The Indian Renaissance: interview

At the Italian Institute of Culture in New Delhi, India, in January 2012 we presented our book on a contemporary Indian art collection we had curated. In this interview, held in Jodhpur, the Italian collector Antonio Stellatelli talks about the collection and his relationship with India and its artists.

Antonio Stellatelli is a brilliant Italian who, for over half a century, has made art his second life. His first being a teacher of statistics and then a manager at the top of private and public companies. Stellatelli has devoted much of his life to putting together major collections of art, to which books and exhibitions in international museums have been dedicated.

Antonio Stellatelli has chosen to collect in order to know and to make known. His collections only remain temporarily within the walls of his home. His story as a collector is that of his exhibitions. After forming a major collection of modern Italian art, displayed many times and which museums have fought over for years, he has created an enormous collection of contemporary Italian art containing more than four hundred works, including paintings, sculptures and photographs. The collection has been exhibited several times in Italy.

But since periods of stability must be followed by periods of change, a turning-point was inevitable. After devoting himself exclusively to Italian art throughout his life, fascinated by the major changes affecting Asia, Stellatelli began to follow us in our explorations of the new frontiers of art. So a few years ago he travelled with us to China. Together we visited the studios of the greatest artists, Zhang Xiaogang, Rong Rong, Wang Qingsong and many others. Thus the idea for a new collection came about: Chinese art.

But here we want to talk about yet another collection, and another trip; this time in 2011 and to Mumbai. With our irreplaceable Farah Siddiqui, here too we visited the studios of great artists: Shilpa Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini Kallat, and Barthi Kher. For Stellatelli the encounter with contemporary Indian art was the discovery of an art that was still able to amaze. An art that is proudly rooted in a history thousands of years old, of which it is able to reinvent the magic. An art that knows how to speak to the heart. Intense and profound.

The young Indian artists bravely tackle demanding issues, often associated with the dramatic, recent historical events of their country. They have the courage to speak out, but never using this as a pretext for splatter art. A denuciation where death can even take the form of a red rose, as in the poetic Virtually untouchable, by Sunil Gawde.

In the last few years India has been experiencing an extraordinary Renaissance from the social, cultural and economic perspectives. This collection, undoubtedly a work in progress, which we present as the testimony of a project, of a journey just begun, is intended to be an Italian homage to Indian energy and also an act of faith in the infinite possibilities of man. Shubhkamnayein, India!