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)

Day two at AEI: Dr. Rashmi Poddar in conversation with Judith Greer

Collecting has been the journey of my life, quipped art expert Judith Greer in conversation with Dr. Rashmi Poddar on the second day of Art Expo India, The talk was aptly titled ‘Art in Life: the daily pleasure of collecting, because that’s what it really means to the avid art collector.

Revealing how she took to collecting art, 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 said: “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.”

Explaining the importance of developing a culture conducive to collecting, the art scholar 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. Ideally, a broader and wider level of patronage is important to create conditions conducive for an artist to make good work of art.”

Summing up the essence of art collecting, Judith Greer said: “The key is working out how you are going to live with pieces of art you collect. You need to know the methods to preserve them. You’ve to harbor a strong sense of attachment to your collection. Art can be a very personal part of your life to be treasured forever.

In her concluding remarks, Priyanka Sethi said, “The conversation made us aware of the strong underlying link between philanthropy and art. The art expo, I hope, will play a role in this process, and believe, constructive individual as well as collective contribution will make a difference to the Indian art scene.”

Delving into ‘The aesthetics of the erotic’

With help of some visually stimulating slides, 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’, on the second day at AEI. Following are some of her key observations on the ‘erotic’ element in Indian art – past and present.

• From earliest times that one can think of, Indian art and Literature has not only been preoccupied with, but also in many ways obsessed with the element of erotica. Imagery both direct and indirect to the sensual and the erotic dots the canvas of Indian art, particularly the ancient and the medieval.

• ‘Rasa’ is the basis of the aesthetic appreciation of Indian art - be it the visual or the performing arts. The ‘shringara’ or the erotic is also the ‘rasaraja’ or the king of the sentiments.

• A rich collection of works exist in which ‘shringara’ or erotica attains a high level of visibility, not only in painting and sculpture - of which Konarak and Khajurhao are brilliant examples of the erotic sentiment in the visual arts - but also in texts like the Kama Sutra.

• Indian Temple Architecture was one of the most important vehicles for the celebration of Indian erotica. In fact, the architecture of the temple speaks of the correspondences with the human coital union.

• The tantric philosophy spilled over into the Indian miniature tradition of painting, be it Rajasthani or the Pahari miniature schools.

• Later, artists like Souza focused on the aesthetics of the ugly, as she put it, in the aspects of harmony, proportion, looks etc. The legendary artist depicted the naked body from an altogether different perspective.

• The contemporary Indian artists tend to deal with erotica in a completely different way. Though linked with the spirit of traditional Indian folk and tribal paintings, the visual language of the modern Indian artist has changed. It witnesses a near-complete break with the visuality of traditional Indian painting and sculpture even while retaining some kind of a link with the metaphysical concepts of Indian Erotica.

Veteran artist Anjolie Ela Menon and renowned legal expert Satish Maneshinde also formed part of this interesting debate on the intriguing aesthetics of the erotic in Indian art tradition.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The much-awaited event on India’s art calendar starts at Nehru Centre

AEI, the much-awaited event on India’s art calendar, got off to a rousing start at Nehru Centre, Mumbai. The who’s who of the art world including renowned artists, art experts, collectors, patrons and aspiring investors thronged the venue to celebrate the throbbing spirit of modern and contemporary Indian art.

Spelling out the agenda, Mr. Vickram Sethi of The Arts Trust, stated at the inaugural session: “A number of free-wheeling conversations are being held to promote the emerging contemporary Indian art in the backdrop of its relationship with the international art scene. A keynote address from Kay Saatchi on how to spot new talent and build an art collection is first in the series of talks over the next couple of days. She agreed to come to the art expo without any precondition owing to her commitment to the cause of art.”

Art Expo India aims to offer the wave of new Indian talent a perfect launch pad on the domestic and international market. An encouragement to young painters so that collectors notice them coupled with a boost to the culture of value-based investing in art is reflected in AEI’s program, which features a series of insightful talks on art related themes.

Acknowledged for her insight of contemporary art trends, Kay Saatchi discussed the nuances of the fine art of collecting art in conversation with in the inaugural session. She has co-curated several exhibitions for the Saatchi Collection. She vigorously promotes young artists in her role as the founding director of the Artists and Collectors Exchange.

Art expert Mallika Sagar Advani conversed with Kay Saatchi who elaborated on the intricate maze of relationships between an artist and a collector, between a dealer and an artist, and a dealer and a collector, hinting that the interlinking of interests has to be based on trust. She provided valuable tips on becoming a successful collector and also offered tips to aspiring curators and gallery owners.

Kay Saatchi reveals the beauty and joy of collecting art at the inaugural talk session

During her conversation with Mallika Sagar Advani at the inaugural talk session at Art Expo India 2009, art expert Kay Saatchi revealed at the outset that anticipation is the key when it comes to building your art collection.

She added: “The process involves immense amount of groundwork – visiting art schools, checking out shows at art galleries, spotting the new talent, and finding out who are the next art stars.” She narrated how she studied close to 600 artists’ works to pick her top 20 as part of a similar such exercise.

What are the attributes to watch out for in an emerging artist, she was asked, According to Kay Saatchi, coupled with a certain amount of skill, what she looks for is the artist’s commitment and passion to make art. Integrity and determination are necessary along with the natural talent, she emphasized.

Mallika Sagar Advani’s pertinent queries regarding the current complex dynamics of contemporary art and its evolving structure prompted responses from Kay Saatchi based on her deep understanding and practical experience. The conversation also touched upon various aspects like her role as a curator, her involvement in an artist’s career, the broader market mechanics, the transition to auction dominated art market from a gallery dominated one, the changed norms of collecting, maintaining and upgrading an art collection.

The moderator also tracked Kay Saatchi’s own evolution as an art collector-curator, seeking her opinion on things that create value in an artwork. It was an engrossing and entertaining discussion as Priyanka Sethi summed it up at the end, stating: “The conversation was stimulating, honest and extremely informative. The more, we think, we know about the art world, we find something new, something more interesting and something more exciting, and something even shocking every time. That’s the beauty and joy of art.” But then we need helping hand from experts like Mallika Sagar Advani and Kay Saatchi to discover it.

The scheduled talks at Art Expo India on September 26 are as follows:

• 12:00 am – 1:00 pm: 'Art in Life: the daily pleasure of collecting', Dr. Rashmi Poddar in conversation with by Judith Greer

• 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: 'The aesthetics of the erotic', Dr. Alka Pande, Satish Maneshinde and Anjolie Ela Menon

• 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm: '(X)topia: A Search for Place, A Place for Search', a Conversation between Jitish Kallat and Ranjit Hoskote.

The DNA lauds AEI as a showcase of cutting edge art works

'Admire to your art's content' is the apt title of a news report (dated: September 25) by Francis H D’Sa in DNA, a leading national daily. It mentions:

"The three-day long Indian Art Expo 2009 - one of the largest art fairs devoted to modern and contemporary Indian art - opened at Nehru Centre, Worli on Friday (September 25). "
Outlining the uniqueness of the expo, Francis H D’Sa notes that the event now in its second year now, showcases a wide mix of eclectic, exciting and cutting edge art works. The writer added:
"A series of interactive sessions with international experts like Kay Saatchi, Judith Greer, Princess Tatjana Zu Schaumburg-Lippe and Kirsty Ogg demystify the language of art. The art expo is also a high-profile meeting ground for art dealers, gallery owners, museum curators, consultants, collectors besides artists, and a shopping event that presents a wide array of works by modern, contemporary and upcoming artists -- ranging from paintings and sculptures to prints and photography.

The expo has been organised by Vickram Sethi who heads the Trade & Technology Exposition Co (India) Pvt Ltd. "In comparison to the international art markets, the Indian art market is in a very nascent stage. Given the present technological advancement, it is only a matter of time before the market grows at a rapid pace," said Sethi. "I expect a bigger response since the other markets are down; there are more chances of people investing in art than there were before,"
he added.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

International galleries to feature at Art Expo India, starting tomorrow

Apart from Gallery Archana, there are a host of international galleries that are going to take part in the art expo. Bangladesh based Jolrong and Dubai's 1x1, as already informed, are going to feature works of talented artists at Art Expo India 2009.

The prominent galleries are very much keen on using AEI as a perfect launch pad to make their mark in India. They will come up with an exquisite collection, reflecting a radical stream of thought. Harboring a vision to diffuse the passion for art within the global community, both the galleries bring exciting works of highly talented artists.

