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When Ashwathi Mohan moved from Chennai to Toronto in 2019, the visual arts graduate did not see herself as a virtual bridge across two cultures and artscapes. But three year later, the Stella Maris alumna has brought together her experience as an artist and curator at an art gallery to set up ‘Assemblage’, a virtual art gallery connecting artists from India and Canada. She aims to use her knowledge in curation and art to promote artists from her home town, Chennai, on a global level.

Six Chennai-based artists will exhibit their works through the virtual gallery in the coming months — ‘Layers of Perception’, the first, virtual solo of artist Vengatesh B. was inaugurated at the gallery a couple of weeks ago.  The show features more than 50 of his works in various media ranging from acrylics, oils, pen and ink and watercolours.

The next show will also be a virtual solo of another upcoming artist from Chennai. This will be followed by a group show focusing on printmaking as the medium.

“Having launched ‘Assemblage’ in April, the main reason for us being a virtual art gallery is because we didn’t want to be restricted to a particular location. Being a native of Chennai and currently living in Toronto, I wanted to make the best of both worlds and eventually bring artists from Chennai and other cities in India to Canada and vice-versa,” said Ms. Mohan.

Ashwathi Mohan aims to use her knowledge in curation and art to promote artists from her home town, Chennai, on a global level

Her mission is to promote new and upcoming artists and enable the next generation of collectors to access art simply by clicking a button, bridging the gap between artists and collectors.

Given that galleries have always played a major role in the development of an artist, will virtual shows bridge the gap between artists and the collectors? “We now live in an age of technological advancements to the point that everyone works from the comfort of their homes using their laptops and mobile phones. By creating virtual shows, I want to reach a wider audience not limited to the younger demographic, but I do believe that the simplicity and accessibility of virtual shows will create a new generation of art collectors. The art collectors from anywhere in the world will be able to purchase works of artists from various countries,” she said.

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Ashwathi also hopes to be “the one stop shop” for any art and art-related services.

“I will soon be launching professional art services which include but are not limited to, installing art works, installation of hanging systems and art packing services. Our specialised team will visit your residence or office space to complete the requested task,” said Mohan.

Chennai has always been a strong centre for art, according to the young artrepreneur. “Going back to the Madras Movement up until now, Chennai has seen an immense growth in the number of artists, art galleries and art lovers. We are also witnessing a growth in the number of artists showcasing their works in art fairs in other states of India and overseas. With universities in Chennai offering great art education, I look forward to seeing many new and upcoming artists in the future,” she said.

The onset of the pandemic saw all businesses, art galleries included trying to come up with other ways to stay relevant. By the second wave of the pandemic art galleries started becoming virtual. However, Mohan said Assemblage was not a virtual art gallery born out of the uncertainties of the pandemic. “Having launched in April, the main reason for us being a virtual art gallery is because we didn’t want to be restricted to a particular location. As much as we have forayed into the art world with virtual shows, I am working towards curating physical shows as well, which should get a headstart as early as February 2023. My aim is to curate and launch art shows in various venues around the world, offering a global platform for artists,” she said.

Chennai has always been a strong centre for art, according to the young artrepreneur. “Going back to the Madras Movement up until now, Chennai has seen an immense growth in the number of artists, art galleries and art lovers. We are also witnessing a growth in the number of artists showcasing their works in art fairs in other states of India and overseas

Ashwathi wants to make visible the process of creating an art work through the forum of Assemblage. “Being an artist myself, I am aware of the entire process starting from conceptualisation to the final artwork itself. Each artist has his own style and concept and I believe that showcasing this process adds a lot of value to both the artist and the artwork,” said explained.


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