Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An international show that analyzes India’s photographic evolution

Pushpamala N, Ketaki Sheth, Prashant Panjiar, Anita Khemka, Mahendra Sinh, Sunil Gupta, Anup Mathew Thomas, Gauri Gill and Nikhil Chopra among others feature at a major photographic show conceptualized by ARTIUM (Vitoria-Gasteiz) and Palau de la Virreina (Barcelona).

Lluisa Ortínez and Devika Daulet-Singh, the curators of the exhibition, have selected over 180 works to analyze Indian photographic evolution through the portrait. Works featuring in ‘The Self and the Other’ are connected in their celebration of the staged image and invalidate any assertion of realism. They together offer a close view of day-to-day life from a new angle.

The participating artists reveal their fascination for the concept of identity in varied formats that range from poetic allegory to the representation of stereotypes of popular culture. While the self-portraits are an enactment of roles essentially drawn from the experiences and imagination, portraits of the ‘other’ rely on the complicity and collaboration of the subjects so as to arrive at some extent of resemblance of the ‘other’ Self.

Providing a prospective to the works on view, the curatorial essay mentions: “The 90s witnessed some tectonic shifts. The essential instability of this period instigated artists and photographers to react and make works challenging the status quo. Economically and politically India was entering unfamiliar terrain and the social fabric of life began to alter quite dramatically. It is against this backdrop that the exhibition is set in a quest to engage with the personal and cultural identity of a young nation.”

While individual identity can be perceived through different constructs of the Self, it is not easier to ignore the representation of the ‘Other’. This is essential for the purpose of understanding the cultural identity and aspirations of a larger set of people. In fact, the process has played a major role in the crystallization of opinion and memory of masses.

The subtitle, ‘Portraiture in Contemporary Indian Photography’ alludes to the prism through which the disturbances and dichotomies pervading the complex social fabric of life in the country is viewed by its well known photographers and artists.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The show of the year 2009: ‘India Xianzai’

Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in association with Seven Art Limited, ICIA (Institute of Contemporary Indian Art) and ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) unveiled a grand show of Indian contemporary art. Entitled ‘India Xianzai’ (India Now), it showcased probably one of the largest ever collections from the country displayed in China.

The ambitious and meticulous curatorial exercise was an outcome of thorough research on Indian contemporary art undertaken by Alexander Keefe and Diana Freundl. The exhibition was based on the premise that India’s rich culture and history has inspired artists, not only within India, but also those residing abroad.

In a way, ‘India Xianzai’ was an examination of various processes, narrative structures and aesthetic strategies focusing on the question of culture as an agency in artistic expression. Importantly, this was not just any exhibit but a museum show.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) became the first major art museum in China to unveil a grand show of Indian contemporary art. Spelling out the strategy of the museum, its Chairman and Director Samuel Kung stated: “Under the city's umbrella of influence, we hope to act as a catalyst in the arts arena, as well as an interpreter in the growing cultural dialogue between China and the world.”

The works on view collectively provided a timely glimpse of the growing presence and importance of Indian contemporary art. They strove to act as a link between what constitutes Indian-ness in the context of contemporary art and today's 'global' community.

Putting it in a broader context, an accompanying note mentioned: “India is undergoing a phenomenal transformation as the country develops, and new cities escalate into modern metropolises. However, this rapid expansion has not hindered the impulse towards international standards, while fostering its own economic and social values.”

Snapshots 2009: Art world beyond India

Collectors in response to the economic crisis selected the best 20th-century classics and Old Masters. They ignored some contemporary art even as prices halved and sales dropped. Here are some snapshots of the international art world in 2009.

* The Renaissance painter Raphael’s chalk drawing topped auction sales in 2009. The drawing sold at Christie’s London, setting an auction record for a work on paper. It sold for $47.5 million, thus beating a Matisse still life, which made an artist record of $45.6 million.

* Sotheby’s London sale in February tallied $26.15 million, the lowest at its Part I contemporary auctions since 2005 in the city. Christie’s International failed to sell Bacon and Rothko. Marc Newson’s aluminum ‘Lockheed Lounge’ chair sold at Phillips de Pury & Co in April for £1.1 million, an auction record for contemporary design.

* David Hockney’s portrait of philanthropist Betty Freeman got $7.9 million May 13:at Christie’s NY, setting an auction record for the artist. Their $93.7 million evening tally represented almost a 73 per cent fall from May 2008. The previous evening, Sotheby’s took $47 million, down almost 87 per cent from the $362 million auction just a year ago when just a single Bacon’s 1976 triptych fetched $86.3 million.

* Dealers reported renewed demand for contemporary art at the Art Basel fair. A Takashi Murakami diamond-encrusted sculpture went for $2 million at the VIP preview.

* A new Leonardo da Vinci drawing was publicly announced October. A chalk, pen & ink work of a girl in profile sold for $19,000 in the late 1990s at auction, was examined by forensic expert Peter Paul Biro, who found a fingerprint that corresponded to one on his painting St Jerome. London-based dealer Simon Dickinson valued at £100 million.

* An Andy Warhol painting of 200 $1 bills got $43.8 million at Sotheby’s in NY in November, whereas a Rembrandt portrait fetched $32.9 million. A Yves Saint Laurent owned Art Deco chair took $28 million.

* Shanghai-based collector Liu Yiqian forked nearly 170 million yuan ($25 million) in November at Poly International Auction Co in Beijing, a record for a Chinese painting.

Friday, December 25, 2009

How the year was for moderns and contemporaries?

Summing up the year gone by, The Business Standard art expert Kishore Singh has just written a comprehensive column. Here are some of his sharp views on artists – moderns and contemporaries – as far as the year 2009 is concerned.

* The Dodiyas, both Atul and Anju, have did not have such a great year, but the talent is still there. So Watch out for their next moves.

* Late Souza surprised many with the prices he fetched in the recent Saffronart auction. India’s artist with ‘the most chutzpah’ is never out of fashion.

* Subodh Gupta continued to remain India’s face of contemporary art, especially in the West. You may criticize the cliché that his utensils have become, but he has proved that his work is more than capable of outlasting the meltdown as well as the potentially embarrassing situation arising from collectors who paid substantially more at a hype-inflated peak.

* M F Husain, in or out of India, continues to make news and court controversy. Whether or not he makes it to the India Art Summit, collectors were still willing to pay top-rupee for the of India’s most consistently selling artist’s works.

* London’s Anish Kapoor, India’s great export has never shown in India. But at the India Art Summit this year, we got a glimpse of two of his show-stoppers. One of them sold for a reported Rs 1 crore at least.

* Jagannath Panda at one point was the artist selling fast. He was criticized for repeating himself, but his re-invention this year is less than inspired. But is it a new beginning? Manjunath Kamath, meanwhile, is someone you need to look out for. Also, watch out for Rashid Rana with his explosive talent.

* This is the last year S H Raza spent in France. He hopes to shift back to India now and he continues to remain a favorite with collectors. Prices for Manjit Bawa, as many had predicted peaked.

* Sculpture had its outing with two major shows — Paresh Maity’s in Mumbai where the artist surprised many of us with motorcycle parts as his medium and K S Radhakrishnan’s in Delhi where most loved and some said they were tired of his teeming world of figures.

* The highly talented artist, Tyeb Mehta, passed away. No one else has probably painted as minimally but with as much intensity and emotion as this great master. His prices, and few canvases, are bound to be blockbusters.

* Chintan Upadhyay refuses to go away. His unsettling 'babies' stay with you long after you’ve seen them at a show. T Vaikuntam, the Hyderabad-based artist, redeemed himself by painting much larger than before. Prices moved up accordingly.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How was the year 2009 for India’s art industry?

According to the senior art columnist of The Business Standard, Kishore Singh, 2009 wasn’t a memorable year for India’s art industry, but it’s already correcting course, he stated. Here are some of his observations and recap of the significant events.

* Art funds received a bad name this year because the promise of astronomical returns evaporated and their payback time seemed flawed.

* Bodhi Art, gallerist Amit Judge’s ambitious venture, collapsed. In hindsight, most see it as a flawed model of a gallery that grew too fast. But while it lasted, it did bring in a specialization not seen in the art world before. Meanwhile, Espace, Renu Modi’s eponymous gallery, celebrated twenty years with a spectacular show, Lo Real Maravilloso.

* The India Art Summit did revive the fortunes of a sluggish art . There were no edgy works, no mega deals, yet its success caught most galleries unaware. They hastily put together shows to get collectors back to doing what they do best: spend on art.

* India claimed some of its lost space in both in the miniatures, as well as in the antiquities market and other art forms that had been drowned out in the recent past by a more vibrant contemporary market. It is now time to reclaim both pride and prices in that genre!

* A consignment meant for auction at the Taj Mahal Hotel escaped the 26/11 inferno, yet the year proved less lucky for Neville Tuli. While his Osian’s continued its expansion across lines with great ideas, 2009 has proved controversial. For the record, he dismisses these as rumors, but the market is not convinced.

* Waswo X Waswo exists. Watch the space where he travels in 2010.· After the peak of 2008, prices fell in 2009. Most people say it’s a good thing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Indian art shows at Lunds Konsthall of Sweden

Lunds Konsthall of Sweden presents simultaneous exhibitions that offer distinct perspectives on the art and cinema of the Indian Subcontinent in recent history and today. The exhibits are ‘Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism’ and ‘Raqs Media Collective: Steps Away from Oblivion’.

Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–90) is regarded as one of the most important Indian artists of her generation, and her paintings, drawings and photographs, produced from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, are now being recognized as a key body of work within the modernist canon. She was influenced by an earlier generation of Indian abstract artists such as V.S. Gaitonde, and she is sometimes compared to Agnes Martin or Kazimir Malevich.

Her uncompromisingly abstract drawings from the 1970s onwards deserve to be considered on their own terms, but they also invoke a range of cultural references. This becomes particularly clear in her photos, in which meticulously cropped details of historical architecture and everyday life create aesthetic links to both contemporary culture and an Islamic visual heritage.