Spotting the trend, Riddhi Doshi of The DNA India notes in a recent article, entitled ‘International edge’, "For the second time around, the expo will be held in Mumbai. Three participating international galleries open up about their expectations from the Mumbai art market...”

First making mention of Artseefield Gallery, Switzerland, the writer points out that their aim of coming to Mumbai is to interact with new collectors in India who have an open mind and are keen on exploring great new art, as a gallery representative adds,

"When I was first looking for modern art in India some 14 years ago, it was hard to find any gallery with contemporary art. Since then, the situation has changed and the rising popularity of Indian contemporary art made Indians aware of modern art. We intend to bring some of the art from our country to them. Also, it is an opportunity to find Indian contemporary art to be represented by our Zurich gallery."
On the other hand, 1X1 from Dubai will showcase an interesting oeuvre in metal, tar and wax combined with sounds and digital imagery of artist Chittrovanu Mazumdar. A gallery representative states, "We mostly deal with Indian contemporary art. Naturally, the Indian market is extremely important to us. So we are promoting the work we do in Mumbai."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pink Ginger Arts and The Arts Trust: Two ventures that enhance trust and value in the domain of art

Pink Ginger Arts (PGA):
The venture, a natural extension of a relationship started three decades ago, owes its origin to Abhay Choksi. An ardent art lover and collector, he had initiated a fruitful relationship with art and artists long back. This culminated into forming of Pink Ginger Arts. The promoters of the gallery cherish and value the relationship with senior artists and also strive to build the same connection with new & upcoming artists.

PGA, an online art gallery, exhibits and promotes artists who work in various styles and genre. The gallery collection comprises works picked up from all corners of India. The flavor of the collection is eclectic, and captures the essence of true India, diversified and yet united in so many ways.

PGA is a genuine fine art destination that unravels to an art collector a rich and exquisite treasure, comprising a marvelous blend of both, works of known and upcoming artists. The gallery helps them put their best foot forward to progress ahead on the realms of art. It exists as an art hub where artists, art connoisseurs and collectors, all gather to celebrate the spirit of art wherein each work of art reinstates a special allegory or thought, each in its own special way of embracing life and existence.

The Arts Trust:
Set up by Mr Vickram Sethi in 1990, The Arts Trust established itself as the best source for quality works of art by distinguished artists. The venture has been actively engaged in promoting Contemporary Indian Art.

Combining a deep knowledge and appreciation of Indian art with market reach, The Arts Trust has curated several thematic and generic exhibitions. It focuses on the promotion of innovative art by established as well as young artists. Events presented by The Arts Trust range from shows catering to large audiences and single-evening events tailor-made for select people.

Besides organizing art exhibitions that showcase a wide range of talent and creativity, it also provides art lovers and patrons alike with an opportunity to see promising works in different genres. Authentication, Certification and Valuation; Restoration and Preservation; Corporate Sourcing / Art consultancy / Art Portfolio Management form part of the services offered by The Arts Trust.

Jolrong keen to diffuse the passion for Bangladeshi art within the global community

Fine arts movement in India’s close neighboring country, Bangladesh has witnessed several influences – local and global. It has been greatly influenced by two milestone events – the mass movement that took place in 1969 and the momentous liberation war of 1971. After an intense struggle of over nine months, the country became independent. Two contrasting emotions of freedom and a sense of loss are evident in the paintings and sculptures since then.

To acquaint Indian art lovers with art traditions of the country, a prominent gallery from Bangladesh is participating in Art Expo India 2009. It brings an interesting assembly of talented artists whose works will be showcased at the event.

Among some of the noteworthy artists associated with Jolrong are Rokeya Sulatana, Musrat Reazi, Dilara Begum Jolly, Mostafa Zaman, Najib Tareque, Atia Islam Anne and Subrata Das.Their work is largely based on prevailing social realities. They together represent the contemporary art trends of Bangladesh.

Keen to make its presence felt in the international art market, the gallery thinks Mumbai is the right city to in this endeavor. Jolrong believes that it’s their duty to be part of the development process of an empowered and progressive community of talented free thinkers. From this point of view, AEI provides it a perfect launch pad.

The gallery has launched a fine collection of works that reflect a radical stream of thought. Their desire is to diffuse the passion for Bangladeshi art within the global community. Jolrong strives to act as the artists’ and art lovers' window to the world.

As their website states: “Our goal is to make it (Bangladeshi art) among the oldest in world history, and make it accessible to anyone in any corner of the earth. In this way, we harness the talent of the artists in order to bring you a treasure house of prints and originals of select Bangladeshi artworks.”

Be part of Indian art’s growth story with Indian Art Ideas and Galerie Sara Arakkal

Galerie Sara Arakkal:

The gallery strives to promote Indian contemporary art. Its emphasis is on artists from the southern states of India. In order to ensure greater appreciation of art, the gallery has ventured into creating affordable artifacts, reproductions and limited edition portfolios.
While the works of established and upcoming artists is its mainstay, the gallery gives equal importance to the craftsmanship.

Spelling out its programs, the gallery website mentions: “While promoting known Indian artists works, Galerie Sara Arakkal (GSA) also supports younger artists in their quest to establish themselves. Many programs like art workshops, slide shows, group discussions, and interaction with senior artists are held for this purpose.”

GSA has an esthetically custom built exhibition space of more than 1500 sq.ft. Its unique Art Shop features artifacts and creative crafts including graphics, ceramic mugs, copper etchings, and other designer products. These are created using drawings and paintings of well known artists. It has released publications related to art and artists from India.

Indian Art Ideas :
The art venture aims to bring the vibrant colors of art to each and everyone’s life by leveraging the reach and power of internet. It’s an aggregation of finest pieces of art in all encompassing forms.

Indian Art Ideas endeavors to create a collaborative platform for both art lovers/ collectors and artists to share with each other their experiences and works for the development and growth of Indian art. This has been the guiding thought in creating the portal. As its introductory note states:
“Indian Art Ideas lets collectors display and share their collections and to buy sell art from each other directly. It serves as a platform where artists can display their works to discerning collectors by setting their own prices.”
Their inventory features original Contemporary Indian Art; Modern Art; Traditional art ranging from Minature to Tanjore and Madhibani to Batik and even the Palm leaf paintings.

A mix of Indian modernists and contemporary artists at AEI courtesy Priyasri Art Gallery

A mix of recent and trophy works of renowned artists like K.G. Subramanyan, Jogen Chowdhury, Alok Bal, Chirag Patel, Hrushikesh Biwal and Uday Mondal will be displayed by Priyasri Art Gallery at Art Expo India 2009, an annual showcase of the best in Modern and Contemporary Art.

Check Anusuya Mohapatra’s works that portray a female protagonist hanging on to a latticed doorway in a manner, which indicates certain desperation. Also on view are master colorist Akbar Padamsee’s drawings and paintings that pulsate with throbbing energy. Do not miss out artist Jaggannath Mohapatra’s works. He follows his inner instinct, and remains faithful to his style and subject instead of resorting to gimmicks in them.

The collection reflects the spirit of Priyasri Art Gallery, a vibrant art space founded in 2003. Extremely responsive to the fast-evolving language of art, its vision has always been to showcase each medium of art with élan, be it Ceramic, Photography, Sculpture, Installation, Video, Graphic Printmaking, Paintings, or Drawing.

The gallery has organized exhibits by renowned Indian modernists such as Paritosh Sen apart from shows by contemporary artists like Arunanshu Choudhury, Nikhileswar Baruah, Sarika Mehta etc. For the past seven years it has been hosting annual shows for fresh graduates from Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda.

Priyasri Art Gallery has been nurturing a gamut of artistic expressions and practice through an artist’s studio facility in the art hub of Baroda with its AQ@Priyasri and has also launched a studio dedicated to printmaking. Priyasri believes that ‘Art’ is for everyone. Its effort has been to build bridges and reach out to the wider audience. In this endeavor, the gallery is working towards Installation in public spaces and has also conducted a pilot program at a Municipal school in Mumbai ‘art and creative thinking’ with the help of artist Akbar Padamsee.

