Gita Joshi is an independent curator, an award-winning art dealer, and the host of The Curator’s Salon - a podcast and online platform focusing on the art world with advice for early and mid-career artists. Having studied art history and trained in curating at Central St Martins, Joshi consider herself first and foremost a curator. In 2013, she opened the gallery Orso Major, an award winning gallery at Waterloo, London until 2016. She has run artists open studio programs, worked with arts charities, organized open exhibitions, curated exhibitions in business spaces as well as within the gallery context, helped artists prepare to work with galleries, portfolio reviews, been a juror for art competitions, and is a member of the Association of Women Art Dealers. She has curated over 30 exhibitions and her first virtual exhibition opened in April 2020. Joshi provides coaching for artists who want to be seen, celebrated and share their story. She is also the author of the bestselling book “Show Your Art: How to build an art career without a gallery”.
Recently, Gita Joshi curated our virtual exhibition Springing Forward! Join us in conversation as Joshi discusses her curatorial process and the artwork included in Springing Forward.
Can you tell me a bit about your curatorial process? What did you find yourself being drawn to when curating Create’s Spring virtual exhibition?
I started out looking at all the submissions, as there was a broad range of styles, subjects and disciplines. After a while I found I was particularly drawn to the figurative and the interiors. So I continued, now leading with this in mind. It was incredibly difficult to take the choices down to the ones we see in the exhibition. I did have a number of abstract pieces and non figurative in my long list, but as the theme of the exhibition was coming together, I had to review this again and only include those that would contribute to a cohesive exhibition.
There were several entries that didn’t make it into the exhibition that I would certainly put into another show or feature on my site or magazine, for example.
How is curating virtual exhibitions vs. curating in person, physical exhibitions? Has this shift to curating virtually altered your perspective as a curator?
I did my first virtual exhibition in April 2020 and really enjoyed the format. Obviously, it is quite different, as we cannot easily see pieces side by side or how one piece might ‘converse’ with another piece as readily as a physical exhibition. And of course much of this is done al desko. But nonetheless, I do really enjoy it.
The global reach of a virtual exhibition cannot be denied and I think this is really exciting to know audiences beyond our locality will see our work. I’m brewing on an idea for an exhibition this summer: “40 over 40” for artists over 40 years old, who often feel forgotten or that the industry focuses on youth. The exhibition is to showcase that talent and debunk the idea that there isn’t room for the 40+ artists.
Do you think artists’ subject matter has changed at all due to the pandemic?
I see artists certainly responding to the changed circumstances through creating smaller work, and other times using the time to develop new skillsets, such as a painter spending more time drawing.
The submissions for Springing Forward showed me there are many people still creating across all subject matters, but the domestic and interior scenes – which have become very familiar to us all – did seem to dominate.
I understand you are getting ready to launch the first issue of The Curator’s Salon Magazine. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about this decision?
Yes, it’s quite exciting. I have for several years considered publishing a magazine to give artists another way to show their art. At the start of the year I just had a strong gut feeling it had to happen in 2021.
I have been to artist’s studios where they have magazines in which they have been featured, and it really lends another layer of credibility and validation to the work that we see on their walls. I also love the physicality of a book or magazine, and of course it is an evergreen way for an artist to show their work, unlike an exhibition, which has a closing date. The magazine launches later in the spring.
Is there a book you find inspirational?
I love Jen Sincero’s book, You Are A Badass. I will often play random chapters on audible when I go for a walk. It reminds me everything is possible, especially those times I get stuck on the minutiae in my business when I really should be looking at the bigger picture.