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Hena Kapadia: A modern age gallerist striving to amplify contemporary artists’ voices

In a world where artists are striving hard to be seen and acknowledged, it is always a breath of fresh air to see someone stand up and actively do something about it. Hena Kapadia is one of those people who understood the importance of showcasing contemporary art. She knew that there were many artists that needed a platform, but fewer galleries. Her ambition was to create a space where art collectors and young artists could come together and remedy that.

In this week’s Women in Arts series, we are taking a look at how Hena Kapadia was able to realize her dream of having a gallery and what her process looks like.  

About Hena Kapadia

Hailing from Tufts University, Hena Kapadia studied art history and economics and then later went on to get her masters in Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art World Practice at Christie’s Education from London. Hena does not call herself an artist, rather, she is someone who is gifted with the ability to connect other artists with potential buyers/art collectors. However, very early on she noticed how many artists needed a platform to showcase their art, and at the time, there weren’t enough galleries that provided artists with that opportunity. Hence, Hena got the idea to establish her very own gallery, TARQ, with very specific objectives.

Image taken from Verve Magazine

TARQ and its purpose

Hena founded TARQ Gallery in 2014 because she wanted to create a meaningful conversation around art. She had a vision where young contemporary artists could come together and work to push the boundaries of how art was exhibited and perceived in India.

TARQ’s website states:

TARQ’s youthful and experimental ethos encourages collectors, novice and seasoned alike, to approach art collecting through a perspective that marries thoughtfulness with an inquisitive eye for aesthetics and artistic processes.

With its outreach programs including workshops, gallery walk-throughs and talks, TARQ strives to develop an informed viewership for contemporary art in the future. Hena makes it clear that her gallery benefits those artists who are in need for someone to connect them with art collectors. These are the struggling artists who have a hard time creating their own network and putting their work out in the world.

The idea was very much to represent artists of my own generation, and try and build a collector base also of that same generation.

Hena Kapadia

‘TARQ’ is a Sanskrit word that means discussion and debate, which is symbolic because that is what Hena wanted to do when she started as a gallerist; to create conversations around art. She wanted to have a space that grows with the times. For her, there is nothing more rewarding than when she is able to successfully connect an art collector with an artist and they hit it off.

Pillars of creation – Exhibit at TARQ

Hena’s mother was an art historian, and Hena recalls being dragged to these art museums when she was young. Slowly, but surely, she realized that she did find the art world interesting. She became certain of her passion when she did an internship with Geetha Mehra at Sakshi Art Gallery. Interestingly, she found herself leaning towards the logistic side of it, rather than the ‘creative aspect’. Management came natural to her, and that is when she knew that she could do a great job at it!

Something that stood out for Hena was that India did not have institutional state level support for the contemporary arts. There are many museums found in the country, but when it comes to contemporary art galleries or contemporary art, there is little support which ultimately can be a setback for the contemporary artists.

However, times are changing now, and with efforts of people like Hena Kapadia, we are having such important conversations. Hena also believes that there are more opportunities for women now than before. Even at TARQ, their roster has more women than men, which is something that ignites hope in me regarding the future of all underrepresented female artists.

Image taken from The Art Gorgeous

If you’re an artist reading this piece, and are wondering how you can approach TARQ, or any gallery for that matter, Hena has a few suggestions.

  • The first and most important thing, she says, is the artist’s confidence. An artist’s confidence in themselves and their work goes a long way. If someone is not sure whether their art deserves to go up on the wall or not, it would be difficult for a gallerist to have that confidence in their art as well. Believing in yourself, and knowing that you deserve to be seen, is the way to go.

If you don’t believe in your own work, nobody else is going to believe in it.

Hena Kapadia
  • Hena’s second advice is to figure out which gallery you want to work with. When you approach a gallerist, don’t email 8 or 10 of them simultaneously. You must put in the effort and do research on which gallery suits you the best. Each gallerist has a style and point of view, and at the end of the day, a gallerist forms a personal relationship with the artist they are working with. As Hena points out, you may not necessarily hit it off with every gallerist. She also describes herself as Type A, someone who is super organized, and that makes her quiet good at her job. However, as an artist, you need to be able to work with her and keep up with her, no matter your own personality type. That’s something you’ll have to be the judge of once you do your own homework, and it’s something as simple and basic as this which can affect you decision of choosing a gallery.
  • Hena’s third advice is to work on your CV. Many artists have the misconception that a good CV comprises of as many artworks as possible, which is not really true. Hena says adding art in your CV that you’re not creating anymore does more harm than good. You must choose your best work, and make sure that the work represents you. For her, 10 great artworks are better than 100 questionable ones.
  • Lastly, Hena finds it important that artists go out and meet people. They must connect with others, make more friends, and have conversations even if they are just about introducing themselves to others. The world has become a global village, and it makes sense to expand your network and be aware of what is going on in the art world. This can go a long way in helping you take yourself seriously and being self-critical of your work. After all, how can you make your work better if you don’t know what other artists are up to?!

 Make most of the world we live in.

Hena Kapadia
From ‘Shifting Selves – Between meaning, mythology & mirage’ at TARQ

Hena wants to keep growing. Up until now, TARQ has been successful in creating its own local community. After the pandemic, even after a social hiatus, Hena was surprised to meet new people on events that kept talking about her gallery and her work, and that filled her with pride. The fact that they were able to grow a community online felt like an achievement to her, and it’s still something that is incredibly important to Hena. Presently, she wants to keep building that community so she is able to get her artists the international exposure that they deserve.

We have too many artists. We don’t have enough galleries.

Hena Kapadia

Hena’s enthusiasm and resolve serves to inspire all the contemporary artists out there to keep on trying. The thing I love about Hena apart from her work ethic is that she is truly passionate about helping artists in any way she can. While she has a business to run, ultimately her goal is to help contemporary artists build their own legacy. That is something that each one of us in the artist community needs to do, to lift each other up, and only then we can hope to build a world that is welcoming and accepting towards struggling artists.

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