Monday, August 31, 2009

Art Expo India 2009 will act as a window to peep into Indian art

After a significant fall in art prices last autumn, domestic as well as international galleries are optimistic about the contemporary art market. Experts predict a sooner than expected, however, a gradual recovery.

According to ArtTactic, a market research firm, the market sure has strengthened after a noticeable drop in average prices for contemporary Indian art at the recent auctions (roughly 76% during the period of September 2008 and March 2009). Average auction prices for Indian art are currently at around $24,536, up from the lows of $13,827 in March 2009.

In an effort to add momentum to the recovery, Art Expo India 2009 is bringing together the country's largest fine and popular art galleries, art dealers and artists. Apart from thousands of quality art works by Indian artists, it will include displays from international galleries.

Art Expo India 2009, in a way, provides art investors and collectors a cross section of Indian and world art. Most exhibitors are keen on showing their best works in the financial capital of India. The fair is an opportunity for them to develop a strong network, add to their contacts, enhance collaborations and gauge the mood of the domestic market.

Despite the recession and the subsequent fall in prices, experts feel the market for fine art is still very strong, though not as hyped as it was a couple of years ago. Importantly, long term collectors want to use this phase to enhance their portfolios.

A host of investors-individual as well institutional- from European and American art circuit are looking to add Indian art to their collections. However, for many of them Indian art is still new. Art Expo India 2009 will act as a window for them to peep into Indian art.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Encouraging auction results send positive signals

Despite the slump, you would only be disappointed, if you seek works of top artists like Atul Dodiya, Jagannath Panda, or Riyas Komu. And that’s exactly the irony of the situation! A large body of their work is unavailable in the market.

When the art market was at its peak, people were willing to pay a premium to acquire their works. Having paid a high price to acquire their works, galleries are not willing to sell them at lower prices. They are holding on to their large collections-acquired or commissioned-confident that the art market will recover sooner or later. And there are already signs of that happening.

Just consider the following piece of information:
• The Saffron Art online auction in June sold 72 percent of the lots on offer. About 54 percent of them crossed the higher estimate.

• The Saffronart sale of over 80 Modern & Contemporary Indian works by Akbar Padamsee, V S Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, F. N. Souza and Subodh Gupta fetched grossed a total of Rs 10.4 crores ($2.2 million).

• On the other hand, the Christie's South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art sale in London in London collected $ 2.43 million.

• At the Christie's auction, a 1960 painting done by Husain went for a whopping Rs 3.1 crore.

• The Sotheby's annual sale of Indian art held around the same time in London fetched Rs 16.33 crore, well above the pre-sale estimate of Rs 9.44 crore.

• The Sotheby's sale comprised a fine assortment of 86 lots by top modern and contemporary artists apart from rare and important miniatures from India.

• The Sotheby's sale witnessed a record of £3,73,250 (Rs 2.9 crores) for Jogen Chowdhury’s 'Day Dreaming', an ink and pastel work.

• Souza’s 'Orange Head' fetched three times the pre-sale estimate. It saw strong bidding from a host of buyers before getting snapped up by a private collector from the US for 403,250 pounds, almost three times the presale high estimate pegged at 80,000-120,000 pounds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shilpa Gupta’s works at Yvon Lambert, Paris

Yvon Lambert, Paris hosts a solo show of Indian artist Shilpa Gupta. She is based in the bustling city of Mumbai, full of racial as well religious diversity. These factors tend to play vital roles in her art practice.

Gupta, one of the country’s most talented young artists, creates fabulous works using interactive video, objects, photographs, sound and public performances. She tries to examine themes like religion, the ‘psychology’ of fear, desire and false notions of security.

A curatorial note elaborates to state: “She is interested in notions of perception, and employs interaction as a means of inviting viewers to take part in exploring this.” Her sculpture on show, entitled ‘Threat’, caries this facets. In it countless pieces of soap are embossed with the word ‘threat’. They are invited to take a piece of it home to be used.