The exhibition brings together rarely seen drawings, paintings and photographs with unique archival material from Nasreen Mohamedi’s studio. It is curated by Suman Gopinath and Grant Watson and organized and initiated by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA).
On the other hand, Raqs Media Collective ‘Steps Away from Oblivion’ is a circuit of films, installed on screens and as projections in a confined space, that invoke different rhythms of repose and transformation in today’s India.

The Raqs Media Collective have invited eight documentary filmmakers (Debkamal Ganguly, Ruchir Joshi, Kavita Pai & Hansa Thapliyal, M.R. Rajan, Priya Sen, Surabhi Sharma, Vipin Vijay) to rework key sequences in their earlier films.

The installation was originally shown within the context of Indian Highway, a traveling exhibition of contemporary art from India first presented at the Serpentine Gallery, London, in 2008. Raqs Media Collective is a group of internationally active artists and curators (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta) based in Delhi.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Galleries from India at Art Basel Miami

Art Basel Miami Beach is considered the most important art event not only in the US, but also internationally.

An introductory note to it mentions:
“It’s a cultural and social highlight for the Americas. As the sister event of Switzerland's Art Basel, the most prestigious art show worldwide for the past 40 years, Art Basel Miami Beach combines an international selection of top galleries with an exciting program of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture, design. Every year, a greater number of art collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts from around the world participate in Art Basel Miami Beach, making it the favorite winter meeting place for the international art world.

"Top-quality exhibitions in the museums of South Florida and special programs for art collectors and curators also help make the event a special time for encountering art. The exhibiting galleries are among the world's most respected art dealers, offering exceptional pieces by both renowned artists and cutting-edge newcomers. Special exhibit sections feature performance art, public art projects and video art. The show will be a vital source for art lovers, allowing them to both discover new developments in contemporary art and experience rare museum-calibre artworks.”
This year, nearly 300 galleries took part in the fair. There were three galleries from India as well. Their aim was to access more clients and draw more exposure for the artists. Here’s a look at what they offered at this major international art show.

Nature Morte along with Bose Pacia showcased the works of artists Aditya Pande, Radhika Khimji and Suhasini Kejriwal. According to Peter Nagy, the section of the fair they were in (Art Nova) dictated that they had to show only three with something in common. Accordingly, all three participants approached painting from the perspective of new techniques and strategies like collage, installation and digital media. Chemould Prescott Road showed the works of Rashid Rana, whereas Bangalore based Gallery Ske showcased the works of artists Avinash Veeraraghavan and Sudarshan Shetty.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book of the year

Driven by their desire to chart a unique course, authors Purrshottam Bhaggeria and Pavan Malhotra have conceptualized and penned this captivating coffee table book. They take the readers along onto a fascinating journey into the exclusive world of discerning collectors and their eclectic collection. The book makes a honest attempt to highlight their definitive aesthetic vision, deep-rooted philanthropy, support and commitment to Indian art and artists.

As Indian contemporary art shines globally, ‘Elite Collectors of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art’ by authors (Publishers: Elite Media; Price: Rs 15,000 for a limited edition of 2,000 numbered copies) has turned the spotlight on renowned collectors such as Parmeshwar Godrej, Suresh Neotia, Tina Ambani, Harsh Goenka, Rajshree Pathy, Sangeeta Jindal, Abhishek Poddar among others), some are less well known Rakesh Agarwal, Mahesh Chandra, Mahinder Tak, Ashwani Kakkar, Malvinder Mohan Singh, Prashant Tuslyan, Sanjay Lalbhai, Rajiv Jehangir Chaudhuri and Dinesh Thacker.

Then there are some international collectors like Masanori Fukuoka and the late Chester Herwitz who find a mention in this first comprehensive tome on art collectors. Barring a few notable exceptions like Anupam Poddar, Lekha Poddar, Nitin Bhayana, Priya Paul, and the de Boers, this attractive coffee table book reflects the passion of avid art collectors.

The publication is a sincere and research based exercise to provide a glimpse into the rich collections of some of India’s top collectors, and their associations with the artists. ‘Elite Collectors of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art’ opens a window onto a wonderful world of passionate collectors. It introduces the readers to their eclectic and engaging collection.

‘Elite Collectors of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art’ is worth collecting for it showcases selected and favorite works of art of each collector, symbolizing their discerning eye and eclectic tastes.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

‘Five Position Papers on the Republic’

‘Detour’ is a double-layered title. At one level, it refers to the manner in which one must sometimes go away to come back, move away from the object of love, attention or ideological commitment, in order to more fully understand and articulate it. Likewise, the photographic image registers a detour: it is generated at a remove from experienced reality, is born in the
photographer’s imagination, then connects back with the circumstances that sparked it off….”
This is how a curatorial note by art critic Ranjit Hoskote introduces a new exhibit at Mumbai based Gallery Chemould. It features artists Dayanita Singh, Sonia Jabbar, Ram Rahman, Ravi Agarwal and Samar Jodha Elaborating on the background of the show, Ranjit Hoskote notes in his essay: “When Shireen Gandhy of Chemould Prescott Road invited me to curate an exhibition commemorating the centennial of Gandhi’s seminal work, Hind Swaraj (1909), I responded with enthusiasm. " He adds:
"I have turned to this complex text many times in the last 25 years, and to other key texts from the vibrant intellectual landscape of late-colonial India. By turns illuminating, exasperating and inspiring, these utopian and redemptive writings remind us that ‘nationalism’ was not a single script; that the India these thinkers envisioned was, and will always be, a work in progress.

"This centennial is an occasion to consider whether the history of postcolonial India has been, not a linear progression towards new life-themes, but a roundabout return to the fundamental questions Hind Swaraj asks. Has post-1947 India been no more than a detour that brings us back to the debate between the two protagonists of Gandhi’s century-old dialogue: the Editor, embodying the reasoned and peaceful mode of emancipation, and the Reader, a belligerent advocate of violent revolution?

The Hind Swaraj centennial also registers six decades of independence: we pause to compare foundational text with actual outcome; we trace the directions that India, incarnating one among several geographical translations of the conceptual Hind of Gandhi’s title, has taken."
In this context, the detour is a productive trope of digression, self-interrogation and re-dedication.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two decades of a rewarding art journey

On eve of his new show at Mumbai’s Gallery BMB, Bose Krishnamachari explains the secret of his stunning portfolio of nearly six hundred artworks that he has collected over a period of nearly five years.

Throwing light on his passion for collecting art in a free-wheeling interview to Jigna P of The Hindustan Times, the versatile artist shares the nuances of this exciting and enriching process. A show of his works is also being held to mark 20 years of his career in which he has established himself as an artist, collector, curator and, a gallerist of high caliber.

He recounts the first artwork he collected was done by Professor Ingle from Sir J. J. School of Art. He had rusticated the artist while studying there. Later, he bought another work at a sale of 1,000 ink drawings while studying at Goldsmith in the UK.

He did not have enough money then, still he bought it for nearly 60 pounds. Since then he has expanded his collection. Explaining how he has managed to do that, the versatile art personality states: “I believe in Karl Marx’s famous statement that ‘man is his own maker’. I like to make things happen with my dedication and hard work. I do not really plan my career. Nothing else except marriage was planned in my life. I’m not a dreamer. If I don’t have money and I want something, I earn the money and collect it.”

His message for art collectors is be generous with your passion and love. Make things happen. He thinks galleries should try to educate people about collecting art – what to invest in and what not because wrong suggestions can make things go wrong.Do check out the celebrated artist-curator-collector’s monumental LaVA (Laboratory of Visual Arts) project at Mumbai’s Gallery BMB unveils to mark two fulfilling decades of his art career.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Indian art market showing signs of recovery

Success of the winter 2009 auction by online auctioneer Saffronart indicates a return of confidence in the art market, a news report in the leading publication Times of India, quoting PTI claims.

The auction also included sculptures, paintings and drawings by several renowned contemporary artists like Raqib Shaw, Jagannath Panda, Subodh Gupta and Anju Dodiya all of whom did well. An untitled canvas by late Manjit Bawa went for a whopping Rs1.7 crore. This set a new record for the legendary artist from the country for his work.

The auction house revealed that the world record price achieved for his work was against an upper estimate of Rs 90 lakh. Importantly, the auction managed to gross Rs 20 crore by selling good 78 of the 100 lots that were on offer for bidding.

Nearly 62 percent of the works easily exceeded their pre-sale estimates. Along with Manjit Bawa, other modernists such as F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Jagdish Swaminathan and Akbar Padamsee led the sale with top prices. The auction also included sculptures, paintings and drawings by several renowned contemporary artists like Raqib Shaw, Jagannath Panda, Subodh Gupta and Anju Dodiya.

M. F. Husain's 'Untitled' work fetched Rs1.4 crore against Rs83 lakh, an estimated upper price. Subodh Gupta's 2005 untitled work led the satisfying sales among contemporaries by grossing Rs1.2 crore. This was against an upper estimate of Rs90 lakh.

With an average realized lot price of over Rs 25 lakh in comparison to just Rs10.5 lakh six months ago, these strong results clearly suggest the market sentiment has significantly improved, Saffronart CEO and co-founder Dinesh Vazirani was quoted as saying. Clearly, this is one of the most successful sales of the year. The better than expected results of the auction continue the upward trajectory of the Indian art scene.

Husain and Raza show together in London

There was a time when Husain and Raza could not even afford a cup of tea worth two paisa. They shared it from the same cup. Decades later, India's top progressive artists still shine brightly on the international art scene with name, fame and glory.

Depicting their grit and determination, Anubha Sawhney Joshi of The Times News writes: “Both had fire in their belly. They had a mission to demolish the then school of thought, which suppressed everything Indian. And they actually did! Both Husain and Raza, the last of India's living greats, are now settled in countries not their own. However, they continue to paint the world with the glorious colors of India."