Watch out for Art Musings and Marigold Fine Art Gallery at the Art Expo

Marigold Fine Art:
Marigold Fine Art is among the pioneer in the domain of showcasing as well as retailing Contemporary Modern European Art here in India. The gallery offers perfect showcase for works of some of the Great European Contemporary Masters such as Picasso, Arman and Salvador Dali. It is equally committed to promoting renowned European Artists like Stéphane Cipre, Mazel-Jalix, David Kracov, Franck Tordjmann and Jörg Döring, whose works have shown appreciation over the years.

Always looking for new talent particularly in the Contemporary Modern European Art, Marigold Fine Art is simultaneously expanding the collections of the great Masters. The aim is to respond to the aspirations of art collectors across the globe including India. The gallery remains at the forefront of identifying and obtaining rare artworks of masterful European talent.

The venture conceptualized by Gaurav Assomull (CEO) and his brother Vickram Assomull (COO) opened its first gallery has opened in New Delhi. Both are avid art lovers-collectors and are committed to bring and make accessible the work of innovative and illustrious artists from Europe. Based at The Claridges Hotel, Marigold Fine Art Gallery exhibits a wide array of original Paintings, original certified Lithographs and different genre of Art by European Artists.

Art Musings:
Art Musings is among the first galleries that opened shop in South Mumbai's vivacious art district. The gallery was founded in 1999. For well over a decade, it has been responsive to the emergent vocabularies constantly shaping contemporary Indian art.Art Musings has played a major role in nurturing a sizzling spectrum of artistic practices.

The gallery is known to host exhibitions by renowned Indian modernists like S. H. Raza, M. F. Husain, F. N. Souza, Ram Kumar, K. G. Subramanyan, Akbar Padamsee, Sakti Burman, Jogen Chowdhury and Anjolie Ela Menon. Alongside the greats, there are shows by contemporary artists including Nalini Malani, Reena Saini Kallat, Baiju Parthan, Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman, Smriti Dixit, Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Maya Burman, Shibu Natesan, Raghava KK and Suneel Mamadapur.

The constant endeavor of Art Musings is ‘to take the works of these artists, and others, to a collector base spread across Asia, North America and Europe.

Access a wonderful resource to decorate your walls at AEI 2009

From its humble origin as a form of documentation, photography has now assumed importance as a form of fine art, timeless and resonant in nature… There’s a reflection of the trend at Art Expo India 2009 with Wonderwall, India's premier website dedicated to fine art photography.

Wonderwall, as the names suggests, is a wonderful platform that showcases established names in the field of photography and also introduces on a regular basis upcoming photographers through various exhibits and events. The website is committed to making photography a truly accessible form of art not only to eclectic art connoisseurs, but also to the masses not keen to know more about the art at large.

Spelling out the core of their ecommerce venture, the website notes:
“We hope to be instrumental in getting people to understand photography as a medium and develop people's interest in fine art photography. We organize exhibitions, to target people who would like a tactile experience before they buy fine art photography.”
Wonderwall makes it a point to offer original photographs only in limited editions to retain their exclusivity. An original photograph is one printed by the artist. Just to elaborate, ”with digital processes, originals are not handcrafted but are approved and signed by the artist. A reproduction is essentially a second or further generation from the original photo. It can be photographic or ink-based like a poster, card, calendar, or lithograph.”

Among the photo categories they have on offer are Abstract, Architecture, Avian & Animals, Body Forms; Color; Monochrome; Nature & Landscapes; People & Portraits; Still Life; and Streets & City Scapes. And the artists they have in their collection are S. Paul, Ravi Agarwal, Sandeep Biswas, Bijoy Chowdhury, Pradeep Dasgupta, Manoj Kumar Jain, Leena Kejriwal, Dinesh Khanna, Saadiya Kochar, Vikas Malhotra, among others. Wonderwall is a truly wonderful resource to decorate your walls.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Galleries at AEI: Peep into dazzling Dhoomimal

One of the most prominent and oldest galleries in India, Dhoomimal was established by Shri Ram Babu Jain in 1936. An ardent art lover, he was also into printing & publishing business before switching to an art venture. His keen appreciation for art brought him in touch with several leading artists of those times. This interaction gave rise to Dhoomimal Gallery in New Delhi’s Connaught Place area.

To begin with, it displayed the works of many well-known painters like Jamini Roy and Sailoz Mukherjea. Dhoomimal soon became a hub for diverse art practices as well as a meeting ground for the capital's top artists. In the late thirties it supported a forum for the like-minded individuals that sponsored art exhibitions and organized musical evenings.

Shri Jain initiated publication of monographs on artists like Jamini Roy, Sailoz Mukherjea and Abdur Rahman Chugtai. The gallery acquired an all India focus in the forties. After Shri Jain’s untimely demise, the leadership passed into the hands of Ravi Jain, his son who had just returned from the US. The gallery was rejuvenated under his leadership.

Dhoomimal entered a glorious phase in the 70's, by virtue of its association with artists such as J. Swaminathan, Shanti Dave, M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, Krishen Khanna, H.A. Gade, among a host of others. Its collection boasts of the artworks by stalwarts including Souza, J. Swaminathan, Gade, Anjolie Ela Menon, Bimal Das Gupta, Krishen Khanna etc.

Under the leadership of mother-son duo of Ms Uma Jain and Uday Jain, the gallery continues to be one of torchbearers of the Indian contemporary art not only within the country, but also abroad. It promotes genuine talent by offering scholarships to the deserving artists many of whom like Hemraj, Somnath Singh, M.S.C. Satya Sai and G.R. Iranna are now top names in the contemporary art world.

Latitude 28 set to unveil an eclectic mix of emerging and established artists at AEI

The galleries participating in Art Expo India 2009 see it as a perfect opportunity to present the best of their collection and interact with the art lovers. Latitude 28 is no exception. All set to make its presence felt at the second edition of Art Expo India, renowned art curator-historian Bhavna Kakar will unveil an eclectic mix of both emerging and established artists under her art venture.

Bhavna Kakar is known to be an authority on Modern & Contemporary art with a focus on the Indian subcontinent, in particular. Under the able leadership of this renowned New Delhi-based art expert, Latitude 28 has already drawn the attention of art lovers. Its' committed to bringing forth challenging and evocative art in a wide array of mediums.

Latitude 28 is keen to introduce different genres of not only Indian but also global art practices. Its aim is to highlight the dynamism of current art practices as with the recent show ‘RE-CLAIM / RE-CITE / RE-CYCLE’, involving over thirty works in various media such as watercolors, drawings, photographs, videos, digital prints and paintings based on the concept of recycling.

Committed to providing a bankable platform to young talent from India and other countries, the art venture is looking to encourage broad-based art practices ranging from photography, installations and video, to painting and sculpture. By spotting latent talent and anticipating trends, Latitude 28 is in a position to exploit the potential of art as an asset to enjoy and benefit from even in today’s challenging times.

It has hosted works of artists such as Prajakta Palav, Manjunath Kamath, Justin Ponmany, Atul Bhalla, Pooja Iranna, Alok Bal, Farhad Hussain, Binu Bhaskar, George Martin, Sandeep Pisalkar, Minal Damani, Apurba Nandi, and seniors like Nasreen Mohamedi, Bhupen Khakhar, G R Santosh, Ganesh Haloi and Prabhakar Kolte, among others.

Watch out for Latitude 28 at AEI…

Masters @ Ashok Art Gallery : Chandrasekhar Rao (1940-2004) : ART EXPO INDIA 2009

Masters @ Ashok Art Gallery : Chandrasekhar Rao (1940-2004)
Chandrasekhar Rao was born in a small village of Polasara in Ganjam district of Orissa. As a Handicraft Designer, Chandrasekhar created 4000 creative designs from the existing patterns of the tradition. His association with the traditional craftsmen of different trades brought him near to their crafts as well as life. Chandrasekhar Rao was trained in the Indian Painting (Shantiniketan style) from Government Art College at Khallikote and possibly worked under the best of Gurus those were available in Orissa. While learning the art of painting, he was much into depicting the mythical subject matters to start with and later moved on into unexplored areas of human life, nature and their relationships.

Looking back at Chandrasekhar’s life, he seems to be comfortable with the immediate village environment and its habitants, and they are his chief protagonists through out, whether it is a rendering of Gita Govinda or Krishnalila; Village pond or a portrait or any subject matter for that matter. I am privileged to be with him, observing him closely, in life and on work. Every bit of experience is artistic; as he explains, ‘if you want to exaggerate a curve in a figure, just try it yourself to a maximum stretch and never beyond because bending, twisting, stretching or any thing of similar type should not affect the rhythm of the form, and it applies to a smile, yes’. One of the characters of his painting is line and one can see the beauty of an comprehensive line from one end of the tassar canvas to the other, breaking free- one rhythm, one stop respiration and the form emerges from it with tremendous force and energy - a real unique signature.