Several of Shilpa Gupta projects over the years have touched upon the theme of border crisis between warring neighbors India and Pakistan, and the resulting tension as well as loss of life in Kashmir. The curator explains: “Her video installation ‘Hardly bear to Speak’ comprises fours monitors that show vibrating portraits of the four judges appointed to decide the division of India and Pakistan.

The relationships were so tendentious, however, that they ‘could hardly bear to speak to each other’, further creating further deadlock.” Her empathy towards the scenario in Kashmir is visible in many of her art pieces. Her approach to the subject of war, though, is universal. The viewer can relate to them in terms of all conflict in the world.

Her works have also been shown at the Essl Museum, Austria in the exhibit ‘Chalo! India’, and at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in the exhibit ‘The World is Yours’. Her recent Biennale participations are Gwangju Biennale, Korea; the Yokohama International Triennale, Japan (curator Hans Ulrich Obrist) and Seville International Biennal of Contemporary Art.

Recent exhibitions of hers comprise the solo ‘While I Sleep’ at le Laboratoire, and The Generational: Younger than Jesus’, New Museum, New York; MAC/VAL Museum of Contemporary Art, Val-de-Marne, France.

Yvon Lambert opened the gallery in Paris in 1967. Yvon Lambert New York was started in 2003. Lauding Shilpa Gupta’s artistic achievements, a press release from the gallery mentions, “She has shown at some of the most important biennales and triennials in the world. Her work travels across cultural borders. It’s tenacious and thought provoking, as the artist permits the more dangerous contents of the mind, as well as private and collective fears, to take form as art.”

The show is on view until 15th October 2009. She will also show her creations at the Lyon Biennale in September 2009.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With art market set to gather mometum, now is the time to enhance your portfolio

“If you are invested in art, albeit only as a collector, experts now advise to both sell and purchase more if you wish to leverage the market. In essence’ Leverage your mistakes to create value’ are the words of wisdom from Kishore Singh in a recent Business Standard column .

It reads: “If that (advice) sounds paradoxical at a time while almost everyone has been advising caution and is telling you to lie low, there are sound enough reasons to use this opportunity for improving your collateral without losing any money.”

This is a golden chance to enhance the overall quality of your collection. You get to buy when valuations are low and art works are therefore affordable; you probably get the pick of the crop at that price point, the columnist observes.

Everyone is bound to make mistakes especially with one’s early buys, with or without the experts’ help. Chances are that you would have paid probably less than even the present low valuations (assuming no one tends to start by investing a crore of rupees and more likely a couple of lakhs on a painting), so you might not lose any money in the bargain.

Even if you do, it still isn’t such a bad deal because you rid yourself of something you recognize was a poor choice but you now have the liquidity to get something else (of better quality) in lieu of the resold works. According to experts, you need not replace an artist’s works with some other works by him or her. It’s better to diversify with a younger and lesser-valued artist/s.

If you have the money to spare, this is the time to buy irrespective of whether you’re a collector or not, or have some earlier works to dispose or not. The share market has been gradually on an upswing. And just as now is the time to invest in real estate, this is also likely the best ever time to invest in art, is the columnist’s pertinent piece of advice. With art market set to gather mometum, now is the time to enhance your portfolio!

BBC News tracks artistic and commercial evolution of Indian art

‘Indian art is pushing boundaries’, proclaims by a BBC News report by writer Sanjoy Majumder who elaborates how the Indian art market has really boomed over the past few years. He notes: “Christie's sold a painting by Francis Newton Souza Last year for a record amount of £1.2 million (about $2m).”

Indian art draws inspiration from a rich tradition, which goes back thousands of years. What we are witnessing now is its artistic and commercial evolution. A whole new generation of art lovers and artists is driving Indian art. The article points that new buyers are buoying the art market.

India's growing economy has thrown up new buyers. This in turn has resulted in a mushrooming of galleries across the country. The news report tracks one such popular art venue Gallery Espace, bang in the middle of a bustling neighborhood market located in south Delhi. It has been around for almost two decades and enjoys a reputation for promoting young artists often using unconventional materials and forms.

