Meet India’s First Sculpture Park Set In An 18th-Century Fortress: Madhavendra Palace of Nahargarh Fort

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The Nahargarh Fort built in the 1800s is now home to new and fresh contemporary art pieces, making it the first Sculpture Park to exist in India.

The extensive grounds of the Nahargarh Fort, which was built in Jaipur, India in the 18th century, have been standing strong, with all its palatial architecture, for decades and centuries. At the heart of the fortress is the Madhavendra Palace which was built in 1892. This was initially built to serve as a seasonal retreat for King Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh and his nine wives. Throughout the property, almost every structural surface had been covered in intricately painted decorative murals representing various art and culture of their time period. 

Stone Sculpture Madhavendra Palace Nahargarh Fort Jaipur
Stone Sculpture Madhavendra Palace Nahargarh Fort Jaipur

In recent times, several new and contemporary pieces have been added to the vast property. There, you will be able to find various contemporary art installations. For example, there’s a piece by French artist Arman which royally sits under an expansive interior arch that was built back in the day by skilled craftsmen. There are art pieces from our very own homegrown Indian artist Antia Dube which hangs from the ceiling. 

Sculpture Park Jaipur
Sculpture Park Jaipur

The nonprofit organization Saat Saath Arts and the government of Rajasthan collaborated to give life to this dream project of SSA cofounder Aparajita Jain. They managed to install 61 contemporary artworks to give the fortress a more modern yet royal look overall. These pieces are spawned throughout the palatial space. All this combined has finally brought out the 20,000-square-foot structure which is India’s first sculpture park in the history of time.

Aparajita says she grew genuinely frustrated with how underrated and rare contemporary art was in India, in spite of its rich cultural history. There began the long scouting mission of discovering the undiscovered of contemporary art. With the blessing of the state officials of Rajasthan and the help of inhouse expert curator Peter Nagy of Nature Morte, she set her sights on the city of Jaipur. Aparajita says that it’s having a moment, and that Jaipur has a great mix of heritage and new. Though the chosen palatial site had long been open to the public, Jain wanted art to activate it, without altering its 125-year-old decor amd heritage in any way, shape or form. A sculpture park seemed the natural fit for the conditions she was working with. Her nonprofit raised the funding and obtained the artworks on loan. The government of Rajasthan has proved to be extremely supportive with the daily upkeep and maintenance of the property. The first exhibition features works which range date from 1984 to 2017, which is a marvel of a concoction in itself.

Sculpture Park Madhvendra Palace Jaipur
Sculpture Park Madhvendra Palace Jaipur

Aparajita has said that she thinks that contemporary artworks and the historic spaces work together like magic, She says that one of the thoughts that a lot of Indians specifically have is that we are a country with deep heritage, yet the younger generation keeps pretty global and is unaware and unbothered of their rich history in the culture of both art and literature. She wants to establish that even the new generation does not wish to let their past flow away. At the same time, they don’t want to write off their present either. They are the living examples of what was and what is, today. In more compact words, Jain’s intentions were to make the world know that the younger generation is the perfect amalgamation of age-old and fresh-new ideas and thoughts.

A second show, with a nearly new roster of artists, is said to open in December for all the art and culture enthusiasts waiting eagerly for the 2nd edition of the exhibition.

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