A VISION KING SIZE
Monish Bali brings to the capital an art retreat, that showcases stunning art pieces that were never seen before
Imet Monish Bali, the MD of Mount Shivalik Breweries Ltd, after many years. He was still his robust self, talking straight and to the point without giving words any extra flourish. But the museum that he has opened recently in New Delhi, is a display that makes people awe struck. The 60 stunning objects on display take forward his personal liking of things larger-than-life. Maybe it has to do with the exposure to the lifestyle that he has had since his childhood. He belongs to a family that has a long lineage of distinguished businessmen and industrialists who were instrumental in setting up the first breweries and distilleries in the country. “My family is well-known and quite renowned in the liquor industry and I am extremely proud of where I come from and everything I have learnt and seen because of them. Growing up in the fabulously decadent eras of the 60s to the 80s showed me how to live king size while also imbibing in me the knowledge of how art and design can be created and experienced. I owe
the honing of my aesthetic sense to my family. Many years of travelling the world, sampling new and beautiful experiences, meeting varied people from the art universe and growing up in my childhood home surrounded by massive works of art – have all created a lasting impression on me and germinated all these ideas that are now displayed at El Garbo.” El Garbo is Spanish for panache and poise. The idea behind its inception was to seek a solution to the city’s lack of free, surrealist art spaces. It was created in order to allow the viewer to dive into a dream-like world, full of larger-than-life collectibles, sculptures and installations which until now could only be imagined but not experienced. He avoided sticking to a fixed formula or theme. The varied range of products — rugs, paintings, sculptures, centrepieces, furniture, and exclusive handmade vintage art — is a result of this. “El Garbo is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, hence we designed it like a Spanish countryside home, so that it makes one forget they are actually in the capital. We wanted to create an art paradise in the heart of the city,” says the 51-year-old art aficionado. It is not just the creation but the creativity that has beautifully married art with functionality that makes you look at art with new respect. They have recreated vintage automobiles, for example, as fashionable furniture. Then there are dining tables that double up as pool tables, a cello that can be used to store things. “If I happened to have an idea or discovered an idea that I thought would look visually spectacular, I had to have it made for El Garbo. Therefore, I always make what I like! I have always been very passionate about beauty, luxury and design, and love commissioning and collecting artworks.” It is not just the way functionality that has been weaved in that makes you look up, it is also the huge sculptures with fine detailing. There is one full grown lion sculpted out of a single block of black stone weighing 1000 kilos. Then there is another sculpture – The
Skull – with over 4.5 lakh beads of stainless steel. Size matters in Bali’s collection. And it is not easy. “The first piece we ever made was the Horse Head, and creating something of that size with proper detailing was very difficult, and we had to change multiple design teams till we got it right. We wanted the horse to look as realistic as possible and we didn’t want to settle for something that was merely beautiful, we wanted it to be infused with character and poise – even if it meant redoing it to get the right size and look.” When you have a vision, the most crucial part is to see to it that it takes the kind of shape that you envisaged and for that, Bali left no stone unturned. “The most difficult part of the design process was sourcing the correct artisans to translate my vision and bring it to life – no matter how large or small a piece.” His effort can be seen behind some unique swords and gears such as The Gladiator Helmet and Sword. “The manufacturers who made them for the movie, The Gladiator (Russell Crowe starrer 2000 epic), made these for me. These are original pieces. It was difficult to get them but I managed,” says Bali with a smile. And smile he should, for his efforts are being recognised and appreciated by people who matter. “The response has been remarkable. From influencers like Sachin Tendulkar, who flew down to the city for a special private viewing, to eminent Bollywood stars of the likes of Bobby Deol, Jimmy Shergill and Mugdha Godse – who also happen to be good friends, everyone keeps giving us the feedback and support we need to keep going. And of course we hold buyers in extremely high regard too. Their input and appreciation has also been extremely encouraging. We have been flooded with requests from all over the world to create an El Garbo in other cities too, however our primary concern is constantly improving our existing space and putting the wheel in motion for exciting developments to take place in the future. You’ll just have to wait and watch how it unfolds,” Bali signs off.
Monish Bali at El Garbo