Renu Mody, the gallery owner, has been quoted as sating, "Earlier there were only traditional people buying art, collectors who were really passionate about art. But because of the market and wide investment possibilities, many professionals and even speculators have started buying art. Many of them are in their late 20s and early 30s. They have the money to spare and believe investing in art brings good value."

The deputy director of renowned British auction house, Sotheby's, Maithili Parekh, mentions the Indian art market is still quite young and new. However, it's exciting and has really taken off in spite of recession, which is encouraging. Of course, some shortcomings are also there.

"We are lacking enough critics and curators and art publications. We have little institutional and museum collecting that can help make art much more accessible to the public," Maithili Parekh points out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Need to engage and understand art better is growing

“Talk is cheap; a saying, which may be interpreted in many different ways. One of the ways of looking at it is that talking is more economical than actually buying. Which is why, in today’s uncertain art market, several collectors and market experts have taken to talking about it rather than charging the proverbial windmills.”

The above pertinent observation is made by Georgina Maddox in a recent article, ‘Debating Art’ in The Indian Express. Artists, theorists and gallery owners are only too glad with the recent turn of events. New Delhi has witnessed a series of talks on art, drawing an eager audience.

Well-known art critic Ranjit Hoskote feels, “Collectors after being dazzled by the market are rather looking at value built and enhanced by knowledge. Leading auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s plan a series of talks with their international Modern and Contemporary art specialists.

According to Jitish Kallat, the main reason for the continued keen interest is an “internal momentum within the country’s art scene. Driven by the rigor of the art being made and the expanded circumference of art (market) worldwide, there are now thousands of people involved in it. There’s no way people will give up on it, he quips.

Maithili Parekh, Sotheby’s deputy director, recently organized a talk by August Uribe, their Modern and Impressionist specialist. The auction house intends to host more talks in the future. The art expert has been quoted as saying, “Art is about imagination and ideas; it’s meant to spark discussion. There’s no doubt that the market plays an essential role since only sales ensure art lives beyond the historical time. However people are realizing they need to engage and understand it better.”

Peter Nagy of Nature Morte is also appreciative of the increasing interest in more meaningful discussions. However, the art analyst doesn’t believe there is enough of it as yet, and adds that everybody prior to this wanted only to talk of the market. That is still the case, avers Nagy.

“There’s too much emphasis on the art auctions and people feel this is the only transparent process and tend to build their opinions on basis of that. However, there’s much more to art than buyers actually know. Such discussions though, should help," he sums up.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Demand for select modern artists remain strong in the market

Most buyers and collectors, especially those with a long-term outlook, look for select artists when they research the market to invest in art. A majority of them generally look for a bunch of known names that stand for real quality and belong to the premium category.

It’s easier to resell their creations as the demand for them does not depend on seasonal changes or trends.A recent new feature in The Economic Times, ‘Modern art in demand’ by Nalini S Malaviya, tracked the art market movement.

The report mentioned: “Although, prices of both modern and contemporary art have substantially fallen in the last few months, it seems that the demand for certain modern artists continues to rule firm in the market. Most of these modern artists have featured at numerous international auctions. Their works have already reached a stable graph in terms of pricing and quality. Recently too, it was noticed the modern artists were more in demand in comparison to the contemporary artists at auctions held in India and abroad.”

When the market starts to revive fast, and there’s more liquidity around, interest in contemporary art will shoot up again. For now, collectors who possess works by the top modern artists are not averse to wait through the recessionary times. They are aware of the fact that art prices will climb up in the future. Or, when enquired by prospective clients the sale figures they quote invariably remain on the higher side.

Still, one can sense that buyers currently are not really on a wild spending spree. Before the sale actually takes place, images are evaluated carefully, which implies that awareness about art and its pitfalls has increased. Buyers have become more discerning. This will help the art market mature.

