Facing questions about the authenticity of 20 sculptures by Bengali artist Somnath Hore, Gallery Espace has decided to shelve the show.
“We are withdrawing the show, and exploring legal options,” said Arjun Sawhney, a spokesman for gallery owner Renu Modi. He declined to say if the closure was temporary and what legal action the gallery is contemplating.
Art controversy: A sculpture from the show titled ‘Agony & Ecstasy’.
Modi was travelling abroad for an art fair, and did not respond to calls and text messages on her mobile. Sawhney said Modi remains convinced of the sculptures’ authenticity. When asked why the gallery was withdrawing the show, he said: “Your article”.
On 5 November, Mint reported that Hore’s wife and daughter were convinced that many, if not all, of the sculptures on exhibit were fakes. Several art experts also joined the debate in a follow-up Mint article on 6 November. “We are happy that the show has been withdrawn,” Chandana Hore, the artist’s daughter, said.
Modi had acquired the pieces from a nephew of Hore’s, Sugato Majumdar. In a previous interview, she showed paperwork from the nephew certifying the sculptures as originals. But Majumdar, in an interview last week, said he found the pieces in his family house and signed documents verifying their authenticity based on that discovery.
Ella Datta, a reputed New Delhi art critic and an occasional writer for Mint, had looked at the Hore pieces before display and wrote a catalogue introduction for Espace. On Monday, Datta said that she and others had advised Modi to suspend the show until Modi returns from her trip. The show was originally scheduled to end on 16 November. Datta said her assessment was based on the sculptures’ beauty and that she did not consider herself qualified to authenticate them.