Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Art Of Selling Art - Renuka Sawhney

Renuka Sawhney is the young and sprightly Director at the The Guild Art Gallery. With galleries in New York and Mumbai, The Guild is one of the leading galleries showing the works of emerging and established Indian Contemporary Artists. Despite a stake in the world of Art, or perhaps because of that very reason, Renuka is an everyday style icon. She epitomizes the modern, dynamic woman who mixes work with pleasure with élan and make it all seem so effortless. I have known Renuka for a couple of years, though our interactions have been very rare due to geographical distance. But that’s what internet is for, isn’t it! So I caught up with the zesty lady and cornered her with a few questions I had been dying to ask her for a long time. Here are the snippets.
Shotcouture: You're a Mumbai girl. Did growing up there contribute to your perspective on culture?

Renuka: Not really. At least not when I was living in Mumbai. It seems that we see culture only when once removed from it. A case point, I spent most of my time in India dressing and emulating western ideas of clothes and dress and style, but once in New York some of that ideal lost its charm, in some ways one can’t really distinguish one’s self if all one does is imitate. It is only recently that I have started to come back to an Indian sense of clothes. For example I try and wear saris when I can, use more color, and Indian designers, and harem pants from Janpath in Delhi are just one of the ways that Indian culture tends to seep in to my daily life. Of course, given that I deal in Indian Contemporary Art, it is in some ways inevitable that I come back to that culture, in more ways than one. There is definitely something to be said for Identity within displacement.

Shotcouture: What activities did you enjoy as a girl growing up in India?

Renuka: Golf mostly alongside with deranged antics at school and college.

Shotcouture: What inspired you to enter the art world as a profession?

Renuka: The Art world is a family business. My mum started the gallery in 1997, and of course one of my first jobs at the gallery was to serve food at the openings. So I went around for a good year going, ‘Hello. Would you like some chips and dip?’

My mom, Shalini, of course had always been interested in Art and it takes a great leap of faith to start a business, and for me to join her in building a world class gallery alongside our artists is a tremendous honor.

Having said that I always wanted to be an astronaut (delusional I know). I must mention here in terms of having a fixed idea very early on in terms of profession is slightly optimistic; having said that my best friend, Prutha is the most optimistic of them all. She spent a good 10 years telling everyone she wanted to be an architect and it is a testament to her perseverance and her single mindedness that she is now a practicing architect in new York, and I couldn’t be prouder of her. On a side note she also runs a blog on NY street fashion.

Shotcouture: Do you have a favorite artist or artistic style?

Renuka: I have a lot of favorite artists, not so much of a favorite style, though I may be partial to collage and video works. Lately though my collection has shifted from canvas and paper works to video, photography and installation works, especially those that draw several multifaceted perspectives together to frame interesting questions, not necessarily any answers.

It is a function of these mediums I think that allows for several interpretations of a single work, and allows the artist a certain amount of flexibility in terms of the language used.

Shotcouture: The art world is perceived as stuffy, while you have a fun, outgoing personality.
How do you balance the two?

Renuka: The Art world is what you make of it. To me it has never been stuffy, more exciting and interesting and fun in many ways. The Art world has always been perceived as for the Elite, which is not the case, but to me it has always been a vibrant space where the creative comes alive.

As for me I fit in easily enough, so there has never been a conflict in those terms.

Shotcouture: Your personal style is very individualistic and quirky. What are your style influences and who are your style icons?

Renuka: Prutha Raithatha (Best friend for eons) first and foremost would be a huge influence, she still is.

Other than that mostly Art and artists are influential, and just like any designer will tell you, almost all inspiration comes from varied sources, so it is the same with me. I am blessed that I live with Art and meet with so many artists, so one tends to learn to draw from different perspectives and ideas.

Besides these, I almost always spot something from people from the streets and individuals who change the small details of their clothes to create a different effect, all of it fun and interesting. So the best thing is to keep looking and observing how people use their clothes and style to set themselves apart. Some of it works and some doesn’t but with practice one can usually tell what will work, or not.

Shotcouture: Who is your favourite designer and what are the 3 most coveted items in your closet?

Renuka: Hmm that is a tough one. I usually love everything Manish Aurora does. I recently found a great designer in Dubai, Essa, fabulous stuff, very flowy and very chic. Of course he again draws from a wide variety of sources, from North Africa to the Middle East to Japan.

I also love the smaller Indian designers, but my ultimate indulgence and ultimate sin is Parsee lace saris! I have only one of those and have somehow missed getting more in Bombay, but my God they are to die for. The most sumptuous colors and the most delicate lace, it is incredibly sinful to wear one of those.

In terms of coveted items, I would list the following:

I have a gorgeous Manish Aurora dress, 2 fabo Essa dresses and a pair of dominatrix Burberry sandals that I simply LOVE and not sure who would covet my sarees, but I recently got a double paloo saree from Satya Paul, extraordinarily difficult to wear but oh so very worth it!

Shotcouture: What comes first - Fun or Art?

Renuka: Art and Fun, one and the same.

Renuka steals the show at her Art Gallery

EDIT: The two Awesome pictures of Renuka on the top have been loaned by the lovely Prutha Raithatha. Check out more pictures of Renuka on Prutha's blog

All pictures taken by the very talented Shraddha Borawake.


bollywoodstylediaries said...