After all, once buyers start demanding quality, the artist and the dealer will have to follow suit and oblige...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A good time to buy contemporary art

Investors bruised and battered by a prolonged credit crisis could well look beyond bonds and equities in their quest for decent returns. For those eyeing art as investment, now is the right time to buy, mentions a recent Reuters report.

The insightful story mentions that investors with a keen eye are already beginning to see the value in bargains in contemporary art. It adds: “Prices of works done by artists born after 1945 have gone down nearly a third since hitting a late-2007 peak, according to market data compiler Artprice. Analysts state this could be a perfect time to get in.”

An art market player and a gallery owner has been quoted as saying: “It’s a very good time to buy contemporary art. You will find many interesting and high quality works of art at reasonable prices sans the hype of the last few years.”

Artprice data indicates turnover of contemporary art works selling at global auction fell to nearly 11 per cent of the volume in the first half of 2009, from almost 19 per cent over the whole of last year.The odd high-profile sale though has underlined the category's immense potential.

Nevertheless, one would need to be a bit patient, the news report advises, as according to it, it could still take some time before a significant turn takes place in art markets. As is observed, art markets tend to recover with a time lag later than the broader economy.

The owner of Switzerland-based Art Invest, Patrick Gruhn, said, “Contemporary means, it's up & coming, it's more fashion than value. It’s not the confirmed value, while the bigger names tend to have a certain stability. The contemporary market is still slumping a bit. It's a good opportunity to get in at the moment."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ICIA showcases the best of contemporary Indian art

Starting with the inaugural exhibition of the works of S.H. Raza, ICIA (Institute of Contemporary Indian Art) over the last couple of years has showcased a mix of masters and upcoming, talented artists who form the present and future of Indian art.

Building on his success of The Arts Trust, art expert Vickram Sethi is keen on generating art awareness among the masses by holding art talks and other meaningful art events at ICIA. This keen connoisseur-collector of art wants to convert ICIA intro a dynamic platform for frequent exchanges and interactions on contemporary art. He aspires to make the art gallery as a learning space for the visitors by making them involved with nuances of art.

The broad vision and aim of ICIA is to make art accessible to the lay person who may not have any formal knowledge of art, but may still be greatly interested in it. Mr Vickram Sethi is intent on hosting exclusive shows of those artists whose work he finds appealing. He elaborates, “There has to be that ‘wow’ factor when someone looks at a painting. The paint application, the technique, the concept – it all has to come together.”

He adds, “We want to offer our viewers the best art, given our knowledge of the field.” In keeping with his philosophy, ICIA has showcased a mix of masters like S. H. Raza and several upcoming, talented artists, all of whom form the present and future of Indian art.

The shows at ICIA hosted this year include a photograph series by Navroze Contractor, photographs by Marc Riboud, and a group show, 'Life is a Stage'. In 2008, some interesting shows were hosted, comprising 'The Mad Hatter's Tea Party', 'Heresies: a retrospective' by Pedro Meyer, '5 x 8 - Group Show', and'The Cool School - Group Show'.

George Martin, Nitish Bhattacharjee, Vivek Vilasini, Murali Cheeroth and others at Jehangir Art Gallery

Bajaj Capital Art House presents works of thirteen noteworthy artists at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.

Entitled ‘Beyond The Form’, the BCAH annual show features the young luminaries as well as senior artists, namely Satish Gujral, Jayasri Burman, George Martin P.J, Jagdish Chinthala, Maya Burman, Murali Cheeroth, Nitish Bhattacharjee, Paresh Maity, Sunil Padwal, Viveek Sharma, Vivek Vilasani, T.M. Aziz and Anil Gaikwad.

The show was first hosted at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. It then moved to Gallery Art Positive in the second week of August. ‘Beyond The Form’ continues until August 31 at Jehangir gallery.Jayasri and Maya Burman bring to life their familiar old world charm and fascinating reflections of folk form in their captivating contemporary coloration.

‘A Touch of Elegance and Looking For Closure’ by George Martin P.J’s enact an enigmatic drama of contemporary life in urban situations. The acrylic on canvas paintings captures the outer layer of urban spaces that reflect the post-modern sense of reality. Murali Cheeroth’s new video work revolves around on research on the use of harmful pesticides in & and around rural South. T.M. Aziz’s work is serenely steeped in Kerala’s expressionistic figuration.

