Located in Karnataka, Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts numerous travellers fascinated by ancient ruins and architectural marvels. Once the capital of the formidable Vijayanagara Empire, one of South India's most influential empires from the 14th to the 16th centuries, Hampi showcases the empire's exceptional artistic and engineering skills, giving visitors a captivating glimpse into its illustrious history.
A new cultural complex will open in the vicinity soon. The Hampi Art Labs, situated near the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is scheduled to debut in February 2024. The institution, which spans nine acres of terrain, will provide artists with one-of-a-kind production facilities, a creative retreat, and galleries for world-class exhibits. The property includes exhibition spaces, studios, and apartments for residencies, along with gardens, and a café.
Hampi Art Labs, created by Sangita Jindal and her daughter Tarini Jindal Handa, is an initiative of the JSW Foundation, the social development arm of the JSW Group, one of India's premier business houses, and builds on a 30-year record of supporting art and heritage in India.
"Hampi Art Labs marks the next chapter in JSW Foundation’s legacy of supporting the arts ecosystem in India," said Sangita Jindal. "It will be a major contribution to arts infrastructure and production facilities in the country and a cultural destination for both local and international visitors. I have had a great affinity for the ancient city since I first visited it in 1983 and am delighted to now be able to connect contemporary art with heritage and nature. The project is also inspired by my mother Urmila Kanoria who founded one of the first residency programmes in India at the Kanoria Centre for Arts in Ahmedabad in 1984."
The centre is based on the idea of creating an interdisciplinary institution inspired by the ancient temple city, where art, architecture, and literature thrived from the 14th to 16th centuries. Hampi Art Labs is located in a picturesque setting characterised by the river Tungabhadra, rugged hill ranges, and intriguingly huge boulders dotting the area. Designed by Sameep Padora, a leading Mumbai-based architect and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, and his studio sP+a, the center's flowing design pays homage to its natural surroundings with organic forms and locally sourced materials such as soil, stone, and steel.
"Hampi Art Labs is an inclusive artist-first centre that encourages a cross-disciplinary approach to art-making and driving engagement with the region’s heritage and artisanal legacy alongside India’s contemporary art scene," said Tarini Jindal Handa. "We are delighted to have collaborated with Sameep Padora, one of India’s most successful young architects, on the design for Hampi Art Labs. His poetic style of architecture reflects the spiritual energy Hampi is known for."
The centre will house workshops for printmaking, stone and metal sculpting, ceramics, and new media. Artists can learn from the region's rich craft culture, as well as its unique traditions and skills. JSW Vijayanagar Works is India's largest cutting-edge single-site steel manufacturing facility, and its proximity to Hampi Art Labs provides artists with a unique opportunity to work on a massive scale and with specialised equipment.
The centre will work on projects that introduce the local population and foreign tourists to contemporary art in all of its manifestations. Learning activities and workshops will be designed for local schools. Through residencies, programmes, and collaborations with like-minded institutions and organisations, the centre hopes to foster cultural connections throughout the Global South.
Hampi Art Labs opens with Right Foot First, an exhibition of works from the Jindal Collection from 1998 to 2023 including Andy Warhol, Annie Morris, Atul Dodiya, Ai Weiwei, Bharti Kher, BV Doshi, Dayanita Singh, Lubna Chowdhary, Manish Nai, Manu Parekh, Praneet Soi, Reena Saini Kallat, Rohini Devasher, Sayan Chanda, Sheba Chhacchi, Shilpa Gupta, Suhasini Kejriwal, Tushar Joag and Zarina Hashmi. The show explores interdisciplinary links between artists from various periods and movements in art history. In a tribute to the site's beautifully undulating architecture, the exhibition is designed to allow viewers to meander across the area in the same way that the river systems that surrounded the ancient city of Hampi flowed.