Colours and compositions were derived from Orissa and its several art forms. His introduction to the handicrafts, as being the Designer, helped him to acquire more knowledge and he transformed the cultural forms in contemporary art equally intelligently. Many artists, we have seen searching for the title after the composition and its validity, but Chandrasekhar always knew what he was doing. He never painted the elements or composed; he rather lived, enjoyed and interacted with the forms in the painting, making it a part of the entire scheme. Precisely, he was one of those painted characters who lived out of the canvas, with us and his family.

Many artists, toward the last phase of his life, started to criticise his work as a standard (as in ISI) falling short of understanding his ideas and creativity. Some have started to imitate him for livelihood and saleability even after knowing that his works cannot be replicated, but Chandrasekhar Rao was the one who lived above these petty state of affairs during his life, and will always remain out of reach of such traumatic human behaviour. He was with us all till 2004.

Chandrasekhar Rao’s achievements include, besides being the Handicraft Designer, an art teacher (for children too), the Chairmanship of Working Artists Association of Orissa. He has received Awards by State Lalit Kala for four times; Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta; AIFACS, New Delhi; Bombay Art Society, Bombay; SCZCC, Nagpur; and many more. He has exhibited in Museum of Fine Arts, Chandigarh; Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendra, Bhubaneswar; Bajaj Art Gallery and Jehangir Art Gallery Bombay; Crimson, Bangalore; Birla Academy of Art, Kolkata and many more.

This special collection has came directly from his son Sri Tarakeswar Rao, collected and available at Ashok Art Gallery.

The Ashok Art Gallery is internationally known for one of its most important holdings: more than 2000 major works by the world's most significant Artists.Over the past years, as Ashok Art Gallery has become a major centre for contemporary visual art, the Gallery has built a strong collection of contemporary work of different artists, we became a sponsor of the STANDUP-SPEAKOUT Artshow, Organized by Art Of Living Foundation and United Nations.Organized an International Contenmporary Art Exhibition including artists from USA, The Nederlands, Pakistan and India.We have also participated at Art Expo India Mumbai and India Art Summit New Delhi.

A spotlight on galleries participating in Art Expo India 2009: Apparao and Sakshi

Apparao Galleries:

The renowned gallery baseed in Chennai provides a window to the exciting trends that emerge from South India. With the globalization of art coupled with a keen interest in contemporary art, Sharan Apparao has built Apparao Galleries into one of India's prominent art galleries.

The gallery has promoted some of the most renowned Indian contemporary artists. In particular, it caters to the aesthetic needs of the Indian Diaspora. Originally known as 'The Gallery', the venture was launched in 1984. The website notes:

"The gallery has the basis to source quality artworks for their auction house. It's nurtured with passion by Sharan Apparao who firmly believes in 'art for art's sake'. The gallery looks at art with an open mind and continues to inspire artists and art lovers from all walks of life."

The art space deals with established artists while also building unknown emerging artists into 'brands' in the art world. Apparao Galleries understand the needs of the collectors and acts as a consultant to authenticate and document all aspects of contemporary art for private and corporate collectors.

Sakshi Gallery:
The gallery announced the opening of its first overseas branch in Taipei, Taiwan in January this year. The inaugural show featured works of acclaimed Indian artists such as Ravinder Reddy, Rekha Rodwittiya, Chintan Upadhyay, Sunil Gawde, Riyas Komu, Sumedh Rajendran, Surendran Nair and Valay Shende.

Commenting on the venture, director of the gallery Geetha Mehra had then noted,
“The cultures of India and Taiwan are similar which has contributed towards evoking a greater affinity to the art of one another. The city has a lot of potential. Not only does it have a long history of very informed and committed collectors but it also enjoys a vibrant and cutting-edge art scene, both of which we’ll like to partake of.”
The gallery has on offer an extensive record of India’s contemporary art scene. Some of the artists whose works find place in the gallery collection are Laxman Shrestha, Manisha Parekh, Manjit Bawa, Minal Damani, Mithu Sen, Nalini Malani, Natraj Sharma, Navjot, Nilima Sheikh, Palaniappan r.m, Paramjit Singh, Ram Kumar and Ranbir Singh Kaleka among others.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A new name on the shining horizon of modern and Contemporary Indian art

Gallery BMB is a new name on the shining horizon of modern and Contemporary Indian art.

Located on the ground floor of the antiquated Queens Mansion (also home to the well-known Chemould Prescott gallery), BMB is spread out over 4,000 sq. ft. It’s a collaboration of artist-curator Bose Krishnamachari, Devaunshi Mehta, Yash and Avanti Birla. The gallery is located in central Mumbai’s Fort district.

It will be exhibiting both monograph and group exhibitions as part of its long-term program. The curated exhibits will comprise a selected group of International contemporary artists’ work. These will reflect the vision of the gallery to work with artists whose practices, in spite of receiving prestigious acclaim from major institutions, is yet to be displayed in India and alongside their peers from India and Asia.

Apart from presenting groundbreaking exhibitions, the new space will accommodate a specialist art bookshop with a dedicated reading area and an onsite café. The BMB’s holistic concept is designed as a truly interactive space, the first of its kind in Mumbai and in India.

As an accommodating resource, the gallery and its public areas will act as a pillar for the artistic community; a place where artists, collectors and students could meet and gravitate for differing reasons from research to browsing to collecting.

The website elaborates that it is ‘the first to showcase many international artists of the highest caliber who, despite critical acclaim from major prestigious institutions, have yet to be shown on this continent.’

These international artists, along with outstanding emerging Indian artists, are part of BMB’s exciting and dynamic program. Gallery BMB blurs traditional boundaries between an art space and a commercial gallery. Watch out for the gallery’s featured artists and programs at Art Expo India 2009.

Their inaugural exhibition, which we have already refered to, is being curated by Berlin/ London based curator, Shaheen Merali, at whose invitation a group of renowned artists from each of the five continents has been selected (two from Asia).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Riyas Komu and others explore ‘The Dark Science of Five Continents’

Gallery BMB, a new ambitious art space, presents its inaugural exhibition. The exhibition, entitled ‘The Dark Science of Five Continents’ (21 September – 7 November 2009), marks a significant chapter for the Indian art world, as a press release put it.

The participating artists are Jake and Dinos Chapman, Jon Kessler, George Osodi, Wang Qingsong and Tunga, and our very own Riyas Komu. Their individuated and often nuanced practices have been critically received and with their visionary morphism, they have articulated a re-examination of atrocity within our rapidly mutating epoch.

The exhibition, like the gallery, is geared to speak of our times.A curatorial note mentions: “The artists’ visual notation provides a contemporary global anthology of assumptions falling apart, of places in jeopardy and ensuing disasters; their visionary inquisitions result in death tropes which climax as portrayals of our perplexing times in an anxious blend of materials and positions.

The innocent visitor’s casual visits to the gallery in order to search for some kind of meaning in these contracting times can become affected by their gestalt response to our wounded generation, for whom inane trust has been replaced by an ever-increasing gradation of excusatory national iniquities.

The artists’ proclivious vigilance, often viewed as granite-hardened nihilism, provides a forceful series of positions by which to examine the malpractices of contemporaneous global re-adjustments in all areas of our realities.These artists remain highly qualified in articulating a raw semblance of sexually violated spaces, as well as allowing for a prolonged look at the reality that results in our quest for a world in mass consumption.

In these works, the use of aesthetics charged with its soul-searching context allows us to go beyond posturing in encountering art; it is even fashioned in jeopardy to further threaten our terms of engagement and to affront us in realizing the malaise. From cultic symbolism, scientific meandering sources and exploited bodies that float in philosophic predicaments, a dark science of five continents and a tonsure of humanity emerges…

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heart on Art collaborates with AEI

To promote art in every conceivable form Art Expo India 2009 has struck meaningful partnerships .Its association with Heart on Art is a testimony to this.

