Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.
From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.
– The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore
Established in 2013, Swaraj is an archive created to document, preserve and showcase the art of Mr. Vijay Kumar Aggarwal’s family collection.
Mr. Aggarwal inherited the passion of collecting from his father, Seth Jai Prakash, who built an impressive collection of Kalighats, Bengal School paintings, and a wide range of British Indian prints during his lifetime. The collection also included some rare vintage China and cut glass, old wooden artefacts and antique furniture, all of which was acquired during Seth Jai Prakash’s frequent visits to Calcutta. Over the years, a large number of the collectibles which were housed in the various hotels and residencies bought by Seth Mukund Lal and Seth Jai Prakash in Mussoorie, Dehradun, Bombay, Calcutta and Ghaziabad were handed over to Mr. Aggarwal for the archive.
A patron of the arts for over 40 years, Mr. Aggarwal has silently pursued his passion for the visual medium through his travels and life spent in India and overseas. His former years from 1960 to 1965 were spent in the US where he studied at Columbia University and then worked as a project engineer. It was during this time that he was first exposed to international art. This was followed by a 20-year stint with Marc Rich (renamed Glencore), an international commodity trading firm with offices in over 40 countries.
As his exposure and knowledge of the arts developed, so did the urge to collect and gradually, a small collection of books, prints, paintings and artefacts developed which, added to his father’s collection, was to form the foundation of Mr. Aggarwal’s present collection. With regular visits to galleries and artists’ studios in the UK and all over India, he observed developments in art supporting emerging talent, simultaneously focusing on building a collection of works by earlier Bengal school artists. Today, Swaraj houses a commendable number of artworks with at least one work of almost every Indian artist from the pre-independence to the post-independence era.
The mission of the archive is to promote the arts by sharing the collection with scholars, academicians and art lovers for the purpose of research through letters, photographs, books and paintings on Indian art.
We aim to hold periodic exhibitions, seminars and talks to explore India’s history by means of the visual evidence in paintings. Through various initiatives, Swaraj will support schools to introduce art to the children and establish art appreciation as an integral part of their education.