As soon as you enter the revamped Grand by GRT lobby, you are surrounded by all things beautiful and unique. From the custom made glass lights from Delhi-based Klove on the ceiling— meant to remind one of temple bells—to the Indian restaurant, J Hind, which is replete with pop-art by Krsna Mehta of IndiaCircus, to each floor having separately-themed works by artists Muralidharan Alagar, Manoharan Natarajan and G Raman. When the decision was taken to redo the place after the floods, there was a conscious shift from business hotel to a boutique one—with a contemporary touch catering to a new target audience, COO Vikram Cotah tells me. The opening of the Art Bistro (in place of the earlier restaurant, Azulia) was an extension of this idea.
Walking me through the soon-to-be-launched 50-seater cafe-cum-gallery, Cotah tells me about the plans they have for the space, which will also be made available for niche events (such as wine tastings). “We will have pop-up restaurants with chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor or Vikas Khanna,” he says, adding that the bistro will also have a carefully-curated menu of teas and single origin coffees and a range of hors d’oeuvres. Called ‘art on a platter’, these small bites will have varying themes—from Punjabi street food to Japanese cuisine. Also on the cards are meet-and-greet events with celebrities (filmmakers, musicians, authors) and a host of cultural events, like standup comedy nights, theatre productions and art appreciation workshops.
Journalist and founder of Vanjula’s Art Atrium, Sujatha Narayanan, along with her partner, Devasena Subramaniam, has curated the art works for the bistro. “This is one place that will exhibit, display, sell,” she says, adding that the idea is to make art affordable and accessible. With price tags ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 5,00,000, the space will have renowned painters and upcoming artists and sculptors showcasing their works. “It’s not going to be elitist. We want art to be commercial not just in terms of money, but in terms of reach. I want art to be mass. Like a Rajini film. And for that there must be emotion, colour and form,” Narayanan states, explaining how she spends time with individual artists to understand their styles and markets for curating purposes. Right now you can find artist Viswam’s abstract oils and Veera Santhanam’s acrylic Tree of Life, Kamadhenu and other works in the space, with sculptures expected from Kumbakonam.
— Simar Bhasin