Savia Mahajan, Spine of Spines, 2019. Photo: Courtesy The Sculpture Park, Jaipur

The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace

A Q&A with Noelle Kadar, Director of The Sculpture Park, Jaipur, India

Sculpture magazine: How did you come to be the director of The Sculpture Park?
Noelle Kadar: I was approached by Aparajita Jain, the founder of Saat Saath Arts (the foundation The Sculpture Park runs through) with this opportunity. I had just left my position as International Director with India Art Fair because I was relocating to Jaipur with my husband. The timing, location, and the role, were perfect, and I am blessed with the opportunity to work on such a wonderful project alongside an amazing group of people.

Sculpture: How was the site—an 18th-century fortress, encompassing Madhavendra Palace—chosen? In what ways was it important that the site have a historical connection to place?
NK: Our project is a collaboration with the Government of Rajasthan. Madhavendra Palace was the site recommended to us, and it has always been a dream of our Curator, Peter Nagy, to put forward a contemporary sculpture exhibition in a heritage property.  In many ways our project represents Jaipur beautifully; it is a city which is both traditional and contemporary at the same time, and without effort. Our project further embodies this.

Sculpture: How would you describe the status of contemporary art in India? What are some of its features today?
NK: The awareness of contemporary art is certainly improving, with large-scale events such as the Kochi Muziris Biennale, India Art Fair, and Serendipity Festival becoming very popular. I think the ideas around contemporary art are changing and appealing to the masses. This is certainly something we are trying to accomplish as well. 

Sculpture: What is your approach to choosing participating artists?
NK: We try to strike a balance between Indian and international artists, we keep in mind our viewers, and we bring in artists whose work we think makes sense in our space. For example, I think the way Harold Ancart’s works react with the landscape around Nahargarh is really something special. I also think it’s important to show a mix of works: sometimes a very figurative work will help a viewer who is not used to looking at contemporary sculpture understand the more challenging pieces.

Sculpture: Who are your audiences?
NK: We welcome up to 5,000 people a day during the winter months. Our demographic couldn’t be more varied: domestic and foreign tourists, local communities from and around Jaipur, school groups, art lovers. It’s really incredible to see so many different kinds of people interacting with the artworks.

Sculpture: Can you discuss the park’s upcoming collaborations, including with the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, and your goals for these programs?
NK: Our collaboration with IICD has been really great. We are constantly looking for ways to engage the community of Jaipur and offer our space as a place for learning. It seemed an obvious fit to collaborate with one of the leading design schools in Jaipur and allow students the experience to assist our artists during installation. We hope this experience broadens their thinking and we will continue to do more with them throughout the year.

Sculpture: If you could change anything about the contemporary art world, what would it be?
NK: Accessibility. I would like to see more engagement with the public, more openness towards those who are interested in learning but might not yet know much.

The Sculpture Park’s second edition runs through November 1, 2019.