M.F. Husain’s ‘Mother Teresa’ series and ‘The Five Rays of Raza’ have been unveiled for public viewing in London. The showcase has moved to Kings Road Gallery courtesy Tanya Baxter Contemporary.

‘The Five Rays of Raza’ shows his new works done in the last couple of years. It is in essence the culmination of seven decades of artistic endeavor. On the other hand, 18 hand-finished prints inspired by Mother Teresa series are a rare treat for art lovers. Mesmerized by this extraordinary persona, and fabulously framed in gothic arches, these iconic works get transformed into stained glass windows. These semi-abstracted works measure at least six feet in height. The series has not been shown in the UK before.

The managing director of Barclays Wealth International Private Bank, Michael Demirel, commented: “It’s a great pleasure to host such a notable exhibit of two highly respected individuals within the contemporary Indian art world. I’m certain this event will be of great interest to both art lovers and collectors alike.”

Christie’s will be sponsoring lecture series on both Indian artists as well as hosting a special program during the exhibitions. The curatorial team comprises Michel Imbert considered an authority on S.H Raza and Raisa Husain.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Indian art is moving far beyond its shores

The year 2009 has witnessed Indian art being showcased from Vienna to Japan and Berlin to New York.

Leading galleries worldwide such as Victoria Miro, Hauser and Wirth and Thomas Gibson in London, Vienna’s Gallery Krinzinger and Berlin based Gallerie Christian Hosp are hosting shows by Indian artists. Simultaneously, Sotheby’s auction of international contemporary art in November in NY had a Jitish Kallat’s work, ‘Dawn Chorus 17’, among many instances of Indian artists finding a wider representation globally.

Here are snapshots of the recent international shows of contemporary Indian art:

• Mori Museum in Japan hosted a show ‘Chalo India’. It was curated by Akiko Miki. This comprehensive exhibition presented an enchanting view of contemporary Indian art.• Hauser and Wirth is showcasing Subodh Gupta’s works.

• Thomas Gibson hosts Raqib Shaw and Rina Banerjee’s works on paper.

• Gallery Krinzinger hosts a group show of various Indian contemporary artists. The show is titled ‘Republic of Illusions’. Curated by Peter Nagy, it includes works by artists such as Sheba Chhachhi, Mithu Sen, Bharat Sikka, and Dayanita Singh among others.

• Gallerie Christian Hosp has had an Asian artists’ group show, comprising a large work by Delhi-based artist Anita Dube.

Confirming the trend to Ashoke Nag of The ET, director of the Mori Museum, Fumio Nanjo, noted: “It goes without saying that the cultural, urban and economic, developments occurring in the country today make it among the most interesting and dynamic nations in the world.”

Much research went into planning the exhibition, spanning over 60 visits to artists’ studios. Ultimately, over 100 artworks by 27 artists and artist groups - many of them new - were selected. They reflect a transformation happening at all levels of today’s Indian society and shed light on lifestyles and hopes of new-age India, providing a fascinating indication of its diverse popular and urban cultures and also address prevailing social issues, the art expert noted. Clearly, Indian art is moving far beyond its shores into uncharted territories.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Indian masters ‘in search of the vernacular’

A new exhibition tries to tease out some of the complexities involved in a pattern of rejection, influence and echoing between maters from India and Western Modernism in the various ways they articulate a vernacular visual language.

Featured in a significant show ‘In Search of The Vernacular’ at Aicon Gallery, New York, are Post-Independence South Asian Masters like M. F. Husain, Jamini Roy, Abindranath Tagore, Nadalal Bose, F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Jagdish Swaminathan, Laxma Goud, and Anjolie Ela Menon.

Elaborating on the theme, a curatorial note states, “Since the beginning of the 20th century, several Indian artists have articulated a vernacular visual language. It has often taken the form of taking Western art as something to be either rejected outright, or significantly altered in an effort to address an Indian vernacular.”

For example, Jamini Roy’s somewhat paradoxically, in turning away from Western Modernism, aligned himself with Modernism's stripping back of ornament in favor of line and color planes. His rejection of the then modern style of painting and his foray into the realm of Bengali folk paintings marked a new phase in the history of Indian modern art.

Abanindranath Tagore deliberately sought an indigenous style through firstly referencing the Mughal manner and subsequently through the development of a pan-Asian style. Nandalal Bose played a leading role in the renaissance of art in India.

Several other artists including those belonging to the Progressive Artists' Group (PAG) utilized Western Modernism yoked to Indian subject matter. They looked toward Western Modernism, even while trying to make it India- specific, often foregrounding rural inhabitants of the country as a way to mirror its life.

Icons of Indian culture through the ages seek to capture the quintessence of M. F. Husain’s subjects, such as Mother Teresa, Krishna and the goddess Saraswati. F. N. Souza’s repertoire of subjects covers nudes, icons of Christianity, still life and landscape, all rendered boldly in a frenzied distortion of form. Breaking away from frames like nation and specific locations in time and space, S. H. Raza’s body of work is trans-cultural in its appeal. Laxma Goud is recognized for his graceful, yet powerful line drawings, etchings and watercolors.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chitra Ganesh’s thought-provoking social agenda

Chitra Ganesh’s work is a mix of separate productive moves that work in a perfect harmony. Even while firmly rooted in a Western, postmodern discourse, her cultural references allow her to convey the proven principle of a multiplicity as a spirit that draws together.

Her new wall creation is on view at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center located at Long Island City, NY. It is considered among the largest and the oldest non-profit contemporary art institutions in the US that acts as a catalyst for new ideas, trends, and discourses in contemporary art.

The work at P.S.1 lobby by this versatile and innovative Indian artist features elements in India and Sumi inks, washes of color, cut paper and found objects such as plastic fruits, fake hair, and sequins.

She elaborates: “I've always been amazed by how dreams and their repressions tend to shape personal and social crises. My photography, sculptural and installation work is largely inspired by mythological narratives, erased moments in South Asian history, lyric poetry, present day imperialism and queer politics.

“Taking these tales and integrating them with my own mythic imagery, the hybrid world of sculpture and drawing articulate both psychic transformation and historical conflict. Much of my visual vocabulary engages an old Indian idiom, which describes women who transgress social norms - the term junglee.”

The piece is inspired by the character in Alan Moore’s 1980s graphic novel ‘Watchmen’, The Silhouette. The original superhero in the famous comic book series gets discriminated against and murdered for coming out as a lesbian. The work denotes links between myth, ritual, and high and low culture apart from connections between continents and countries.

Chitra Ganesh like in her past installations looks to excavate and circulate buried narratives typically excluded from the official canon.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spectrums of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art

Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Embassy of India in UAE, presented 'Spectrum'. It was the first official collaborative exhibition of modern and contemporary Indian art in Abu Dhabi.

The exhibition was jointly curated by Dr. Saryu Doshi and Ms. Pheroza Godrej. A curatorial note stated:
“The show features a significant collection of Indian art from 1947 to the present time. The exhibition showcases the artworks of eighty-five artists and includes paintings, sculpture, installations, photographs, new media and video. These artworks represent artists who have charted new trajectories, experimented with conventional idioms while evolving a new vocabulary or carved a niche for themselves on the International art scene by expressing themselves in a global language.

“The art works represent Indian artists’ concerns and preoccupations. Their works project social, political and cultural issues. Also, they show that many artists have drawn on traditional Indian idioms for motifs and devices to enhance their own pictorial language. The diverse and innovative imagery of several young artists crosses boundaries with its universal appeal. Spectrum will not only serve as an introduction to prevalent trends in Indian art but also promote deeper understanding of a different aesthetic.”

Art produced over the last six decades in the country was displayed at this exhibition held at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. As many as 106 paintings and sculptures of 81 modern Indian artists (works from 1947 to 2007) were showcased.
A newspaper report quoted Talmiz Ahmad, Indian ambassador, as saying: “A large number of young people in the Gulf are not as familiar with various aspects of Indian culture as their parents and grand-parents were. The artists are from various parts of India and different age groups, so they depict the diversity of India. "Apart from the achievements of the country they are also ruthlessly reacting to the contemporary Indian problems like poverty and exploitation."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Giving an outlet to innate creative processes

An article in Mumbai edition of The DNA India by writer Riddhi Doshi put the spotlight on Harsh Goenka on eve of the annual RPG art camp organized since 1991.

Elaborating on the event, Harsh Goenka was quoted as saying, "We have many senior artists this time like Anjolie Ela Menon, Paresh Maity, Krishen Khanna. We have a good blend of the old-world and new-age artists this time. Also we found that most of the people we invited were very happy to come. And I really don't think that the enthusiasm is dying."

He came down strongly on the trend of organizing art camps in exotic locations like Istanbul, Rome, etc. The article mentioned him saying, "There is not much serious art discussion and learning. Learning happens only when artists see each other paint. These camps are like holiday tours are also very commercial. This is how they calculate cost - if it's a group of 15 people, you pay for stay and travel which comes to Rs1 lakh per person, the total being Rs15 lakh. Then you demand two works from each artist the value of which goes up to Rs40 lakh. In the end, you have made a profit of Rs25 lakh."

To ensure that his camps are different, to begin with, he does not keep anything that the artists have created. They either sell their works during the closing or take them back with them. They leave for me a small self-portrait as a gesture.

He recounted: "Through the art camps, I have learnt to appreciate the psyche of the artist. I vividly remember artist Yusuf Arakkal who once lazed in the sun and in the swimming pool for five days. And I thought, 'what is he doing?' Sunday was the the showing of the works and Friday night he had not started working on anything. Saturday morning, I was just walking around and saw that he had finished a huge canvas. I asked him, what happened? He told me that art is not about skill alone, but about thought also…" The experience made him appreciate innate creative processes of various artists.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jewels of Modern Indian Art at MFA

Sixteen paintings by modern Indian art masters are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA).The show, entitled ‘Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art’, continues up to August 22, 2010.