The London-based art initiative arranges exhibitions, promotes talented artists, comes up with thematic art events on regular basis, and collaborates with corporations to build a cultural connection. Priyanka Sethi is the brain behind it. A keen follower of contemporary art trends, she has played a significant role in evolving themes and outlining ideas for art talks and seminars at AEI.

Indeed, her keen following of trends is reflected in her efforts to generate an interest in contemporary art and connect the broader art world with unknown markets, segments and people. Using her insight of contemporary art world, Priyanka Sethi has come up with a fine blend of speakers and panelists.

“Our underlying theme is to stimulate an interest and passion for art across the many boundaries. Art is to be experienced, we make this experience better!”

...this is how Heart on Art declares its genuine intent to work in the field of art. In their permanent collections, there are Agathe Sorel and Ya’akov Paintings, whereas there are Sanjeev Verma’s works in their rotating collection.

Summing up its spirit, the website features apt quotes from two legendary artists. The one by Leonardo Da Vinci reads, "Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen." The other by Salvador Dali interestingly mentions: “There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”

Art Expo India (AEI) 2009 is conceptualized by renowned art expert Vickram Sethi and his son Digamber Sethi. The dynamic father-son duo is determined to make the event a successful one by combining their art expertise and managerial skills.

Mr Vickram Sethi has been actively engaged in promoting contemporary Indian art for over three decades. He is also the founder of The Arts Trust that organizes exhibitions and hosts art camps.

The Institute of Contemporary Indian Art (ICIA) serves as a logical extension of The Arts Trust to showcase a wide pool of talent and creativity. He has founded Asta Guru, an acclaimed online auction house, to connect art buyers from across the globe to Indian marketplace.

Digamber Sethi is looking after the logistics and organization of the expo that involves constant coordination between different individuals and institutions from the domain of art. He is currently studying at University of Glamorgan, Wales.

Giving an idea of the background work and research that has gone into setting up the expo, he states, “Before launching AEI, our team visited art fairs all over the world interacting with galleries and art buyers to understand their needs. We have the ability and knowledge to put together an event of such scale and magnitude that would cater to the needs of the broader art market.”

Art Expo India 2009 will be available worldwide at Art Fair Preview of Art Investments

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Check Ahmad Shukri's richly referential and highly decorative style at AEI 2009

An interest in tantalizing texture and textiles as well as the play of surfaces underlies Ahmad Shukri's work. His canvases, layered with squares of fabulous fabric or cut-out numbers, reflect the multi-layered nature of the world we live in, he explains.

A fair idea of his exciting oeuvre can be had through his work done for the Rimbun Dahan residency. The artist exhibited a large drawing on canvas, paintings and installations all testimony to his richly referential and highly decorative style. Installations of 'incubators'-structures filled with hundreds of plaster eggs (in white and black), drew on the concept of yin-yang. They suggested the world’s inevitably heterogeneous nature.

As he put it, within a hundred black eggs there would be a white egg, and vice versa. On the other hand, his installation 'people's forum' (sidang rakyat) comprised multiple pairs of boxing gloves, all cast in plaster, set atop a low table, covered in a curious patchwork of textiles. The former represented the sparring of petty politicians, whereas the textiles were the backdrop of un-resolvable situations set against which their confrontations take place.

A series of diskettes in perspex sheets, overlaid with resin & silk-screen printing, pointed to the unavoidable spread of technology. Nature and culture morphed into each other in the voyager series of paintings. The petals of a flower metamorphosed into the blades of a ceiling fan whereas a chicken appeared both as a child's plastic toy and as a living animal.

His installations and paintings not only record his personal of memory and experience, but also illustrate socio-political conditions. The paintings might feature scraps of fabric machine-embroidered juxtaposed with bands of thread marked in subtle gradations of color.

Such techniques along with the incorporation of images of many found objects emanate from his strong belief that art is essentially embedded in day-to-day life. The ubiquitous everyday world is revealed as a chaotic, constantly changing and vibrant multiplicity in Ahmad Shukri's work.
(Image source: ArTriangle, MATAHATI ART FUND)

Auction results point to a signs of revival in modern Indian art

Pointing to a definite revival in modern art market, auctioneer Saffronart clocked impressive sales at autumn online auction 2009. According to media reports, 77 per cent of the lots featured in it fetched Rs 17.6 crore.

The top five lots comprised Akbar Padamsee's `Untitled' (Rs1.87 crore); Souza's `Old City Landscape' (Rs1.82 crore); Hussain's `Untitled' (Rs1.58 crore); Manjit Bawa's `Untitled' (Rs1.26 crore) and again Souza with his 'Man with Baked Features in a Black Coat' (Rs1.04 crore).

In fact, the recent auction results suggest that the market for modern artists appears to be strong. Osian's registered out a sale of Rs 17.22 crore in its recent sale of Masterpieces of Indian Modern & Contemporary Art. The auction's repertoire included iconic works by modern masters such as Souza, Husain, Raza, Gaitonde and Ara.

The list also included Ram Kumar, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Jamini Roy, Akbar Padamsee and Ganesh Pyne. Most of these works found buyers. Exquisite works by talented contemporary young artists like Baiju Parthan, Bharti Kher, Shibu Natesan, Anju and Atul Dodiya also drew attention of collectors.

Summing up the scenario, Mr Tuli observed in an interview,
"The next few months will see those with liquidity trying to capture a few prize works, but such mindsets rarely succeed on a sustainable basis. The market will eventually recover, but only when a new level of information and knowledge flow is created with greater confidence amid the institutional investor.”
Meanwhile, CEO and co-founder of Saffronart, Dinesh Vazirani, noted in a statement:
"The results have exceeded our expectations with eight works selling for more than Rs1 crore. The competitive bidding at each closing clearly demonstrated that Indian art market has regained momentum, with prices of high quality artworks appreciating significantly."

From a larger perspective, Hugo Weihe, international director of Asian art, Christie’s, sees ‘renewed vigor in the field’. Zara Porter-Hill, director and head of Indian art at Sotheby’s sees the market “sending a very positive and encouraging message” to collectors.

Work of prominent Malaysian artist Hamir Soib at Art Expo India 2009

His satirist and dramatic painting imbued with sociopolitical commentaries have catapulted Malaysian artist Hamir Soib to fame. One of the prominent members of Matahati, he invariably features in their collective exhibitions.

His work has caught the attention of collectors, critics and galleries only in the last five-six years. Hamir’s talent was first noticed after ‘Tak Ada Beza’ installation (2002) and then his relief mixed-media ‘Tidur’ that won him Young Artist Incentive Award from Shah Alam Gallery in 2005. The founding of Gudang underlined his growing stature. Apart from being his personal workshop plus studio, it also serves as an alternative art space.

In his work, the artist releases pent up anger via the fabrication of horrifying spectacles that deal with death and such apocalyptic themes. Their meaningful contents unravel the tragedies of contemporary humanity. To begin with, he was more interested in Abstract Expressionism to express his emotional turmoil.

His early non-representational work exuded expressive quality and primitivist effect. Capturing the essence of his works, art writer Nur Hanim Mohamed Khairuddin states in an elaborate essay: “The uniqueness of their subdued coloration, illusionist quality and gothic imagery make his paintings appealing. Although we are taken aback by some of his grotesque figures, diabolic narratives and claustrophobic composition at times, we admire his imaginative signification and technical dexterity after a long silence of appreciation.

“The charm of his works is not based on just architectonic arrangements and formalistic patterns. It relies more on his imprisonment within this compositional unity of macabre fantasies and whimsical Nightmares with all the tragic byproduct of his subconscious. In his quest to make his work effective vehicles to convey his message, he depends on his plastic rhetoric as well as plethora of Romantic-Symbolist apparatus to build a gallery of erratic form and scenes.”

The work of this prominent Malaysian artist will feature at Art Expo India 2009. Other artists from Malaysia to feature at the expo are Ahmad Shukri, Mansoor Mohammad Ramli, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Anurendra Jegadeva and Archana Marshall.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

After the remarkable success of the recently-held India Art Summit, there are many art connoisseurs who are now looking forward to the Art Expo 2009

Art market indicates uptrend
13 Sep 2009, 0441 hrs IST, Nalini S Malaviya , ET Bureau

After the remarkable success of the recently-held India Art Summit, there are many art connoisseurs who are now looking forward to the Art Expo 2009
happening in Mumbai this month. The second edition of the expo will be between September 25 and 27.

