The Cymroza Chronicles

1971 – 2021

Curated by: Ranjit Hoskote

In 1971, a new art gallery opened in South Bombay’s Breach Candy precinct, styling itself as a “gallery for young people” and located away from the Flora Fountain-Kala Ghoda axis of the city’s art world. Remarkably, the Cymroza Art Gallery’s founder, Pheroza Shroff (later Godrej), was in her early twenties. A young painter and student of English Literature, her commitments spanned a range of cultural domains, including the visual arts, literature, music, theatre, and civic participation. She had the complete support of her progressive family, and gave the gallery a composite name formed from theirs: ‘Cy’ for her brother Cyrus; ‘m’ for her mother Mitha; ‘roz’ for her father Phiroze and ‘a’ for herself. From its earliest years, Cymroza would embrace artists, musicians, writers, cultural producers and viewers of every temperament and milieu into an expanding family. In the 1970s, Cymroza acted as a lively multi-arts forum for youth culture. During the 1980s, it was a forerunner of the commercial galleries that would emerge in Mumbai during the next two decades.

Cymroza pioneered the patronage of textile artists, ceramicists, printmakers and photographers, at a time when these practitioners received little support for their work. In the domain of painting and sculpture, too, Cymroza adopted an eclectic approach, extending itself towards painters of diverse styles, approaches and regional locations, without remaining confined to a canonical narrowness. Cymroza was also keenly attentive to the importance of critical engagement and documentation, producing both exhibition texts as well as an annual catalogue with essays and reproductions, thus establishing a consistent chronological record of its activity and the trajectories of its artists.

The Cymroza Chronicles charts the five decades of the Cymroza Art Gallery’s journey through a rich trove of archival materials, including photographs of opening receptions and exhibitions, correspondence, invitation cards, announcements, visitors’ books and catalogues.

(Text by Ranjit Hoskote)

Preview: September 1, 2021
11am to 2pm

On view till: October 19, 2021

Gallery hours
Monday to Friday | 10 am – 6 pm

Phiroze Shroff, Pheroza Shroff, Cyrus Shroff, Mitha Shroff in front of a painting by B. Prabha at the inauguration of the Cymroza Art Gallery, October 1971 Photo courtesy: Cymroza Series, PJG Collection, Godrej Archives
L to R: Akbar Padamsee (back to camera), D G Nadkarni (facing camera), Phiroze Shroff (facing camera), M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta At XAL PRAXIS Exhibition II, Exhibition of Contemporary Graphic Prints at Cymroza Art Gallery, (4-21 November 1992) Photo courtesy: Cymroza Series, PJG Collection, Godrej Archives
L to R: Usha Gawde and Raisa Padamsee at the inauguration of the exhibition of the work by Akbar Padamsee at Cymroza Art Gallery 9 November 1990 Photo courtesy: Cymroza Series, PJG Collection, Godrej Archives
Kabir Bedi with Lotika Varadrajan and E Iyer at Cymroza Art Gallery, Undated Photo courtesy: Cymroza Series, PJG Collection, Godrej Archives
L to R: Shireen Gandhy, Rekha Rodwittiya, Nalini Malani at the inauguration of the exhibition of works by Rekha Rodwittiya at Cymroza Art Gallery 22 February 1990 Photo courtesy: Cymroza Series, PJG Collection, Godrej Archives
Rohinton Mistry performing at Cymroza Art Gallery Photo courtesy: Cymroza Series, PJG Collection, Godrej Archives
Poster of exhibition 'From Goddess to Pin Up: Icons of Indian Feminity in Indian Calendar Art: 1955-1995' held at Cymroza Art Gallery in 1998
Poster of an exhibition of graphics 'XAL Praxis Foundation Exhibition 1', held at Cymroza Art Gallery in 1990
Poster of exhibition of sculpture and paintings by artist Piloo Pochkhanawala, held at Cymroza Art Gallery in 1988
Ravi Kumar Nocturnal Animal 1991 Etching -Aquatint, 9/20
Moti Zharotia Untitled 1989 Silkscreen, 6/20
Anjana Mehra ID Mubarak 1989 Lithograph, 6/20
Madhubani Painting Untitled Natural dye on paper
Madhubani Painting Untitled Natural dye on paper
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