A curatorial note states: “Bharat Ratna! offers a visually exciting dialogue between the evolving modernism of western art and the deeply rooted traditions of India and the multiple different approaches Indian artists took, in the aftermath of Independence, to define their own and ‘Indian’ art. On view in the MFA’s Indian Paintings and Decorative Arts Gallery, the exhibit comprises works by several of the leading members of the Progressive Artists’ Group.”

These vibrant Bharat Ratnas (literally meaning ‘Jewels of India’) are drawn from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rajiv Chaudhri. The duo has assembled some of the very best examples of post-Independence art from India. It’s the first time that a significant number of works from this renowned collection are being displayed publicly. It’s also the first major exhibit of modern Indian art in the MFA premises.

V.S. Gaitonde’s lush tonal landscape Untitled shows his attention to the nuances of light, color, and space. His manipulation of multiple thin layers of paint creates a luminous depth of hue. If M.F. Husain’s golden-toned Ganesh Darwaza (1964) points to his distinctly Indian subjects, equally vibrant is S.H. Raza’s Untitled (from the Rajasthan Series). It evokes the brilliant colors of Jain and Rajasthani miniatures in its depiction of the Indian countryside.

F.N. Souza’s ‘Man and Woman’ (1954) is more contemplative painting. This haunting work is a portrait of two saint-like figures pierced by the arrows of martyrdom. Ara’s ‘Bharata Natya’ shows the famous Indian temple dancer Ram Gopal in classical dance pose with a meticulous eye for the natural fluidity of the body, reminiscent of ancient Indian sculpture. The exhibition also includes Untitled (1960) by Avinash Chandra (1931–91), as well as the paintings by Arpita Singh and Jagdish Swaminathan.

Host of the show, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Art that feasts on Tiffin boxes

Dabbawala acts as a starter to the contemporary Indian art feast, proclaimed writer Silvia Radan of The Khaleej Times in a recent essay.

Talented artist Valay Shende’s Dabbawala was selected as an opening piece in a major show of the modern & contemporary Indian art retrospective, entitled ‘‘Spectrum’, in Abu Dhabi. The dabbawala, the tiffin box carrier is Mumbai’s highly efficient system of carrying and serving lunch to office goers.

The home cooked food, packed in a box is given to a carrier, who ensures it reaches the right person at the right time. The complexity and efficiency of the system impressed even Prince Charles so much that he invited a few dabbawalas as guests to his wedding ceremony.“

The dabbawala has been perfected to such details that some may call it a work of art, but how can it actually be translated into art, worthy of an international exhibition? The news report provides the answer by mentioning, "If you ask talented artist Valay Shende, he will tell you to create a copper and golden looking metal sculpture of a standing man in front of his bicycle, the man “dressed” in traditional Mumbai attire, made out of small watches and his bicycle packed with “boxes” in the shape of a human stomach."

The art exhibition was recently set up in a new improvised gallery at Emirates Palace.The Indian Embassy had organized it in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage as a gesture of friendship and deepening relations between Emiratis and Indians.

Incidentally, Bose Krishnamachari's ‘GHOST/TRANSMEMOIR' includes over 100 metal cans used by the city's famous delivery men of Tiffin boxes. In this compelling installation the lunch boxes are mounted on iron scaffolding and contain LCD monitors. The tangle of wires, hand straps, headphones and metal containers is a play on the indomitable spirit and energy of the people of Mumbai, a city constantly on the move.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Confidence indicator for the Indian art market improves

Art analysis firm ArtTactic’s confidence indicator for the Indian art market has more than doubled, sending positive signals to investors.

In fact, recovery in the Indian art market could occur earlier than expected, according to the latest research report released by the London-based art market analysis firm. The report suggests there is renewed confidence evident in the market that incidentally had dipped to an all-time low only six months ago.

The report holds significance since ArtTactic, set up by Anders Petterson almost a decade ago, is an internationally reputed agency. It comes up with research and commentary by combining both quantitative and qualitative tools. Its studies are backed by an in-depth knowledge of the art market’s .

ArtTactic employs analytical frameworks and methodologies for the art market often employed by economists and the financial experts. Anders Petterson, ArtTactic managing director, elaborates, “The survey sample is a cross-section of key players in the Indian art market many of whom have a long-term interest in it, and hence their answers are not driven by short-term decisions.”

Its confidence indicator for the Indian art market is now pegged just under the 50 mark, at 49. The 50 mark importantly, suggests there are an equal number of negative and positive responses on the outlook for the art market in the near term. In May, the indicator was well in the negative territory, pegged at an abysmally low number of 20.

Clearly, the market is on the threshold of an upswing in terms of investor confidence. This really is a positive indicator coupled with the Indian economy that is showing early signs of revival.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Indian art heritage is as rich as most of the established art based countries like Egypt, Greek, China, Japan, France, Italy and Spain etc.

Indian art heritage is as rich as most of the established art based countries like Egypt, Greek, China, Japan, France, Italy and Spain etc. It has a specific manifestation in the field of Indian society, art, religion and human sentiments. It touches every sphere of human being and its adaptation is so wider even simple palm leaf and rock wall speaks its merits of beauty, aesthetics and pleasure. Each part of the whole nation express the spectromic echoes of art pleasure. It links urban to a rural, layman to a super human, poor to rich but not tired of to lubricate the long passed echoes of Indian artists spirituality, rather has become an integral part of our everyday lives.Indian Traditional Art was remained in the hands of the rural artisans. They used to deal with the indigenous materials, organic and inorganic materials readily available in their locality. Art activities were well linked with our religion, ritual and everyday lives. A group of people accepted art activities as their main profession who were well known as Kalakaras, they accepted the profession from father to the son, mother to the daughter without much variation in form, style, color, pattern, design and the subject matters. They were not only the painters, sculptors and architects but had good depth on literature, texts and allied grammatical resources.
Indian art is understood through its own grammar of Rasa theory, Sadanga(six principles of Indian art), attitude to Indian art principles of image making etc. It was based on India mythology, poetry of romantic love stories, raga-raginis on the value of Indian society, religion. beauty aesthetics and pleasure. Art education is completely based on ones attachment to the process and entirely not accomplished through an art institution said Sir Baladev Moharatha, Head of Deptt. Painting (Indian Style), He said, “ Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of LIVES-LIFE of values and life of valuables, values are left aside and when values are ignored the person concerned gets devalued. While the commodification of art is a slogan all-around, some people are still there experimenting with the values of art which is beyond commercialization”.
Smt. Sailabala Nayak, Instructor Deptt. Of Painting(Indian Style) said, “ The Tradition and culture are the real identity of a civilized status or of a family. Now in the process of globalization it is difficult to protect and preserve the tradition and culture. Likewise when the student of an art institution displays a picture or submits for exhibition or competition, interestingly enough, the beholders or jury members search for modernity, then in facing the remark that the pictorial language is not readable. Such contrast opinion compels a student, sometimes, to be confused and express him/her- self in a vaguely modern way. But this should not happen”.
It seems reasonable to assume that the Indian art has the potential in terms of both artists and buyers to rival the recent gains made in the Chinese art market and to present itself as a real global participant in the international art market. However, there are some key issues that concern the potential players. These issues have to do with India’s moribund art market infrastructure, which is simply not robust enough to support a major art market. India must develop structures and professionals who can bring order to what in many cases is seeming chaos. Its rich cultural heritage should be come out in form of art works. If this chaos is allowed to continue unchecked, the long term credibility of both India's art and its artists could be irrevocably undermined.

Ashok Nayak

Sunday, November 22, 2009

‘Liminal Figures Liminal Space’ by K. S. Radhakrishnan

Celebrated sculptor K. S. Radhakrishnan's work comprises many finer elements, collated together into a giant form. One of the most noteworthy names among the new generation of sculptors he has ushered in a definitive resurgence in contemporary Indian sculpture.

A figurative sculptor, he is renowned for modeling and bronze casting technique. A new solo exhibition of sculptures by the veteran artist is on view at Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), New Delhi. His sculptures, marked for their immediacy, are an outcome of his quest for the form he spontaneously seeks and constructs, in keeping with the subject matter.

K. S. Radhakrishnan adopts neither a derivatively tribal folk style nor a referential, self-consciously avant-garde approach for his larger than life-size sculptures evoke a superhuman persona. Opting to draw from the mystique and myths of the Hindu mythology, his passion for the potency of ritual performances and dances exudes through his works.

His new exhibition, earlier held in Kolkata, and slated to be staged in his home state Kerala next, focuses on liminality, as the title suggests, “of yearning to be in another space”. It includes figures, like fireflies, that could perceived to be “collectively descending” or even perhaps ascending, from a peculiar barrel-like spot; the artist positions it as a collective wish for “evolving to a landing space” though not “a landed space” as yet.

Over the years, the sculptor has experimented with alternate sculpting mediums - Plaster of Paris, molten bronze and beeswax. The end product emanates from a tactile engagement with the varied mediums as the process of working with them itself becomes a performance.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A new series of works by Dayanita Singh

The passionate photographer acts as the story teller who does not allow a viewer to get too comfortable in what they’re seeing.

Dayanita Singh has attained international fame as an accomplished photographer. Exploring the varied possibilities and inherent limitations of color film seen in the traditional sense, without the assistance of computer manipulations or digital photography, she produced the series ‘Blue Book’.

She showcases her first color images that are set in an industrial landscape. Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke presents a new set of photographic works by the renowned New Delhi based artist photographer. This is her second solo with the gallery.

Born in New Delhi in 1961, Dayanita Singh studied at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and focused on documentary photography and photojournalism at New York’s International Center of Photography. Her largest single body of color work is ‘Dream Villa,’ in which she explores the mysteriousness of ordinary spaces that are obscured in darkness.

It’s one project mostly devoid of human presence from an artist who is associated with black and white portraits of India’s urban well-to-do families. The vacant, quiet, anonymous spaces in the series let the drama of light and shadow acquire centre stage. On the other hand, ‘Blue Book’ comprises images of industrial landscapes mostly shot across the country.

