MASH India is an initiative undertaken by Shalini Passi who is an art explorer, collector and philanthropist. One of the familiar faces of the showbiz world, Shalini has been contributing laboriously to the art community. Her endeavour to bridge the intersection between her five verticals – architecture, art, craft, design and fashion is undoubtedly laudable. We engaged in a conversation with Shalini Passi to apprehend her art journey so far. Here are the excerpts from the conversation:
How did your journey as a collector of all things art began?
From an early age I was quite interested in art and made several paintings as a young child. Both my aunt and my father were also painters. I was also drawn towards architecture too. My uncle used to study in IITD and I remember being so interested in the building. Since my father and grandfather were in the business of construction, I also grew up with a lot of blueprints around the house. Growing up I had an amazing teacher Mr. Bishamber Khanna who was an enamelist. He taught me not just to see things but register things. So now when I walk into a room or look at pieces of art, I have an almost photographic recollection. So that experience really changed the way I perceive things. He used to say that the eye of an artist should be able to capture things and that’s how an artist recreates.
How does MASH as a crossroad for art, architecture, craft, fashion, and design open doors for artists?
MASH as a platform is so unique because it is accessible. Its accessibility lies in the fact that it is an online space and it has no barriers, so any artist who loves their craft can approach us. As an individual I am also proud of the fact that I am a patron for several upcoming artists and MASH provides them with a space where their work can be featured and exhibited.
As a pioneer of visual and media arts, what challenges and commitments, in terms of collectivity and display surfaced your way?
One challenge that I often face is that I have to edit and make sure that the pieces that I am currently displaying speak to me on a deeper level. It is difficult when you are so engrossed in art that you are unable to choose which artwork to display.
Who are some of the emerging artists that are going to be the biggest names in contemporary art in the near future?
Artists that I think are going to be big names in future are painter and sculptor Sahaj Rahal whose work is very mythical in nature. Then there is Asim Waqaf who has a background in architecture and creates evocative installations that address our ecology. Also, Himali Singh Soin who is a performance artist who also works with film.
Which art movement or wave do you particularly relate to?
I particularly love the art deco movement that began and gained prominence in the mid twentieth century.
How has lockdown been for MASH India? Did art flourish or did it wither?
In order to keep our spirits up and to keep flourishing we organized an online exhibition with leading contemporary artists. During the lockdown we also released several articles such as ‘Atworks I would Love to be Quarantined with’. We also interviewed artists to map their creative process during the pandemic.
What is a piece of advice that you would want to bestow upon aspiring artists/collectors?
My advice would be that in order to be a successful artist/collector you must not stop learning. Learn and research every aspect of the art world and make sure you have an expansive knowledge of art, from its history to its contemporary status.