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

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