Dayanita Singh explores the color as found all through the day, examining the possibilities of color film in the traditional sense, as mentioned above.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A celebration of Paresh Maity’s creativity

The new exhibit series ‘Montage Moments Memories’ in Mumbai comprises sculptures, paintings and photographs by the prominent artist.

Considered one of India's most gifted painters, Paresh Maity is having another solo show – his 52nd- at Jehangir Art Gallery first and later at Art Musings. In a testimony to his talent, the proficient artist has won several prestigious awards, including one from the Royal Watercolor Society, London; Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata; Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata; Harmony Award, Mumbai; College of Art, Delhi and AIFACS, Delhi.

He describes ‘Montage Moments Memories’ as one of his most expansive shows that spans huge paintings (Mystic City), truly monumental sculpture series (Face to Face), massive black & white photographs (Faces of Life) and a video film on the monsoons (Kolkata to Kozhikode).

In all, there are six paintings and 12 sculptures in bronze and those made from scrap motorcycle parts. Delving into the theme of his new collation, Paresh Maity has mentioned that it goes back to his childhood memories and comprises treasured memories from a coastal town in West Bengal, Tamluk, engulfed by crystal clear water and green fields.

His sojourns across the world also form part of the memories. The artist mentions in an interview: “I have shot a film on tracing the monsoon from Mumbai to Kerala and to Kolkata."A short film that covers his life and art in the last five years or so is another attraction.

Inspired by legendary artist Pablo Picasso's experimental streak in life and art, Paresh Maity has been working with new mediums. In his twin shows, one can see a reflection of his spirit to innovate.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indian art in recovery mode

A recent article in prestigious publication Financial Chronicle penned by Jhupu Adhikari proclaims that Indian art is on road to recovery.

The writer, a noted painter who has won numerous advertising design awards, points to a spate of newspaper reports, heralding a revival in the Indian art market, and er hastens to add:
“However, this comes along with the other news that state one should not make too much of these reports as the prices of Indian art have not shown any real signs of revival.”As he notes: “The problem lies in the fact that we had this wonderful period when works even by lesser-known artists were commanding high prices. They had been used to selling at high prices and the past year and a half has indeed been hard for them to adjust to.”

This is why we now have many artists who are keen to seek new styles and new venues. They are turning to photography to reach out to newer audiences. The columnist mentions.
"Some have given up on the tried and tested locations and have even moved away to different cities to come across new buyers, the columnist observes. This is to be expected, since an artist can’t be removed from his or her creativity and an outlet must per force be found where this can flourish.”
He also refers to an article on auctions in NY – specifically Sotheby’s recent sale. Legendary artist Andy Warhol’s work of $200 bills painted over a 2.3 m-wide silk screen canvas, went for $43.8 million.

The painting, showing $1 bills painted side by side in grey with a blue treasury seal, had been acquired by, Pauline Karpidas, a London-based art collector in 1986. It went for a price 100 times higher than what he had paid. Christie’s International sale held simultaneously though managed to raise just $74.2 million through the sale of 85 per cent of the lots put up on auction.

In this context, the writer drew attention to a new ArtTactic report suggesting that the Indian art market’s recovery could take place earlier than expected.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective

‘Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism’ is the title of a show courtesy Lunds Konsthall, Sweden that presents three simultaneous exhibits offering distinct perspectives on the cinema and art of the Indian Subcontinent in context of recent history and today.

Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–90) is considered one of the most significant artists of her generation from India. Her photographs, paintings and drawings done in the early 1960s until the late 1980s, are recognized as a key body of work put within the modernist canon.

The artist was greatly influenced by an earlier generation of abstract artists like V.S. Gaitonde. She is sometimes compared to Agnes Martin or Kazimir Malevich. Putting her work in perspective, a curatorial note mentions: “Nasreen Mohamedi’s uncompromisingly abstract drawings produced from the 1970s onwards deserve to be considered on their own terms.

"Not only that they also invoke a range of cultural references. This becomes particularly clear in her photographs, in which meticulously cropped details of historical architecture and everyday life create aesthetic links to both contemporary culture and an Islamic visual heritage.”

The exhibition brings together some rarely seen drawings, paintings and photographic works. These are presented along with a set of unique archival material drawn from Nasreen Mohamedi’s studio. The show has been curated by the duo of Grant Watson and Suman Gopinath. It is initiated and organized by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

‘Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism’ was first shown at Oslo office of Contemporary Art Norway and later at Milton Keynes Gallery based in England. This slightly extended version being shown at Lunds konsthall will travel to Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland.

The works in the exhibit have been lent by the Mumbai based Sikander family, Shireen Gandhy and the world-famous Glenbarra Art Museum in Japan.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quality is coming back into collecting

“Thankfully, quality is coming back into collecting accompanied with a new drive to display private collections in public spaces. Not every Indian collector is trying to be the next Henry Clay Frick or Dominique de Menil, whose private collections are significant museums. But they are keen on sharing their newfound enthusiasm….”

This is a pertinent observation made in a recent essay, titled ‘Buyers' Market’ by Jyoti Thottam in the reputed international publication, TIME, which goes on to add: “The market has already boomed and bottomed but the serious collectors remain — and their sustained commitment is quietly transforming the Indian art world.”

Clearly, the world is the stage for contemporary Indian art. In keeping with its rising stature, a new breed of art collectors has emerged. Their passion and fortunes seem to have only risen along with India's booming economy. Significantly, the new age collectors are not spending their riches on the established masters - either of India or the West. They happen to seek out young artists including those just out of art school, and gather their works with rigorous, passionate interest.

To understand where Indian art is heading, it helps to look back, the writer notes. The fine arts in the country largely depended on royal patronage - well into the 20th century. Post-independence, the few industrialist families turned the most important collectors. Over the past decade or so, India's economic boom has created a new class of affluent professionals.

As a result, the collector base has really widened. This new burst of demand pushed up prices. Artists, too, started harboring unrealistic expectations. "Everyone wants to be Damian Hirst overnight," states art expert-collector Jai Bhandarkar. On the positive side, more Indians are being exposed to art than ever. To prove the point, Mumbai painter Papri Bose is quoted as saying, "It's almost becoming like a way of life."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Asian interest in Indian art is gradually picking up

Gareth Harris of The Financial Times notes that Charles Saatchi is planning a show of Indian art at his Chelsea space early next year, whereas The New York Times proclaims that Asian interest in Indian art is gradually picking up.

Giving an enhanced sense of the Indian art market, renowned publication Economist noted, “The prices of paintings by known artists such as the late F.N. Souza and M.F. Husain have fallen over the past year. Prices of works by younger contemporary artists have also slumped, which has brought a sense of reality to the art market."

Underlining a few fundamental problem areas, art expert Maithili Parekh mentioned to BBC News: "India is lacking enough curators and critics and art publications. We’ve little institutional and museum collecting to help make art much more accessible to the public." But things are definitely changing. Grasping the ‘Winds of Change’, Georgina Wilson-Powell of The Khaleej Times, made mention of Art Expo India 2009, an event in Mumbai that hoped to raise awareness of modern Indian art on the international stage.

Rob Dean, a former India representative of Christie’s auctioneers who now runs London’s Rob Dean Art gallery, was quoted as saying in the UAE based publication, The National: “From the talk here, there’s an upswing in the mood, definitely not so in London.”

Giving a broader perspective, art expert Vickram Sethi, ‘who helps some of India’s richest build their collections’, stated, “Economic statistics are a poor indicator of the buying power of Indian collectors. The people who buy art aren’t people who are so much affected by the stock market and by the recession. Our economy is not a true reflection of the money there is in India. India has so much money; we don’t even know how much money we’ve. There’s a lack of confidence, there’s nothing else.”

Echoing his views, Mr Dean felt that the ‘new-found’ buying power was now increasingly looking to buy international as well as Indian art. Checking Indian art’s bumpy ride in the market, an insightful essay in the prestigious UK publication, Financial Times wanted to find out how hard the economic downturn had hit modern & contemporary Indian art? The hyped Indian art scene, according to artist Subodh Gupta, meant that college students in India were making works with the market in mind, ‘which is dangerous’.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dynamism and vibrancy of Indian art showcased in a new show in Munich

Today internationally renowned artists from India like Riyas Komu, T.V. Santhosh and Iranna G.R. depict figuratively, yet their work is of a tremendous spiritual depth. Young talents such as Vibha Galhotra and Vivek Vilasini allow dismaying elements to act. Bose Krishnamachari and Murali cheeroth lead into a world of psychedelic.

The encoded pictures of Sachin Karne and their reference to art history show the intensiveness of the heritage from the past used and molded. Manish Pushkale and Akhilesh explore emotions by way of linear contours, whereas Chandra Bhattacharjee and George Martin P.J. let elements of Pop art intermingle with super-realism and expressionistic abstraction.

The dynamism, vibrancy and sensitivity of today’s leading Indian artists get showcased in a new show at galerie müller & plate based in Munich, Germany. Among the participating artists are Achuthan Kudallur, Akhilesh, Bose Krishnamachari, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Harsha Vardhana S, G. R. Iranna, George Martin PJ, Jehangir Jani, Leena Kejriwal, Manish Puskhale and Prabhakar Kolte.

Then there are names like Dileep Sharma, Ebenezer Singh, Prabuddha Dasgupta, Ravikumar Kashi, Riyas Komu, Roy Thomas, S. G. Vasudev, Sujata Bajaj, Sunil Padwal, T. V. Santhosh, Vanita Gupta, Vibha Galhotra, Vivan Sundaram and Vivek Vilasini. Works by F. N. Souza, Ganesh Haloi, and H. A. Gade also form part of the major show.