Nitish Bhattacharjee also has moved to abstract or ‘non-representational art’ as he calls it. He has created an acrylic on canvas. His narratives may be termed as encounters between lines and hues. Vivek Vilasini’s digital archival ink on canvas portrays, a general in the Vietnam army, General Wong Neo Giang Giap, who fought the French and American armies.

His other work is based on the existence of a Bible, which can be acquired online at and off the shelves in Bangalore. The delicate irony these works evoke sure impacts existing ideologies, and inevitably influence the viewer’s cultural and social consciousness.

Known for his multi-faceted oeuvre in form of paintings, graphics, sculpture, mural, interior design and architecture, Satish Gujral has constantly dominated the Indian art scene. His work is largely inspired from the elements in contemporary living he uses to create forms, which he considers not only modern but also infused with great energy and motion.

Friday, August 14, 2009

'Art must be taught in schools'

Art aficionado Vickram Sethi talks about his forthcoming Art Expo India 2009, MF Husain and Indian art potential.Vickram believes that there is little left to doubt about the fact that NRIs are big art buyers and often drive up auction prices. Indians living abroad want to possess a part of their heritage which is why they buy Indian art. However, the 30 plus generation has changed many things. They are a highly educated group and control their own finances. They hold a different view of Indian culture. With art being available on the net, now NRIs all over the world have access to Indian art.

So, is art elitist? In India we love to talk about our art and cultural heritage, the truth is that very few Indians understand our art and culture. Unfortunately it’s not taught in school. In the west, a student would have to take art as a major subject in their A levels (equivalent to +2) – like drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, pottery, music, dance, drama, something that the student has to do with his own hands or participate in some creative activity.

So, if art was taught in schools, the masses would respect our artistic traditions, craftsmanship and be sensitive to our culture. Only education can bridge this gap. The art fair, however, will give visitors a chance to listen and interact with experts on a variety of topics and help visitors connect with contemporary art.
The Art Expo India 2009 will be held at Nehru Centre Worli in Mumbai from the 25 to 27 September
Source: Times Of India

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A wealth of talent waiting to be unveiled and unleashed

Global art auction houses and event directors are giving a place of pride to Indian artists who with their creative contributions are clearly leaving an indelible mark on the international art scene.

This is the opportunity to soak in the shine and glory of emerging art stars from India. Amidst the euphoria the fact remains that there are many more deserving artists throughout the country, who are still to receive the desired exposure and the much needed platform to showcase their art to the world.

There is still a wealth of hidden talent to be unveiled and presented that can work wonders with the right support from individual and institutional art patrons, including galleries, museums and collectors of Indian art worldwide.

As one sees the sun just rising on the horizon of the glittering Indian art world, it is time to join the creative journey of India’s new talent. Art Expo India 2009 is a concerted effort to frame and contextualize the work by India’s promising younger generation of artists. This marks the beginning of a fulfilling and rewarding journey, involving collectors, serious investors and genuine lovers of art. They all form part of an exciting and enriching voyage in search of new, meaningful expression of creativity.

Art Expo India 2009 is a genuine effort to build a lasting link among keen art connoisseurs, collectors and experts for tapping and honing the hidden gems. The event promises to unveil a wide spectrum of true creative expression, representing the vibrant future of Indian art.

Late Bikash Bhattacharjee’s art on view

Emami Chisel Art is hosting a retrospective of Bikash Bhattacharjee’s works in Kolkata, a city that shaped his artistic philosophy. The late artist was famous for his Kolkata cityscapes and was equally known for his powerful portraits of ordinary people.

Born in Kolkata just a few years before India’s Partition and its attendant violent turn of events including communal killings, he had a tumultuous childhood as he also lost his father early. The uncertain times and the constant struggle for survival left a deep imprint of insecurity and empathy for the underprivileged on his mind. No surprise, they often figured in his works.

