Luxury Showplace chats to Mrs Anita Choudhrie, the founder of The Stellar International Art Foundation and a leading philanthropist. Anita founded her own charity, Path to Success in London twelve years ago, and has since supported causes all around the world.
What kindled your interest in art?
Art has been very important to me for as long as I can remember, and throughout the course of my life, I have taken every opportunity I can to support artists and collect exceptional pieces. This passion really started to gather pace in the 1970s, when my husband and I began purchasing more works of art and forming close friendships with some of the foremost contemporary artists in the world. This eventually culminated in the establishment of the Stellar Art Foundation in 2008.
Tell us a little more about Stellar.
Stellar comprises over 600 works dating from the late 19th Century to the present day, including International artists and ranging from paintings to sculptures. It distinguishes on individual talent rather than region and from the outset, the collection contained European, Russian, American and Indian Art from masters including Picasso, Renoir, Husain, Warhol, Anisha Kapoor and Damien Hirst.
The uniqueness of the Foundation lies in its commissioning and acquiring of complete series from within the Artists’ oeuvres. By securing complete bodies of work by the Artists, the Foundation preserves their legacies within the collection. Stellar has one of the most noteworthy and largest private collections of work by one of Delhi’s most accomplished contemporary artists – Paresh Maity.
Is your collection purely for pleasure, or do you view art as a financial investment?
I don’t think you can ignore the broader context of Art being viewed increasingly across the globe as a valuable investment. In comparison to the volatile stock markets, Art is a non-correlated asset unaffected by the financial or stock markets, which makes it appealing as an investment.
However, I tend towards viewing art more holistically. The true power of art lies in its ability to encourage multiculturalism and diversity. It is a bridge between cultures. As an Indian woman, I was exposed to a spectrum of different cultures that made me who I am today and I have always been passionate about exposing cultural and social issues through the medium of art, raising political and social issues and provoking questions.
Why are you supporting women in the art world?
According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 78 percent of galleries represent more men than women, despite 51 per cent of visual artists being female. This statistic highlights the issue of gender equality in the arts and consolidates why we need to advance feminism within the art world and widen the ‘cultural gaze’. Championing female empowerment within the arts will help to bring us a step closer to embracing gender equality across the board.
Your desire to effect change extends beyond the world of art into philanthropy, can you tell us more about that?
My grandfather was the person who really inspired my interest in philanthropy, and when I was a student at Delhi University I began supporting local campaigns. I have been deeply passionate about charitable work ever since, and have strived to dedicate much of my life to philanthropy, as I believe we all should.
So what kind of charitable projects are you involved in?
Educational and disability causes are very close to my heart. In 2005 I decided to set up my own charity, Path to Success. We’ve just launched our newest and most exciting campaign, Path to Tokyo 2020, which will provide financial support for female athletes in disability sports who are training to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020. This is a really special cause, some of the women we are supporting have achieved incredible things through sheer talent, determination and hard work. I’m really proud that we can champion them to help them fulfil their potential. Whether in art, sports, or any walk of life, enabling people to reach their full potential gives me real satisfaction.
And finally, what’s your next big project?
There is always something exciting just around the corner, and my focus is now turning to Path to Success’s major fundraiser of the year, the Wheelchair Basketball Challenge 2018. It’s a wonderful, challenging event. We invite companies to enter teams of able-bodied contestants into the tournament. They are then coached and trained by GB Paralympians before playing each other to decide who will be the corporate Wheelchair Basketball champion. The atmosphere is always collaborative and competitive, and it’s a unique opportunity for people to learn new skills from international sports stars who have competed on the global stage. Everybody is welcome so get in touch and enter!