At the moment, there are approximately 25 galleries participating in it, and a few speaker sessions have also been planned, spread across the three days. According to the organisers, "the expo is a perfect platform to launch domestic art in the international arena with meticulous selection of top galleries and well-conceived programme of special exhibitions, seminars and other events."

What makes such art events interesting, apart from the more immediate benefits such as networking , is that they offer a forum to discuss issues related to the business of art before a wider audience . Art collectors and investors also benefit hugely, not only in terms of access to information, but also in terms of access to a wide spectrum of art - all under one roof.

Talks by experts in the field, and an opportunity to interact with artists, gallerists, critics and other key members from the art fraternity, adds value to such events. Insights into various aspects related to the art market, such as world markets, evaluations, regulations and so on, make the event more interesting.

With the maturing of the domestic art market, and its remarkable growth in the last few years, the current phase is going to be crucial in establishing credibility.

The recent recessionary phase highlighted many gaps in the art market, and now that the market is poised, once again, to grow to the next level, it is in the larger interests of everyone concerned that better business practices are implemented to steer the growth in a healthy direction.

In such a scenario, major art events that invite participation from across the country and abroad can offer an excellent opportunity to discuss key issues along with the business side of the art scene.

If planned and executed properly, such events can turn out to be much more than just a networking opportunity. They can be a good learning experience for art connoisseurs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A spotlight on the two distinguished panelists at Art Expo 2009

Kay Saatchi and Judith Greer are the two distinguished speakers on the Art Expo 2009 panels . The idea of involving them is to provide proper guidance and advice on the art & science of collecting. Both possess abundant expertise in the domain of art development and investment.

Kay Saatchi is an internationally renowned art curator. She launched her career as a Director of the Mayor Rowan Gallery, London. Later she became the Contemporary Director of Waddington Galleries, London. In partnership with Charles Saatchi, she co-curated over 34 exhibitions for the Saatchi Collection between l987 and 2001. The shows curated by her include Sensation, exhibition show at the Royal Academy, London, and Kunsthalle, Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

In 2003, as Travel Editor of ArtReview, Kay Saatchi wrote about emerging art markets in Mumbai, Havana, Morocco, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa and also covered an Antony Gormley installation in Australia’s outback, and Sydney and Perth. In 2003 she wrote text for the book ‘British Artists at Work’. She is the Founding Director of the ‘Artists & Collectors Exchange’ a program to promote young artists. In 2007 and 2008 she curated Anticipation, an exhibition of the best of emerging artists from London’s art colleges.

With years of experience behind her, Mrs. Saatchi’s keynote address on spotting young talent and building up an art collection is something not to be missed. On the other hand, Judith Greer is an independent arts producer and consultant for contemporary art projects both in the UK and abroad.

Focusing on non-profit and educational fields, her work includes project planning and realizations, lectures, and writing on topics including contemporary art collecting and patronage. In 2006 she co-authored 'Owning Art –The Contemporary Art Collector’s Handbook', now available in English, Italian, Russian and Arabic. In Spring 2009 she was appointed Associate Director, International Programs for the new Sharjah Art Foundation.

Vickram Sethi speaks about Art Expo and Indian art market

“An art fair gives curators, art dealers, collectors, art consultants, critics and journalists a chance to see new art and get to know the galleries involved,” states Vickram Sethi (on left, pictured with art collector Harsh Goenka), the organizer of Art Expo India (AEI) in an interview to The khaleej Times.

Since the early 90s the art expert has dealt in art. He has watched the Indian scene flourish quietly. Following are his observations that he made in the elaborate interview:

• “Having had an art gallery of my own helped as it gave me first-hand experience of the difference between the art markets in India and the rest of the world. I decided that in order for India to have a chance of gaining a more impressive global standing, we needed an art fair.”

• “There are three main challenges to the Indian art market: international exposure, limited collectors and buyers and an unorganized art market.” These factions all interlink and affect each other, but a lack of consolidated resources within India for its art scene doesn’t help.

• “We need to make art accessible. There’s a lack of a museum culture within India and we don’t have enough grants, public or private funding to help introduce Indian artists on both an internal and external level. There is no single platform that gives artists an opportunity to exhibit internationally.”

• “Art, primarily, is a thing of beauty:It should be bought because you enjoy it, but having said that, as an investment it has continued to give a stronger return than traditional equity markets for those interested in investing in the medium to long-term.”

• “Our theme is emerging contemporary Indian art and the relationship with the international art scene. Art is about looking without prejudice and approaching subjects without preconceived notions."

• “Our exhibiting galleries are constantly bringing fresh perspectives to Indian art.”We only invite galleries who are passionate and ground-breaking in the artists they foster."

• “Art Expo India 2009 creates a space where collectors can see the context in which the art is produced and how far along the journey Indian art is. The result is a collection of the very best art India has to offer.”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

‘Art Expo India hopes to raise awareness of modern Indian art on the international stage.’

“Discover how Art Expo India, to be held in Mumbai this month, hopes to raise awareness of modern Indian art on the international stage,” proclaims Georgina Wilson-Powell of The Khaleej Times, providing an insight into the purpose of this ambitious art event.

Putting the event in a broader context, the writer mentions in an article (Title" 'Winds of Change'): “Indian art has been around for over 5,000 years — a complicated and vibrant reflection of the country’s myriad historical, religious and political developments. However, its impact on the modern art market at an international level has been relatively limited in the last century.”

It adds: “Art fairs, or expos, have always been a fantastic platform for a city or a country to bring together its eminent artists, curators and galleries with private and commercial buyers, patrons and investors. They act as flash points, attracting local and international attention and coverage for artists and galleries looking to extend their reach beyond the domestic market. In the last few years, India’s contemporary art scene has started to do just that.”

The writer points to the fact that a series of international art fairs that have brought together disparate artists under the broad banner of being Indian and working in the now. In a country as large as India and with such an unstructured art market, there's plenty of room for more than one art fair. In an effort to attract international attention, there is always strength in numbers, Georgina Wilson-Powell argues.

Vibhuraj Kapoor, owner of Gallery Beyond in Mumbai, has been quoted as saying: “Art Expo India needs to become a continuation of the revival of the Indian contemporary art. Art expositions are an effort to create bridges for information on the art practices of our times. Well-organized ones can be a great visual adventure; Art Expo India promises to be just that.”

He is an example of how things are changing — he used to travel to Singapore or New York to take part in art fairs, but is now heading to AEI for the first time, the article notes, makeing a pertinent observation that although modern Indian art has a relatively healthy pulse at home, it slows down abroad.

It adds: “The Middle East has started to reflect its diverse Indian expat population, with a wider inclusion of Indian art in its galleries. But generally speaking, the further west Indian art travels, the fainter the heartbeat. The concern over which path modern India takes and the domestic cost of global modernization is at odds with the immediate future for its art scene. What started with a small rumble is building to something much more urgent and explosive.

"Just as the tide of global economics is slowly sweeping east, the art world’s gaze is starting to follow and, eager to have their time in the spotlight, Indian artists are waiting in the wings, ready to claim centre stage,” the writer aptly points out.

Art Expo India will bring ‘Winds of Change’, reports khaleej Times

Art Expo India (AEI) will throw open its doors for the second edition on September 25 in Mumbai. It will invite the world’s galleries, art collectors and press to cross the threshold and take a fresh look at what young Indian artists are doing at home. The expo will comprise all forms of media from sculpture to photography and everything in between, reports The khaleej Times.

In an elaborate essay, entitled ‘Winds of Change’, Georgina Wilson-Powell notes the prestigious publication: “One of the aims of AEI (or any international art fair) is to act as an amplifier for that heartbeat, turning it into a pounding the global art body cannot ignore. The crux of the ethos for AEI is to give the wave of new Indian talent room to flex their muscles and show off their skills to an international market, which although is more considered in its purchasing than ever before, is also home to a huge amount of collectors who, in times of economic uncertainty, buy art from emerging artists."

The essay explains, "This encouragement of investing in art from both domestic and international buyers is reflected in AEI’s program that features talks from Sharan Apparao and Menaka Kumari Shah on buying art in a recession, as well as a keynote address from Kay Saatchi on how to spot new talent and build an international art collection. Saatchi co-curated with her ex-husband 34 exhibitions for the Saatchi Collection between 1987 and 2001 and is now the founding director of the Artists and Collectors Exchange, which promotes young artists.”

