mark-making are present throughout the practices of Experimenter’s artists, Priyanka Raja says. “Whether it’s in the meditative dots of Radhika Khimji’s paintings, or Bhasha Chakrabarti’s reflection on the slow passing of time, there is a clear formal resonance between all the artists we represent.” These lines of continuity also allow for a dialogue across centuries: a painting by Reba Hore, who was born in 1926 and died in 2008, focuses on erasure, and chimes with the overall practice of one of the gallery’s youngest artists, Biraaj Dodiya, born in 1993, whose paintings are self-termed as “excavations”.

Experimenter’s programme is considered to be a “pace-setter” for [the South Asian region], according to a Frieze statement, and extends from exhibition-making through to talks, performances, workshops and its annual Experimenter Curators’ Hub. This is the gallery’s sixth time showing at Frieze London.

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