The show presents a sense of continuity in Indian art through five decades and more. Taking a cue from S. H. Raza’s works, the curatorial note concludes: “His sensuous impetus and the abstract symbolism can and will not deny western influence. Yet it’s genuine Indian-linked equally to its tradition and presence. On first sight, the art production in India seems very international and intercultural. But at close sight it shows its continuity with tradition and with the past.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Subodh Gupta show in London

Subodh Gupta’s works are on view simultaneously at Old Bond Street galleries and London based Hauser & Wirth throughout this month. Among the creations he has made especially for his first major solo show in the UK is an intriguing three-dimensional reworking of Duchamp’s mustachioed Mona Lisa, L.H.O.O.Q, (1919).

Hauser & Wirth, a leading contemporary art gallery, represents many emerging and established artists. The gallery was founded by Ursula Hauser, Iwan Wirth and Manuela Wirth in 1992. It has been located since 1996 in the former Löwenbräu brewery building. In its endeavor to turn the spotlight on Indian contemporary art, the gallery has chosen to showcase Subodh Gupta.

A recent piece on him in the UK Financial Times by Gareth Harris on the eve of the show mentions: “A series of mangoes, the solid bronze pieces, are a sculptural Dutch 17th-century still life, their ‘skins’ dappled with subtly delineated blemishes. The mangoes go on show by the Indian artist, alongside a few other impressive sculptural creations. This nod to a fellow art market darling is another canny move on the part of artist Subodh Gupta acknowledged as India’s first contemporary art superstar.”

An accompanying note to the solo show elaborates: “In his new works, the artist deftly moves towards objects possessing an auratic quality, away from composite sculptures. Readymade commodities tend to experience transformations in material and scale, transmogrifying into extraordinary artifacts from being mere factory-produced items. He presents subject matters employing culturally loaded mediums like bronze, marble and steel.

“Their symbolism varies from the universal to the enigmatic. And their emotional impact can range from menace to nostalgia. Appropriated icons from the canon of Western art accompany replicas of perishable, interchangeable goods typically associated with India, and items whose import is specific to him.” To sum up, Subodh Gupta’s work embodies the clash between individual and impersonal experience in contemporary society.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Contemporary art market: Down but definitely not out!

The art market is down but definitely not out. This interesting observation is made by Georgina Adam of The UK Financial Times. The writer noted: “During 2006-08, feverish bidding and some speculation drove prices of the top works of art. Records continued to tumble in the salerooms. Since then, the amount of contemporary art sold has shrunk.”

The trend is global and gradual. According to Artprice.com, that tracks worldwide auction results, the auction sales volume of artists dropped in the first half of this year. The Contemporary art 100 index of Art Market Research that tracks the performance of a top ‘basket’ of 100 artists, also showed a drop over last year.

However, things have started looking up as the mood of collectors, curators, dealers and artists themselves, who converged on the British capital. As the Frieze art week threw open its doors, the question constantly being asked is: Where is the market now? Philippe Ségalot, art adviser to several top collectors comprising Christie’s owner François Pinault, stated “The market is there, albeit a bit shrunk. Buyers and sellers may be fewer, but the real collectors are still there.”

Assistant professor (finance), Maastricht University, Rachel Campbell, who advises London’s Fine Art Fund, was quoted as saying: “Once the economy improves, the broader art market will certainly improve as well. The art market historically tends to lag behind the financial markets by roughly about two years. But I believe that gap is narrowing now. People are talking of a double dip. I do not think (the art market) will go down again. However, it will plateau for a couple of years. I see slightly more risk in the short term - say up to two or three years - but not so much in the longer term. Then the growth will start again.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

India as the guest country at Korea International Art Fair

The special India Guest Country program was one of the major highlights of the just concluded Korea International Art Fair (KIAF) that brought together leading galleries, collectors and art connoisseurs from across the world. There were artists from the home country as well as those from Spain, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, China and India, among others.

The idea of inviting India as the guest country at KIAF was to demonstrate to the country’s growing stature in the international art market apart from its excellence, abundant talent as well as its bright prospects. KIAF director Cheong Jong-Hyo stated that India was most likely to emerge as a new centre of art and culture in Asia since the country has huge potential coupled with rich history. According to him, interest in contemporary Indian art is steadily increasing, which is why the organizers chose to invite India as the guest country.

An exhibition, entitled ‘Failed Plot’, was inspired by the idea of the ‘incomplete picture’. It was curated by noted art critic Gayatri Sinha. A curatorial note explained: “Recent terror events, enacted in different parts of the world and believed to have a locus in West or South Asia, come to be known as the ‘failed plot’ in media and academic parlance. As investigations get underway, the truth continues to remain elusive. These narratives are completed, abandoned, denied in a million unrecorded ways, until they uneasily subside in the residue of public memory.”

Riyas Komu, T. V. Santhosh, Vivan Sundaram, Chitra Ganesh, Pushpamala N, Abir Karmarkar, Anita Dube, Archana Hande, Ranbir Kaleka and Manjunath Kamath were among the 15 Indian artists whose works were showcased. The participating artists urged a prompt enquiry into a rather more personal sphere, of how we tend to receive and make images and imaginary narratives than the actual mechanism of terror. It also included life stories, manuscripts, poems, ideas that were confined to remain incomplete.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A New Vanguard: trends in contemporary Indian art

A comprehensive group show, entitled 'A New Vanguard’, mapped distinct trends in contemporary Indian art. The exhibition comprised works by eighteen emerging and talented artists. It was hosted at the Guild gallery in New York and simultaneously showcased online by Saffronart, the premier auction house.

'A New Vanguard’ offered a glimpse of the new idiom propagated by participating artists’ who ably represented India's diverse contemporary artistic practices. The exhibition encompassed the dynamic trends and temperaments as each work offered a unique perspective on the continual negotiations, aspirations and struggles of today’s complex life, presented across the various stages on which it’s played out, from the village to the megalopolis, the intimate to the public.

It included some exciting works that encompassed a wide range of media like painting, sculpture, digital printmaking, video art, and site specific installation. A press release stated: “It’s our endeavor to offer a glimpse of the talented artists and artworks that are at the forefront of India's vast contemporary art practices.

The artists featuring in the show included Gigi Scaria, Sunoj D, Sathyanand Mohan, K P Reji, Sumedh Rajendran, Abir Karmarkar. Lavanya Mani. Lokesh Khodke, and Prajakta Palav Aher among others. Many of the works on display were essentially spontaneous reactions to the country's fast evolving environmental and sociopolitical landscapes.

Each of the participating artists gave rise to interesting questions about the curious coexistence of the urban and the rural and the ensuing tension between the urge to move forward and keenness to preserve traditions. It was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by V. Divakar and Santhosh S.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

AEI brings to the fore value of art as an investment avenue

All doubts regarding the long term benefits of including art in one’s investment portfolio were dispelled at AEI. The focus clearly was on working out and fine-tuning the buying strategy to achieve twin goals of accumulating quality art and holding it to reap the rewards.

Even global art world is looking with great hope at contemporary Indian art. Sample this essay titled ‘Masterpieces of contemporary Indian art’ in the Economist magazine that mentions how Indian art is enjoying boom driven by the ambitions of a newly rich—often fabulously rich—generation of non-resident Indians.

The essay states: “Scant attention was paid to modern Indian art until the end of the 1990s. Many contemporary Indian painters, though, are still too derivative to interest international buyers for whom the subcontinent remains an exotic travel destination rather than a font of originality, vision and drive. That has not stopped prices for the best Indian work rising twenty-fold or more since 2000, particularly for leading artists, and this looks like a market with a long way to run. Indian buyers have become especially adept at spotting paintings on the Internet and tracking prices at hundreds of art-gallery and auction websites around the world.”

One worthy piece of advice that the above essay offers is to look beyond the headline-catching prices, affordable by only the very few, and understand that it is possible to find talented artists with works of cheaper price tags, still of exceptional quality. The precondition is to be prepared to put in the effort to find them.

Another key to be a successful investor is to work out your approach towards collecting art. This implies understanding what type of a buyer you are. There are two broad types of buyers in the art market. There’s a category of buyers for whom the idea is to buy art purely to harness their passion and love for art. In this case, fascination and fondness for art inadvertently results in adding color and richness to one’s precious portfolio.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

‘Pan India – a shared habitat’ by Prashant Panjiar

Prashant Panjiar is known for his carefully composed photographs. A self-taught photographer, he has a thoroughly meticulous approach towards work, placing him among the country’s very best. Ordinary people, who lead ordinary lives yet show extraordinary spirit, have invariably been at the core of his practice. This trait is evident in his new show at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

His series of works ‘Pan India – a shared habitat’ presents a wide array of rural vistas, cityscapes, and various habitats, forming the ubiquitous crosshatch of rampant urbanization. Culled from his vast body of work, it raises pointed queries about notions of development. The images are in panoramic format he started employing in 2000. He felt that the format could be organized around a theme of living habitats, and thus started exploring it.

He explains, “It expresses concerns on the new Indian growth and construction and how people live (with it).” Curator of the show Sanjeev Saith elaborates that Prashant Panjiar is a photographer ‘not in a hurry’ and adds, “He approaches the subject matter with great empathy. All the elements in his picture share a harmonious relationship. A viewer is moved rather than just getting impressed.”

To put it in the words of this passionate photographer, his work has become non-dramatic over the years as he has opted out of ‘in-your-face’ photography. Instead he prefers to take a pause, step back a bit, and let the action get over to shoot the after-effect.

Regarding the content and compositions of his series ‘Pan India – a shared habitat’, he states, “It’s more introspective in nature. Most of the images are rather simple.” This de-emphasizing of drama has been a marked evolution in his work, underling how life carries on even as the scenery collapses around us.But what if habitats begin to appear incidental? How does one then emphasize the importance of a private living space?"