Georgina Wilson-Powell concludes, giving a call: “Head to Mumbai from September 25 to 27 to see Art Expo India and help ring in those changes!”

Positive signs for the Indian art market

Indian art hit international headlines in 2002-03 when a Japanese art collector paid $317,500 for a triptych by painter Tyeb Mehta at Christie's in New York, making it the highest priced Indian contemporary painting so far.

The art market witnessed a new high a few years later when an Indian painting sold for more than nine million rupees ($215,000) at a public auction in Mumbai. It was VS Gaitonde's untitled oil on canvas was sold to an art collector living in Dubai.

A BBC News report 'Boom time for Indian modern art' (February, 2005) had then mentioned:

"According to some estimates, Indian modern art auctions in New York are now raking in five times what they made just four years ago. One reason the art market is doing so well is the increasing interest non-resident Indians are showing in Indian art. Increasing disposable incomes have enabled them to patronise it and this also forms a way for them to keep in touch with their roots and educate their children about Indian culture. Experts say the Indian market is growing at 30-40% annually and there is huge potential."
Giving an indication of the frenzy for Indian art and the zooming valuations, the prestigious financial publication The Economist had first noted in a 2006 article:

“Prices have risen around 20-fold since 2000, particularly for prized names such as Tyeb Mehta and F.N. Souza. Arun Vadehra, who runs a gallery in Delhi and an adviser to Christie's, expects worldwide sales of Indian art, worth $200m last year, to double in 2006. It is still a tiny fraction of the $30 billion global art market, but is sizeable for an emerging market. A painting by Tyeb Mehta that fetched $1.58m would have gone for little more than $100,000 just four years ago.”

But some art experts think Indian art still has a long way to go. According to them, the price that a work by an Indian artist fetches is in no way comparable to that of artists from other countries. Amin Jaffer, international director Asian art for the Christie’s feels that the new, globalized Indian is good news for Indian art in 2008.

He has mentioned in a recent interview:
“There exists a loose correlation between the financial market and the art market. Of late, the financial market has been a bit up and down but that has not been reflected in our sales. When they get an opportunity to buy a good work, buyers are willing to pay. Though not immune to the effects of the global slowdown, there are clearly some positive signs for the Indian art market.”

According to him, besides the modern artists such as (Francis Newton) Souza, Raza and Husain, contemporary artists such as Riyas Komu, Subodh Gupta and Jagannath Panda are finding a growing international collectorship.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The New York Times maps the growth trajectory of Indian art in context of ‘India Xianzai’

We have already published excerpts from an insightful article entitled ‘Asian Interest in Indian Art Grows’, which appeared in The New York Times (Hillary Brenhouse; September 4, 2009).

The article makes a special mention of the recent ‘India Xianzai’, or ‘India Now’, held in Shanghai.

Here is what The NYT mentioned of the show:

“The Institute of Contemporary Indian Art in Mumbai was one of two Indian galleries that recently helped organize the first large-scale, public exhibition of contemporary Indian art in China, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai. The show, called was a testament to the growing presence of Indian art in the country, displaying more than 60 works by 21 artists, including wall-sized installations, photography and video, spread over two floors of the museum.”

Tushar Sethi, director of ICIA, was quoted as saying:

“We’ve noticed an increasing interest from buyers all over Asia, and particularly in China, who are looking at Indian art as a diversified avenue for collection and investment."

Elaborating on the trend of growing Asian interest in Indian art, the article pointed out that ‘Fly Away Swim Closer’ by renowned Indian artist Sunil Gawde was sold for $50,000 to a Taiwanese collector at the Sakshi gallery branch based in Taipei (Incidentally, Sakshi is the first Indian gallery ever to set up in Taiwan).

Explaining how the idea struck her, the director of Sakshi, Geetha Mehra, stated, “We were starting to sell works of contemporary Indian art to Taiwanese collectors over the Internet. I thought, if I’m doing business with a few buyers, there must be more. And indeed there were...”

Tushar Sethi reaffirms the trend: “By the time ‘India Xianzai’ show closed, no fewer than eight private Chinese galleries had made approaches to express interest in teaming up with the ICIA to hold contemporary Indian shows in Shanghai next year,” he revealed in the NYT interview.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing demand for Indian works in China

According to Christie’s senior specialist in South Asian modern and contemporary art in London, Yamini Mehta, as quoted in a recent NYT article, East Asian collectors have continued to pay record auction prices for contemporary Indian artists such as T.V. Santosh, Subodh Gupta, N.S. Harsha and Thukral and Tagra.

In fact, at their Hong Kong sales of Asian contemporary art held early this year, the leading Indian financial daily Business Standard reported that artist T. V. Santhosh’s ‘Hundred Square Feet of Curses’ was bought by a Chinese collector for a whopping for $95,914. The work, as is known, refers to the aftermath of the blood-filled riots that took place in the state of Gujarat in 2002. Another collector reportedly bought a creation for $111,467 by established artist Jitish Kallat.

Analyzing the trend in the context of a recent museum show of Indian art in Shanghai, Neville Tuli, chairman of Osian’s (one of the leading auction houses in India) remarked in the NYT article, “Two of the so-called emerging super powers of the world are just not engaging in enough dialogue.” But things are changing…

Arario Beijing is the first commercial gallery in the country to host a major group show of contemporary Indian art, entitled ‘Hungry God’ in 2006. According to the gallery, it had noticed growing demand for Indian works from clients in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in the wake of that show.

During the show it managed to sale three works for a total of $200,000 to Beijing collectors, whereasa in 2007-08, it sold not less than 30 works to Chinese buyers worth $2.5 million in three solos for artists Jitish Kallat, Subodh Gupta and Nalini Malani. This tells the story itself…

For Chinese collectors, contemporary Indian art perhaps is of significance because of the comparable circumstances artists from both the countries face today, like cultural and aesthetic history coupled with the fast modernization, leading to an intense search for a distinct artistic identity and vision within that realm.

Indian artists are gaining a foothold in East Asia

While the Indian market is still overwhelmingly driven by domestic buyers, contemporary Indian artists are starting to gain a foothold in East Asia as a result of increasing exposure at exhibitions, art fairs and biennials.

Taiwan, which has a long history of investing in cultural commodities, is acting, with Hong Kong, as a regional entry point for contemporary Indian art, including into mainland China.

Above are are the observations from an article entitled ‘Asian Interest in Indian Art Grows’ published in The New York Times by Hillary Brenhouse (September 4, 2009). The writer adds:

“International interest in Indian contemporary art has risen fast, from small beginnings. When Christie’s first offered modern and contemporary Indian art as a single sale category in London in 1995, the sale took in just £390,482, or $613,837 at the exchange rate then. Last year, with sales in London, New York and Hong Kong, the category took in about $45.3 million.”
Senior specialist (Asian contemporary art) at Christie’s Hong Kong, Ingrid Dudek, mentioned: “We’ve witnessed an increasing amount of cross-fertilization and pan-Asian bidding and buying o over the last several seasons.”

According to her, Chinese buyers have shown particular interest since 2006, when the auction house started to include top pieces from Indian artists alongside work from their contemporaries across Asia.

Sakshi Gallery, one of the biggest private art spaces in the city of Mumbai, is also planning to lead a group of Taiwanese collectors on a special contemporary art tour through the country this December having opened a Taipei branch in February 2009.

“When I first made the trip over to Taiwan,” Ms. Geetha Mehra of Sakshi said, “I realized that there’s a collector base there that’s very well informed, very liberal.” A Taiwanese client recently paid $50,000 for a work by Sunil Gawde, one of four Indian artists represented in the international exhibition at the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Curatorial aspirations of artists Bose Krishnamachari, Jitish Kallat and Subodh Gupta

They are considered the most talented contemporary artists in India. Not confined to creating art, they are exploring a different role for themselves.

An article by Riddhi Doshi of The DNA tries to find out the reason behind their artistic shift. Turning the spotlight on Jitish Kallat and his much awaited curatorial projects, it briefs about his large show, comprising 17 artists from all over Asia, scheduled in 2010. The renowned artist is working on the concept for a leading New York based gallery. Simultaneously, a museum in the Far East has approached the artist for curating a show for .

The artist noted that for over a decade he had been writing on art, a serious parallel practice for him. He elaborated: “I've always divided my time between the studio and study. And that's how I thought about curating shows." However, he does not have any plans to launch an art space.

