Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Lounge Review: Thukral and Tagra’s works light up an art hotel

A 5-minute drive from both the international and domestic airports, Aerocity is home to a crowded cluster of luxury and five-star hotels catering to frequent fliers

This hotel has been perceived as a book…The windows are the illustrations, doors are viewfinders…A day is a paragraph, or sometimes just a realization. The protagonist is the reader and the writer as well."

This is how the lobby of the new Roseate House in Delhi’s Aerocity welcomes you. A 5-minute drive from both the international and domestic airports, Aerocity is home to a crowded cluster of luxury and five-star hotels catering to frequent fliers. And from the outside, Roseate House looks no different from the many rows of plush, transitory accommodation. But as you read through the rest of this introduction— a welcome note written by the artist duo Thukral & Tagra (T&T)—you will want to know if there are more such notes, or better yet, their art, in other parts of the hotel.

The dominant colour tone is beige and brown, soothing but not too warm. The walls of the corridors and rooms are almost entirely bare, with just the furniture providing character, style and colour relief. But just as you settle into this muted pattern, a lonesome lithograph will gaze out at you from a wall. These are limited-edition T&T prints, a succession of their work from their 2012 stint at Edition Copenhagen, a lithographic workshop and gallery space in Denmark. The prints at Roseate were conceptualized and executed in a book called Bathtub by writer Arjun Puri, and released at the 2015 Jaipur Literature Festival. The six short stories in this collection were crafted for the hotel—each is about a traveller holding a different “passport", who stops over at Roseate House—and published by Ankur and Smriti Bhatia of the Bird Group of Companies, which owns the hotel.

“When we decided to collaborate, he (Ankur) asked us to respond to the space. And that doesn’t mean we just put some paintings here and there. It’s about conceiving a full idea as well. So that’s when we thought about the six stories, which came out to be six lithographs done specifically for this place," says Sumir Tagra. The canvas of each lithograph has an excerpt from its corresponding story, blended into the signature kitschy “Punjab baroque" style of T&T. In each of the common restrooms too, there is a little excerpt from each of these stories, albeit with blanks in between, like secret messages left for you to decode. These are printed in reverse and placed in front of the mirror, just in case you miss the small details.

The artist-duo’s association with the Roseate House project is ongoing. Apart from the pieces from Bathtub, there is one stand-alone T&T artwork too in DEL, the multi-cuisine restaurant and café that gets its name from Delhi’s airport code. It’s called You Are In Flight. Roseate opened in September, and many of its spaces are yet to be opened.

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