Simultaneously, childhood symbols like dolls and balloons recurred in his work. They became metaphors for his sense of loss and the suffering he witnessed around him during his childhood. His `dolls' series was indicative of human depravation. The works from his `tout' series were equally appreciated.

His portraits famously captured every day life on the city streets, his angst about the pain of Partition, and much more. He mostly painted what he saw around him and the way he perceived it, giving a whole new perspective and meaning to everyday happenings in his art. His subject matter was meticulously painted to every detail and invested with a sense of the dramatic.
Female beauty remained a prime preoccupation with him.

The female protagonists were a quaint mixture of sensuality and spirituality. However, he also created a multitude of characters in his canvases with an authentic milieu as a background, only heightening the drama. He not only executed portraits from day to day life, but also painted popular characters from films or theatre.

Often done in a recognizable photo-realistic style, his canvasses carried that trademark somber tone. In his paintings he made use of light & shade to great effect and imparted his own unique dimension to the composition. The artist had mastered the technique. In the process, he created a telling social commentary. His passionate and intense rendition of an ordinary situation charged it with a new set of emotions.

His finesse and ability to decipher and portray psychological undercurrents made Bikash Bhattacharjee one of India’s most remarkable artists of his times.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Does India need a national pavilion at the Venice Biennale? Here’s a contrarian view

In our recent blog, we carried the opinion of noted contemporary artist Jitish Kallat who rued that India had no national pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale even as several of the world's tiniest nations have their very own government sanctioned pavilions. Art expert Tasneem Zakaria Mehta echoed the artist’s sentiments in a Times column. Now, noted cultural theorist and art critic Ranjit Hoskote has joined the debate.

In an article, titled ‘Patriotism and the art pavilion’ carried in the Times of India (9 August 2009), he asks whether India really needs to have a national pavilion at the Biennale. I would offer a contrarian view, he hastens to add.

Here is what Ranjit Hoskote has to say on the issue: “We should not contemplate such a pavilion until we are able to demonstrate the self-critical maturity necessary to transcend local politics and also sustain it at an international level of excellence.”

He explains: “A national pavilion in Venice would register a triumphal note of arrival both for the Indian nation-state and for the Indian art world. But it must embody the soft-power ambitions of the former and the cultural accomplishments of the latter.

"And from bitter experience, we well know that the Indian nation-state seldom articulates such ambitions with wisdom and elegance at high-profile international cultural venues. For instance, similar exercises at the Frankfurt Book Fair have ended in acrimonious displays of internal discord.”

He goes on to add that he writes - not as an observer with nothing at stake - but as a participant who is closely involved in these processes at various levels. From his experience, the first hurdle that he foresees is this: “Who will decide which artist/s will represent India?”

As he points out, a national pavilion cannot really exist without the government's imprimatur, and it’s vulnerable to demands for inclusive representation, in effect, meaning regional quotas. He elaborates: “Many non-governmental curatorial representations of Indian art overseas have suffered equally from the desire to include artists across generations, idioms and regions. This has resulted in an appalling mess with no shape or direction.”

You can read his views on the topic at

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Art Expo India 2009 discussion forum updates

Art Expo India to be held at Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai. India from 25th Sep. 2009 to 27th Sep. 2009. Below are the updates.
The Speaking sessions are as follows:The Key note address will be delivered by Mrs. Kay Saatchi on spotting young talent and building up an art collection.
The other speakers are as follow
Judith Greer (International art collector and author).
Kirsty Ogg (Co Curator of The White chapel gallery).
Ranjit Hoskote & Jitish Kallat.
Sharan Apparao & Menaka Kumari Shah buying art in reccesionary times Moderator Brian Brown.
The aesthetics of the erotic Dr. Alka Pande, Satish Manashinde moderator Anjolie Ela Menon.
Art & Design Bose Krishnamachari ,
architect Shantanu Poredi moderator Rajshree Pathy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

M F Husain, away from India, still in spotlight

Painter M F Husain’s quest to trace his cultural roots coupled with an effortless grasping of diverse cultural influences have made him one of the most recognizable contemporary Indian artists. The legendary artist is all set to release his next movie. It will probably be in cinemas by 2009 end.