According to him, “With all of modernity around us, if we are able to maintain a semblance of our individual identities, community, family, and therefore ownership – is what will keep India still very special.” According to him, the pictures are supposed to be reflective in nature, and not corrective, since he is not an activist.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Babu Xavier’s new Ganesha collection at Gallery Archana

When art marries divinity The quintessential, quirky form of the revered Hindu deity, Ganesha, has greatly fascinated artists. They paint, draw, mould and sculpt him in various fabulous forms and shapes. When art marries divinity, the result is a captivating confluence of colors, forms, harmony and serenity. Renowned artist Babu Xavier unveils a new collection of his Ganesha works at Kuala Lumpur based Gallery Archana.

The celebrated painter has come up with some fun-filled, curious and colorful depictions of Ganesha that are bound to hold your attention. The Lord is portrayed in various moods and forms in all his splendour and grace. Observing various postures of Ganesha - sitting, standing, fighting the demons, dancing, and so on – is a magical experience. Babu Xavier recreates it with his brush for the viewers…He captures the aura of this universally worshipped divine form.

Elaborating on his philosophy as an artist, he has stated: “I love this activity (of painting); I mean the physical part of it, a great deal. I derive lots of joy and inner fire out of it. It’s a real magical world for me. In my paintings there's a lot of contradiction. It can be very disturbing." In then, one sees, a deeper meaning.

Gallery Archana, established in December 2004, is considered to be a pioneer in promoting Indian artists in Malaysia and vice versa. It was a part of the Art Expo India in Mumbai, India, in September 2009. Harboring a vision to diffuse the passion for art within the global community, it showcased exciting works of some highly talented artists. The gallery featured the works of well-known Malaysian artists, including Hamir Soib Mohammed, Ahmad Shukri, Masnoor Ramli and Bayu Utomo Radjikin at AEI 2009.

Significantly, this was the first ever major show of Malaysian artists in India in such a prestigious art event. Along with them, works of Indian artists whose Karan Khanna, Kalicharan and Manish Pushkale were also presented by Gallery Archana.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saffronart covers the second edition of Art Expo India

Leading art portal Saffronart covered the second edition of Art Expo India in detail. We repodeuce the reportage for our blog readers:

AEI was held from the 25th to the 27th of September, 2009, at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai. The fair brought together thirty galleries dealing in modern and contemporary Indian art from all over the country and abroad, hoping to provide a much needed impetus to the Indian Art market and community.

Conceptualized by Vickram Sethi, the Art Expo displayed an exhaustive collection of modern and contemporary Indian art and provided a space for established as well as new galleries toconverge and converse with each other and with the Indian art community in general. According to Sethi, the lack of international exposure, the limited number of collectors and buyers, and the unorganized art market are the biggest problems that Indian art faces today, and this edition of Art Expo India promised a platform to address these prominent issues as well.

For three days, the walls of the top floor of the Nehru Centre were entirely covered with Indian art, with each of the participating galleries having a stall where they showcased the best of their collections. The gallerists were happy to provide advice about the works displayed, and conversations easily moved beyond the frame of the canvas.

Also presenting itself as a platform for intellectual discussion, the Art Expo offered a series of panels and talks that ensured a better understanding of art, on both the local and global level. Kay Saatchi of the Saatchi Gallery delivered the key-note address about spotting new talent and encouraging young artists. Other panels like (X)topia featuring Jitish Kallat and Ranjit Hoskote were informative conversations about various artists’ works and their international

Panels were also dedicated solely to Indian art, with Dr. Alka Pande, for example, speaking about the erotic in Indian art, moderated by the renowned artist Anjolie Ela Menon. Other prominent panelists included Abhay Sardesai, Brian Brown, Judith Greer and Bose Krishnamachari. Other events organized to coincide with the Art Expo were a curated exhibition of S.H. Raza’s works at the Nehru center, Mumbai, and several gallery openings across the city.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

AEI 2009 successfully reached out to the masses

Mumbai’s Nehru Centre might not be regularly frequented by art connoisseurs but they thronged the venue to check a wide range of works put up by leading galleries across India and globe at Art Expo India 2009.

“It served as a forum to let viewers look at a collection representative in nature. Entering galleries could be intimidating and a forum like this helps initiate new people into the world art…” organizer of the three-day fair, Vickram Sethi, was quoted as saying in The Indian Express news report. Summing up the trend, it mentioned: “Once, art was viewed in closed galleries. Now it’s suspended on false walls in stall areas. Private is going public and shared platforms are gradually becoming the norm.

The All India Art Trade Fair Organizer, Adishwar Puri, concurred. “The novices get a glimpse of different genres of art and work they are not familiar with.” The two-day fair in the second week of October displayed canvases of over 80 Indian artists. Earlier, the Art Mart at Epicentre, Gurgaon had 50 galleries.

Elaborating on the logistics of such events, the IE report mentioned: “Preparations usually start months in advance. Registration for next year’s India Art Summit has already begun. An effort is made to introduce elements, which could generate more buzz, while displaying the works. Even though public art in India is quite limited, art is now going public through fairs.

Participating in the fair does demand finance and physical effort, comprising renting stalls, transporting the works and insuring them." But the effort is worth it, as Uday Jain, director of Dhoomimal Gallery, pointed out: “The investment does prove beneficial in the long runas one builds relationships with contacts.

Ten thousand invites for AEI were distributed in Mumbai. Potential collectors from New Delhi to Chennai, and Dubai, England to Switzerland were invited.” According to Vickram Sethi, it’s important to reach out to a global audience. And that’s exactly what AEI achieved...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Summary of conversations and talk sessions at AEI

The just-concluded Art Expo India (AEI) involved leading artists and experts from India and abroad who provided valuable insights into the broader spectrum of Indian art as well as into creative minds of the country’s most talented contemporary artists.

The perfect launch pad to the eclectic art event was served by noted art expert Mallika Sagar Advani who conversed with renowned art expert Kay Saatchi. What are the attributes to watch out for in an emerging artist, the renowned collector-curator was asked, and her reply was: “The artist’s commitment and passion to make art coupled with a certain amount of skill involved is what matters.”

Two interesting talk programs focused on Bose Krishnamachari and Jitish Kallat, among the two most dynamic artists of this generation. The former has conducted various experiments as part of his practice that he discussed during his presentation ‘Everything is Art’.

A piece of art could originate from any ubiquitous object when it’s juxtaposed with right intent and intentions. Emphasizing this particular aspect of his practice, he added: “You can discover art in everything around. If you are conscious of it, you can enjoy the process of discovery. I consider myself a watchman. I watch everything from an artist’s viewfinder.”

‘(X)topia: A Search for Place, A Place for Search’ tracked the journey of artist Jitish Kallat who works in a variety of mediums like painting, photography, installation and sculpture. His oeuvre addresses classic themes of survival and the endless narratives of intense human struggle. It reflects a deep involvement with the city of Mumbai and derives much of its vivacious visual language from his immediate urban environ.

A series of such free-wheeling conversations were held at the annual event not only to promote the emerging contemporary Indian art in the backdrop of its relationship with the international art scene, but also to offer a glimpse of exciting art practices by individual artists.

Monday, October 5, 2009

AEI panelists acquainted audiences with the beauty, joy and worth of collecting art

In a highly informative and insightful session, Sharan Apparao, Menaka Kumari-Shah and Brian Brown mulled over the beauty and joy of collecting art in current context. Dr. Alka Pande threw light on the sensual side of art through the ages to the contemporary times in a seminar, ‘The aesthetics of the erotic’. Anjolie Ela Menon and Satish Maneshinde also formed part of am interesting debate on the intriguing aesthetics of the erotic in Indian art tradition from historical and legal perspective.

Kirsty Ogg, the co-curator of London's Whitechapel Gallery, also discussed Indian art from a global perspective. She stated: “Conceptually, you can see a piece of art as a combination of form and content. The forms or modes of expression remain more or less the same. There are two sides to the Indian art scene - in terms of the (universal) form of the work, and the specific context, which has a unique Indian texture.”

She added: “Art, to me, is a very powerful, transformative medium that can alter one’s way of thinking about the life and the realities. Art is a process, an expression, a thought coupled with skill and power of execution. Educating people on various facets of art is very important. This cannot happen overnight. It takes years to ‘democratize’ art, but a start has to be made somewhere.”

Explaining the importance of developing a culture conducive to collecting, art scholar Judith Greer pointed to the practice in the US wherein focused community groups actively support local museums, and even major museums are supported by individuals who often donate massive collections to them.

“In contrast, the collaborative spirit is not quite there in India. Sustained patronage is important to create conditions conducive for an artist to make good work of art,” she concluded. All in all, AEI panelists provided nuggets of wisdom, and acquainted audiences with the beauty, joy and worth of collecting art.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spotting conceptual and structural difference between western and Indian art world

Spotting In an exclusive interview, the co-curator of London's Whitechapel Gallery, Kirsty Ogg, discussed Indian art from a global perspective.

When asked how different is western art world from the Indian art scene in conceptual and structural terms, she commented: “Actually, I do not see much of a difference between the two. Of course, the Indian art scene is clearly still evolving. It’s an emerging market and needs to develop and deepen further to gather further strength and momentum. Its current trajectory can partly be attributed to globalization.

“Technology has made it easier to talk to people, communicate with each other, exchange different ideas and share various interesting concepts irrespective of geographical barriers. You can conduct research and convey your opinions over the Internet without any hindrance and inhibition,” she added.

According to Kirsty Ogg, the Internet has also given greater visibility to Indian contemporary art thanks to increased networking. Art galleries, institutions, fairs, museums and individual art experts are feeding this global interest. Of course, there are several other factors responsible. Prime among them is obviously the excellent quality of work being produced.

This is a great time, a sort of sweet spot, as curious collectors and experts are digging out the hidden wealth of talent in the country, she stated. Conceptually, you can see a piece of art as a combination of form and content. The forms or modes of expression remain more or less the same. There are commonalities existing on this count.