Very interesting article - she sounds very confident and comfortable with fashion - not the one to follow trends but to wear what suits her..

Prutha said...

renu: aweeeeeeeeee..... i love u too hunny!!! and honestly, just stay the way you are glad to have u in my life!! sorry i havent been able to get back to you yet..i guess its too late now..didnt know you were on a crunch deadline... sorry about that :(

GNSD said...

OMG>.. Love the interview.. and perfectly defined you!!!!

Renu you make art dealing sound super intresting and kitschy


nice article!

Scryptic said...

lovely interview renu, sums your up and then some more! captures your quirky sense of style which u always carry off with so much chutzpah! would have loved to have read a mention of the lime green heels phase in the JC years though, that was an early indication of the fashionista to come ;)

English Rose ♥ said...

Great article!

Merci beaucoup for stopping by darling =]

Stay safe and chic ma chérie,
English Rose x

Inspiration in Italy said...

What an inspiring lady! She seems incredibly confident, fun, stylish, and in love with life! I can really relate to something in particular that she said, "It seems that we see culture only when once removed from it." I have grown a completely different understanding of the States once I moved to Italy. It is as though my thoughts of the world balanced out, and I have learned to appreciate differences in cultures. I feel that my tunnel vision has somewhat been expanded. I just wish I had the time and money to travel all over the world, I would love to gain some true understanding of each and every culture, and perhaps it will be be achieved until I leave each country! :)

Thank you for sharing this with us, it is beautiful to see her love of art. Hope you are having a great week!


Audrey Allure said...

Great interview, definitely interesting :)

R said...

@scryptic How do you remember that? My dog chewed those up within month tho, but those were promptly followed by Lime green pants!!

Prutha said...

hahahahaha..i totally rememebr the neon phase renu... everyone does!!! including neeru agarwal and lamba!!



What an interesting interview! Amazing job! :)

Taj Acosta said...

ok that dress she is wearing is amazing! And the interview rocks girl! xoxo

Berlin said...

I just love everything here, especially the dress and the artwork! Lovely. Thanks for dropping by =)


Johanna Urban said...


Great article and interview!!! :D ...and Yes, I love that quote, beauty is!


SabinePsynopsis said...

Great interview. Her dress is a piece of art in itself.

SR@MyStyle said...

Hi there-a very good interview and how talented she is!

Nathalie said...

Wow, this dress is absolutely amazing. That print is gorgeous!!

Couture Millinery Atelier. said...

Really enjoyed this interview. She seems so confident and so sure of her direction, it is, indeed, very admirable! I certainly love the colors of her clothes maybe because I would SOOO chicken out of wearing something so striking and strong.:-)))
Well, I assume you were the prettiest little girl in the beret.:-))) Thank you so very much for your wonderful comment!:-) I am wishing you sectacular weekend.:-0

CCWai said...

Wow, I have to say that the dress in those pictures is simply amazing!
I'm stunned with the colors.

Noble Beeyotch said...

I love the dress on Renuka in the first two pics! She sounds like an inspirational fashionista!

Noble Beeyotch said...

PS: I have added you to my blogroll!


Ilse said...

interesting article, and I love how she has her own style!

meraldia said...

Very interesting interview! And I like that colorful dress!

Cafe Fashionista said...

I really love her cheekiness. She is so ready, willing, and able to have fun with fashion - and colors! Great post!! :)

Vintage Obsession said...

i did check her style in Prutha's blog , she has indeed mastered the art and the fashion art pretty well :)

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

I enjoyed the article and reading about her art and impressions. I do adore the dress she's wearing though. Bold and feminine!

Elaine said...

Wow, what a great interview! She sounds like a great person. I really like her style in the first pic!

Enter to win a professional flat iron!
clothed much, a modest fashion blog

Tamanna A. Shaikh said...

Truly a fabulous woman! I love women like her who are on their own and stylish yet! :)

The Very Subjective said...

damn, those colors are killing me, i wish europeans could do with color what you can!

Couture Millinery Atelier. said...

I stopped by to see if there is anything new. :-) I always enjoye your fabulous posts so much! I am wishing you wonderful week :-)))

Haute World said...

Great post - she sounds like a fascinating woman! And she also has great style. It was so interesting to read how her style evolved once she removed herself from Mumbai and managed to rediscover elements of Indian fashion.

Fashion Cappuccino said...

What an amazing lady!! Very well-spoken and intelligent!! xoxoxoxo said...

Hello Webmaster

I am webmaster of Diamond watches, Engagement Rings and Luxury Watches related websites; I visited your website and found your website information( )and advice to be a very good fit for our visitors so could you please give us the best price for a site wide link on your esteemed website for a period of half and 1 Year? We will make payments via PayPal so if interested

If we are happy with your price, then we will send you the Link details that you can place on your website and we will make the payments to the PayPal id provided by you.

nagendra singh

Anonymous said...

I like your blog !!Thank you. They are really great .
do not miss my goods , they are very beautiful !!
Fashion watches
Discount watches
Antique pocket watches
Engraved pocket watches