Payal Kapoor is the founder of Arushi Arts Gallery and has been a reputed art curator since the past 14 years. She speaks to Guardian 20 about her journey, the challenges she had faced initially and being trained by maestros like M.F. Husain and Akbar Padamsee.


Q. You are one of the doyens of the art arena. Starting at a time, 14 years ago, when it was quite nascent, how did this arena unfold for you? Please share the journey.

A. I started in the year 1993. My father, the late D.K. Jain of Luxor, was a known art collector and was associated with Indian art and artists like M.F. Husain. In the earlydays the art world was male dominated and I was lucky to be backed by my father and my husband Akash Kapoor. Initially, starting a gallery was a challenge, as not many people were interested in art. And even collecting it. But when I had my first art show of Indian art, which also turned out to be a success, it gave me immense confidence. Thus, I believe that if you believe in something, you should pursue it with passion. And  never give up. I have imbibed this spirit from my father.

Q. You come from a prominent Industrialist family, Luxor. Was the ethos of business in your blood forever?

A. The ethos of business has been in me always and I was very fortunate to be trained very well by my father,  late D.K. Jain in this field. My grandfather was a businessman too. For me, I have always imbibed and continue to do so, the important qualities of  ethics, honesty and conducting business with moral standards. These are my guidelines of business practice.  I firmly believe that everything  should be seen positively. I have always pictured the glass half full rather than half empty. While working with my father in Luxor, I learnt and imbibed these core priceless values.  I strongly feel training and experience is very important andI feel lucky to have received it from a person who was my friend, philosopher and guide, my beloved father. I now work  to impart the very  same foundation to my two daughters, Arushi and Ayesha.

Q. Arushi Arts has grown, evolved and expanded over the years. What have been the trials and tribulations in the narrative of Arushi Arts?

A. There were times when it was extremely tough and we had to rally for Indian art, which was unheard of, in many countries, in the 1990s. But over the years this has changed completely. I also must share as a woman dealer, I faced a lot of discrimination from male dealers, initially. They felt this was a woman’s whim and fancy. Today, it’s a moment of validation, to be taken seriously, respected, consulted by and bought from.

Q. You have been a huge facilitator in promoting and educating Indian art globally. Where all have you held exhibitions and shows globally?

A. Arushi Arts has certainly grown leaps and bounds over the years. Today we have branches in New Delhi and Los Angeles. Our goal is to promote and educate about Indian art worldwide. But we also deal with International artists. We have had more than  175 shows in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, New York,Los Angeles, Paris, London, Hong Kong and Singapore, to name a few. We have participated in art fairs showing Indian art in Singapore, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. We strongly believe Indian art is just starting to grow and will continue to  grow for the next  two decades. I have given lectures in Indian art in Los Angeles and London. I feel I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn and sharpen my eye for art,  from great art dealers and well-known Indian artists like M.F. Husain and Akbar Padamsee.

Q. What advice would you like to give to young budding entrepreneurs in both the art arena and otherwise?

A. Always be positive and love what you do. There will be times when you are confused but don’t let this get to you, or affect your work. Be willing to work hard,but never seek the fruit. Don’t have ego and expectations, remain humble and never sucumb to what the world will say. Always give your best to anything that you do. If you get stuck somewhere take the advice of a senior butthen still make your own decision.