Incidentally, his first movie ‘Through the Eyes of a Painter’ won him a Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. Now, his autobiography is being transformed into a movie, which is tentatively titled ‘The Making of the Painter’. Promising actor Shreyas Talpade stars as the young Husain.

Interacting with media persons, he revealed that he is very much desperate to return to his homeland but it would take some more time. Turning nostalgic, he recounted how starting his career as a billboard painter had allowed him to stay afloat during his initial tough days in the city of Mumbai.

He said, "It was necessary since I went to Mumbai penniless. From the age of 11, I was painting billboards to earn my livelihood for 7 years. Though simultaneously I was painting, I never could exhibit those paintings for 18 years. I exhibited them after independence."

In the past, organizations like VHP and Hindu Jagruti Samiti had protested against his paintings of nude Hindu goddess. Husain had apologized and withdrawn those paintings from auction. The Supreme Court of India in September 2008 refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the artist, for allegedly hurting public sentiment through some of his ‘obscene’ paintings.

Controversies continue to chase the eminent artist. His works have been excluded from the India Art Summit for the second year running. The summit had avoided showcasing his works in 2008 apparently for security reasons. Husain, though, has played down the exclusion, terming it all part of a long struggle.

He was quoted as saying, “For the last 15 years my struggle has been going on, with over 800 cases. Only one of them has reached some resolution in the Supreme Court. I understand the situation, as this is nothing new. The whole art world has been facing this problem for some years now.”

Why India had no national pavilion at the Venice Biennale?

Noted contemporary artist Jitish Kallat recently rued that several of the world's tiniest nations have their very own government sanctioned national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, India still remains without one. He rightly pointed to the irony that in this massive global congregation India as a nation did not put up a pavilion.

Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, INTACH Convener and the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s managing trustee, echoed his sentiments in a recent Times column. She wrote: “Sadly, India was not featured among the 77 countries that participated in this very important art event. True, four Indian artists - Sunil Gawde, Sheela Gowda, Nikhil Chopra and Anju Dodiya - were selected by the curator as a part of the International Exhibit, but they represent their own vision and not that of their country’s...

"Even countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, the UAE and Pakistan, where one would have thought contemporary art was not an important focus, had put up put up their pavilions. Unfortunately, the Government of India has neglected any active patronage or promotion of art in the international arena. Without state support it is difficult for galleries or individuals to achieve a high profile on the world stage where so many countries are actively lobbying for their artists and offer substantial state support through museums and international collaborations. "

As she rightly asserted, it’s important for the country to take part in such events because it happens to send a significant message to the world art community about how we tend to view ourselves.

Striking a positive chord, Jitish Kallat stated: “There’s certainly some optimism in the growing representation of Indian artists within the curated section; the Indian National Pavilion will happen when our Government wakes up. Now it is up to the Indian art world to fix the alarm.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

‘India Xianzai’ at Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Shanghai

Some of the hottest names from the current Indian art scene are attached to an ambitious art show in Shanghai, entitled ‘India Xianzai’ (India Now). It includes one of the largest ever Indian art collection ever displayed in China.

Among the artists participating in the show are Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini-Kallat, T V Santhosh, Subodh Gupta, Hema Upadhyay, Riyas Komu, Vivek Vilasini, Jagannath Panda, and Thukral & Tagra. This sparkling survey of Indian art also includes some superb work by artists such as Anju Dodiya, Hema Upadhyay, Probir Gupta, Justin Ponmany, Schandra Singh, Suhasini Kejriwal, Mithu Sen, Chitra Ganesh, Fariba Alam, Vibha Galhotra, Susanta Mandal and Suryakant Lokhande. They are all internationally established artists known for their wonderful work in a wide range of media.