There are two sides to the Indian art scene - in terms of the (universal) form of the work, and the specific context, which has a unique Indian texture. What really matters is the uniqueness of content. This is where an artist like say, Subodh Gupta really impresses. He brings to the fore local influences, issues, concerns and motifs that are unmatched, she pointed out.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Art Expo India 2009 provided a peep into the promising world of Indian art

A host of luminaries participated in the art expo at Mumbai’s Nehru Centre. Prime among them was Kay Saatchi, the former, an internationally renowned art curator. She has co-curated over 34 exhibitions for the Saatchi Collection between l987 and 2001 in partnership with Charles Saatchi.

On the other hand, Judith Greer is an independent arts producer and consultant for contemporary art projects both in the UK and abroad. Unraveling her personal journey as a collector, Judith Greer turned the clock back to seventies when everything she did in her spare time was art related. Since then it has been a passion for her.

She reminisced: “For me, the key is to know the artist and his or her growth trajectory. The decision of buying an artwork should essentially be influenced by aesthetic concerns, something which all new collectors do not adhere to...”

Sharan Apparao, Menaka Kumari-Shah and Brian Brown, the three proven art experts, mulled over ‘buying art in today’s recessionary times’ at AEI 2009. Their opinions count because all three are well versed with the ground realities of the art market.

The elite panelists at the expo were unanimous in their opinion that dynamic Indian artists, influenced by global developments in contemporary art thanks to their greater exposure to the international art world, were striving to maintain a balanced relationship with Western art based on an identity deeply rooted in the rich artistic and cultural traditions of the country.

Art expert-collector Vickram Sethi, the AEI organizer, summed it as an exercise to give platform to emerging talent from across the country. Dwelling on his first fair last year, he said in an interview, "Last year, collectors got first-hand knowledge on the art market. Besides, service providers were able to meet gallery owners and, above all, participants were able to make new contacts and expand their own marketing activities."

Summing up the spirit of the second edition, an ET news report succinctly described it as an attempt ‘to create a platform to bring together gallery owners, dealers art funds, auction houses, investors, insurance outfits and collectors.’ Art Expo India 2009 provided a peep into the promising world of Indian art, for sure!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day three at AEI: Bose Krishnamachari's presentation, Everything is Art

Bose Krishnamachari, an acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist, has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in India and internationally. He has worked with a variety of media including painting (abstract and figurative), photography and cultural assemblages. The artist has conducted various unusual experiments as part of his practice that he discussed during his presentation ‘Everything is Art’ at AEI.

He spoke about his previous art experiments, exhibitions and collections like 'Exist', a retrospective of sorts in which he looked back and recreated nearly 15 years of his oeuvre. He worked around the idea of remembrance and memory. His 'GHOST Transmemoir', captured the essence and energy of Mumbai through installation and paintings.

The exhibition included an unusual installation comprising over 100 Tiffin boxes, embedded with LCDs that transmitted thoughts of celebrities and commoners on the city. One of his well-known installations, 'AmUseuM', comprised a series of open, spiral bound books, their pages glued together and painted over, with poems written on them, framed in glass like museum exhibits.
Elaborating on his art philosophy, he has stated: 'Liberation from consistency or styles is the direction of my art.’ According to him, it's important to try out new things.

A piece of art can originate from any ubiquitous object if blended with right intent and intentions. Emphasizing this aspect, Bose Krishnamachari said: “I love all kinds of visual projects, and do not like to stick to a specific linguistic style. You as an artist can get inspired by anything, anytime. It’s up to you when and how you pick it up. In everything around, you can find (out) art. If you are aware of it, you can enjoy the process of discovery. On my part, I am a watchman. I watch everything from an artist’s eye and look for art in everything.”

In his informative and insightful , Bose Krishnamachari also touched upon the art practices of international artists like Tunga, Yinka Shonibare, and Zoe Bradley Ettore Sottsass, whose art, furniture and architecture he deciphered with the help of slides.

Sharan Apparao, Menaka Kumari-Shah and Brian Brown on ‘buying art in recessionary times’

Sharan Apparao, Menaka Kumari-Shah and Brian Brown, the three proven art experts, mulled over ‘buying art in today’s recessionary times’ at AEI 2009. Their opinions count because all three are well versed with the ground realities of the art market.

Menaka Kumari-Shah, India Representative of the Christies, brings considerable knowledge and experience of the domain. Starting with a Mumbai-based charity, where she arranged exhibits and auctions. She further developed a career in the arts. She joined Christie’s London (2005) as a coordinator for its biennial Arts of India auction, after apprenticing in the Indian Dept. of the British Museum.

Sharan Apparao has built Apparao Galleries into one of the leading contemporary art avenues in India. She is tuned to the changing trends including globalization of art. Her keen interest and passion for contemporary art drives Apparao Galleries that caters to the aesthetic needs of the eclectic clients. Thanks to her astute insight, the gallery has unearthed some of the most renowned names on contemporary Indian art scene.

Brian Brown, who holds a degree in Finance & Economics from California State University, Sonoma, is a financial and stock market expert with immense passion for art collecting. He is currently focused on creating liquidity in the Indian Private Equity space. He is an avid collector and researcher of contemporary Indian art.

The tone and intent of the talk was extremely positive and encouraging for prospective buyers. Menaka Kumari-Shah observed that there has been a perceptible change in the profile of buyers. The major difference, she noted that, art buying earlier was driven by a sense of patriotism. NRIs connected to their homeland though it. However, after the art boom that happened five years ago, domestic interest in the Indian art scene grew multifold.

According to her, a class of buyers priced out of the market, during the phase is gradually returning to it. Sharan Apparao, unwinding the ups and downs of the market cycle, underlined the fact that ‘investors’ essentially followed market trends, but now true collectors were back on the scene. She noted that even the investor-type-of-buyers were not such a negative force and that she enjoyed working with both sets of buyers.

Brian Brown underlined the fact that markets were currently going through a consolidation phase, having witnessed both the boom and the bust. He observed that people look at art and property as tangible assets compared to something else that may disappear. Pointing to the correlation between the stock markets and the alternate asset classes like art, he emphasized the lag effect and believed that the latter was already on a recovery path.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kirsty Ogg underlines a high visibility, importance and awareness about Indian art

The second edition of Art Expo India witnessed participation of several art galleries as well art experts not only from India, but also internationally. The co-curator of London's Whitechapel Gallery, Kirsty Ogg, was one of them. In an insightful talk on the last day of the event, she discussed Indian art from a global perspective.

On eve of her participation at AEI, She was interviewed by Pronoti Datta of TOI. In this post, we reproduce the interesting Q-n-A for the benefit of our readers:

Q: What's your view of the Indian art scene?
A: Over the last eight years, the representation of Indian art has been gaining on the international art scene. And not just on a commercial level. Artists have been appearing in exhibitions like Documenta, the Venice Biennale and publicly funded galleries. So there's a high visibility and awareness about Indian art.

There's also a range of media-from new media to photography-being used in India. What's interesting is that there are two sides to it (Indian art)-in terms of the form of the work that can slip into circulation on the international art scene and the context that has an Indian texture.

Q: Does Whitechapel plan to exhibit Indian art in the near future?
A: We're working on a massive show of Indian photography from the 1860s. It will look at the moment when India took control of the camera. There are the first studio portraits by Deendayal. Among the 70 photographers featured are Pushpamala, Dayanita Singh, Sheeba Chhachhi, Raghu Rai Raghubir Singh and Homai Vyarawala.

There's a real mix between fine art practices that use photography as the medium, documentary photography, straight photography and images that are part of NGO projects. The exhibit will be a virtual lesson in history with images from pre and post-partition India and snapshots from Pakistan as well as Bangladesh.

Q: How has the financial crisis affected art throughout the world?
A: England had a wobble but now things have stabilized. The situation was bad for Indian art because it was coming up on the wave. On the positive side, recession made people reassess basic questions like why have a gallery, who is the audience or who are the prospective buyers?

In Britain we've gone through good and bad times. In the late 1980s, there was a recession and galleries closed. People like Damien Hirst organized shows like ‘Freeze', which happened in a building in Canary Wharf. They didn't wait for a gallery. They made their own show. As artists you have to take a bit of authority. The fundamental questions artists need to answer are: ‘Who sees my work and who's buying my work?’

Just because your work sells, it's not necessarily good. You hope it sells to a good collector who takes care of it. Work quickly sold by a collector can undermine an artist's career. In fact, people start thinking whether the work is good or not.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Collector-curator Kay Saatchi, a guest speaker at AEI, receives tremendous media attention

Internationally renowned collector-curator, Kay Saatchi who was an inaugural speaker at Art Expo India 2009, received tremendous media attention. Sample this profile of hers by Vishwas Kulkarni in The Mumbai Mirror (September 27)

“At the Art Expo India at Nehru Centre in Worli on Saturday, the 56-year-old doesn't give the impression of being a media-harried entity. So how has life been after Charles Saatchi? If there is any bitterness, she does not show it. We practically built the Saatchi Gallery together. Then suddenly it was all gone. But one moves on. And one should."
The writer then puts the attention back to her favored theme of art, asking whether the economic crisis has affected the art world in London. She quipped:

"You know, the crisis is for those who were playing the auction game, and good for them! The bust is only applicable to those high rollers. I have always attempted to promote the young arts. My group show Anticipations locates the most cutting-edge emerging artists in Britain. My partner Catriona Warren and I source the best student artists from all over the nation. All the works are priced between £500-£1500, and if there is a large work with special materials then it goes up to £8000; but that's only happened once. Also, all 100 per cent of the proceeds gostraight to the artists. My philosophy has always been to ring in the new."

How does she dodge the hip deluge that has swamped the art world across the globe? "I ignore it. That's my advice to everyone. Sincerity is the key word. It's important to work with genuinely dedicated artists, genuinely dedicated art galleries. Or else everybody will be trying to pull off an Andy Warhol act. But the point is that even Warhol has a valid sociological context from which he was operating; it wasn't just tinny, bratty works. I hope the younger lot gets that,"
she concluded.

(Image source: The Mumbai Mirror)