Their works provide a glimpse of the growing presence and importance of Indian contemporary art worldwide. Importantly, ‘India Xianzai’ is not just any exhibition but a major museum show. It’s on view at Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Shanghai. As mentioned above, it’s the most comprehensive showcase of Indian contemporary art in China. The museum is owned by Samuel King.

The show comes at a crucial time when Asian art scene is evolving, especially in terms of price points. In China, there’s immense interest in Indian art. The market experts there are keen on checking where Indian art stands vis-a-vis Chinese art. The show will give them a fair idea of the current state of the Indian art market. Incidentally, prices of contemporary Chinese art have zoomed up whereas Indian art still remains very much affordable in comparative terms.

Diana Freundl, art director of Art+ Shanghai, along with Alexander Keefe visualized the ambitious art project while earlier being associated with MoCA. The curator has been quoted as saying in an interview: “This exhibit touches upon the topic of cultural assimilation that concerns not only India, but also many expanding Asian countries.”

The show is an outcome of efforts by Seven Art Limited and ICIA (Institute of Contemporary Indian Art) The ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations).has played a role too. The Indian consul general located in Shanghai has been extremely supportive of the effort.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tyeb Mehta

A blockage in the heart led to the demise of an Indian legend -- artist Tyeb Mehta was in his 80s when he passed away on July 2. With his long-ish hair and wizened face painting a picture of old-world cultured grace, he created works that bring a sense of violence, mutilation and grief to the forefront. While many might feel his works are too flat to really evoke such feelings in a viewer, he has left this world as undoubtedly one of the nation's renowned artists. Mehta shot to fame as late as 2003 only when he smashed international ceilings on behalf of the Indian artist community, whether through his Celebration that was auctioned at Christie's for an unprecedented $300,000 (2003) or his Mahishahura (2005) that was the first Indian work of art that was sold for $1.5million. His works are peopled with bodies that speak of torture in simple fuss-free lines and solid block colours. Art historians have mentioned the deep effect communal violence had on Mehta, explaining the recurring theme. Friends like Anjolie Ela Menon and Ram Kumar prefer to remember him as a true artist who did not lunge to take advantage of the booming art market.
Few will remember him as a filmmaker as his stint in cinema lasted a brief while, only to be taken over by his love for painting. His film Kadool on the common man won a critical award in 1970 and was discussed by our film maestro, Satyajit Ray in his book Our FIlms, Their Films. Had the times allowed it financially and socially, perhaps Mehta would have been a brilliant director with a bank of memorable films behind him instead. But the creative instinct does not change from medium to medium; we have his encased in bold canvases that speak volumes of his angst at social ills.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Get an insight into contemporary art trends at Art Expo India 2009

Art Expo India 2009 is a step forward in the highly fulfilling and rewarding journey that involves serious investors, collectors and genuine lovers of art. We treat them all as an integral part of an exciting and enriching voyage in search of new, meaningful expression of creativity.

Art Expo India 2009 strives to serve as a link among artists, experts and connoisseurs for an insight into the contemporary art trends. The event will serve as a dynamic link for a dialogue among them. It’s a complete, comprehensive source for understanding art – its past, present and future

Last year’s exhibition proved to be a major success. And this year it's going to get even bigger with several of the prominent galleries set to feature their collections. Importantly, Art Expo India 2009 has a solid logistical support of Trade & Technology Exposition Co. (India) Pvt. Ltd. GIFTEX, their flagship exhibition, is now in its 21st year. With over 70 Shows to their credit they possess the requisite experience backed by a thorough understanding of the art market.

Mr. Vickram Sethi, who heads and runs the organization, is an established art dealer. In his two decade long career, he has set up a series of art shows, events and exhibitions. His expertise and experience drives a highly dynamic team. Before setting up art expo it had visited art fairs across the globe, speaking to both galleries and art buyers to understand their needs.

Art Expo India 2009 will offer a space for all art lovers to share their ideas and thoughts. It promises to be a complete creative expression. It promises to be a vibrant platform for exchange of ideas, opinions and thoughts through its creatively charged interface.