The article refers to Subodh Gupta’s latest curated show, entitled 'East Village', at Mumbai’s Project 88. It showcases works by nine emerging artists from his home state Bihar. The celebrated artist informed that he curated his first project for Bodhi a few years ago. This is his second major project.

He was quoted as saying: “I am from Bihar where there are hardly any good art . Even the infrastructure in colleges is not up to the mark, so how will a talented artist grow? I myself have gone through a lot of struggle to make it to where I’m today." He hence decided to help out the artists with this show. Subodh Gupta has been closely following their works. According to him, all nine are very good.

Bose Krishnamachari is another name in the list of artists, who have been curating shows. He has already done over half a dozen of them. He felt that the Indian curatorial scene is not as evolved as it should be. He explained: “It's not research-based at all; it needs to be much more professional.” He is keen on representing the ‘young market’ waiting to be explored.

Monday, September 7, 2009

‘It’s crucial to orient clients on the functioning of art markets.’

We checked in the previous post how ArtTactic employs analytical frameworks to generate relevant statistical data on art markets. In an interview with The Mint’s Anindita Ghose, Anders Petterson running the well-known research firm discussed a host of issues pertinent to art investment.

His opinions and viewpoints on the broader art markets are extremely insightful as they are based on relevant statistics generated through a combination of qualitative as well as quantitative research tools. ArtTactic not only closely follows sales & market figures for detailed quantitative data, but also surveys a set of art experts for the qualitative aspects every six months.

Explaining how the firm makes sure that the projected statistics are accurately interpreted, Mr. Petterson elaborated: “Statistics are prone to both unintentional and intentional misinterpretation. We hold seminars and talks to educate our clients in the UK. India, being still a young art market, it’s firstly vital to educate our clients about the way the art market works (itself). We do intend to extend our educational program to venues outside the UK.”

Statistical interpretation, according to him, is the second leg. The art experts' list comprise art dealers, curators, art historians, buyers, commercial & non-commercial enterprises - essentially, all those having a ‘stake’ in the market. ArtTactic has a sample of close to 90 art experts.

'We try to represent a cross-section of relevant sample of entities that move the art world', he adds. The precious piece of information serves as a solid base for prudent investment in art markets. ArtTactic does custom research for dealers, collectors, private banks, government agencies and art funds.

Art market statistics is in its infancy in India, so the firm doesn’t have bespoke clients here, as yet. The Indian art market – in spite of the meteoric rise and the subsequent sharp fall - has room for continued growth, he concludes.

Enough room for growth in the Indian art market, says ArtTactic founder

The founder & managing director of ArtTactic, Anders Petterson, was in India recently. The world-renowned art market research firm established by him eight years ago is backed by his comprehensive knowledge of contemporary art and background in financial analysis.

In a free-wheeling interview with Anindita Ghose of The Mint publication, he discussed the various issues related to the broader art markets, the future of Indian art in particular, and prudent investment choices.

At ArtTactic, he and his team members make use of well-proven analytical frameworks similar to those employed by financial market analysts for generating relevant statistical data. In a testimony to India’s growing clout and status as a fast-emerging art market, the research agency unveils regular reports for mapping its trajectory.

Its elaborate Artist’s Survival Rating allows investors to grasp long-term credibility for top artists. The ratings give fair idea of the long-term belief of an artist’s importance - high, medium or low.

Significantly, artist Subodh Gupta measures 72% in the ‘high’ category of the comprehensive three-tiered Indian Survival Rating launched a few months ago. Atul Dodiya comes a close second (65%). Another established artist Rashid Rana follows at 43%. Other names that form part of the crucial list are as follows (as mentioned in the article):

1. N.S. Harsha (37%)
2. Jitish Kallat (37%)
3. Ravinder Reddy (36%)
4. Bharti Kher (35%)
5. Surendran Nair (34%)
6. Sudarshan Shetty (28%)
7. Anju Dodiya (22%)

A report that was released by ArtTactic in April 2009 indicated that the overall Indian Art Market Confidence Indicator fell rather sharply since the last reading was registered sic months prior to that (in October 08).

In spite of what the figures suggest and the implied volatility associated with the Indian art market, Mr. Petterson believes that there’s still enough room for continued and sustained growth in it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

D. Ebenezer Sunder Singh’s artistic evolution

Starting his journey from a modest temple town in the south India, D. Ebenezer Sunder Singh arrived in Chennai for studying fine art. He enhanced his knowledge base at College of Arts and Crafts. His early expressive drawings, mostly pen & Ink or charcoal on paper, were largely inspired by modern masters, in particular, the German expressionists.

He did most of his paintings in Gouache or Oil. Large sheet of papers stuck together for a bigger one served as an outlet to express his emotions and cathartic fervor. He studied in depth Paul Cézanne’s paintings and his principles of Art to understand the traditional Indian painting methods.

The artist was granted a Government of India scholarship. At the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), he worked on his ‘flat figurations’, a series of oil paintings - figures rendered in an abstract mode - with a linear figure drawing outlining the flat abstract energy. In 1996, he had his first solo, entitled ’The Hollow Men, The Stuffed Men’ at the ‘Easel Art Gallery, Chennai.

In 1999, D. Ebenezer Sunder Singh received the Charles Wallace Scholarship’. He had two shows in the UK. With a new awareness he returned to the Cholamandal studio. Gradually, he started to include text in his paintings. He also traveled to the US on the prestigious Fulbright scholarship.

Outlining his broad artistic philosophy, he has stated: “I am a Christian, but I believe in universality in the philosophies of all religions. The Religious symbols with psychological motifs that marked my oeuvre were based on the same thought.” His recent paintings revolve around Humanistic principles. With the Human figure as the central element of his pictures, they shift time and space to locate the psychological characteristics and the principles of life.

Summing up the spirit of his art, D. Ebenezer Sunder Singh states, “I collect my memories; put them on my canvas; turn them into metal, all the while using tones trembling with feeling.”

A reliable option for investing in art

Similar to mutual funds, art funds consist of resources pooled together resulting in a large corpus. The money is used to buy art works. Assuming that the pieces would appreciate in value, the profits can be made by selling them at higher prices.

Art funds are usually close-ended with a lock-in period of roughly three-five years. Over a longer term, investors can expect returns to the tune of 25-30 percent. Those investing in art on their own, have to deal with subjectivity at one level, and veracity in the valuation and authenticity at another level.

In an art fund, a vast knowledge base is accessible apart from archival material. You also can avail of the supporting infrastructure with regard to administrative and legal machinery as well as tax structures difficult to handle on an individual basis.Osian’s, Yatra, Crayon Capital, Copal, Religare and Ask art are some of the funds operational.

However, falling NAVs (net asset value) have taken sheen off them in recent times. The funds have witnessed erosion in value owing to the slump in Indian art market. ArtTactic, the London-based research agency, recently attributed this to the economic recession and a drop in liquidity.

Putting things in perspective, Amit Sarup of Religare mentioned in an interview to Financial Chronicle that people had money but it would take some time to regain confidence and invest in art. In fact, despite the adverse circumstances, financial planners suggest art as an alternate investment option for good returns because interest in modern and contemporary Indian art remains high.

Indian artists are being showcased to a wider audience across the globe, adding to their aura. There's great value in these works in every sense. Experts continue to have faith in art as a proven asset performer that will withstand the test of time. According to them, first-time investor can allocate close to 5-10% of their portfolio to art. And by rooting your investment through art funds, you are assured of the asset manager’s technical expertise and domain knowledge.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

An artistic discourse to re-vision materiality

A mix of thought provoking works by established artists Probir Gupta, Babu Eshwar Prasad and Anant Joshi in juxtaposition with some talented, upcoming artists, formed the core of a group show ‘Re-Visioning Materiality: Part II’.

Hosted at New Delhi based Gallery Espace, it included artists known for exploring unusual forms as well as themes in their creations, bringing together dispersed elements in a fresh ensemble. They tried to explore nuances of the ‘materiality’ through the prism of space and time.

Probir Gupta tends to lean towards sharp political activism. His compositions, either sculptural or on canvas works, exude a sense of dejection over prevailing political scenario, whereas the hyper-real imagery in Babu Eshwar Prasad’s paintings simulates things that never really existed. They suggest spaces experiential and yet unreal. His vision modifies nature and surroundings, to transform them into intriguing patterns and seamless blends.

His imagery explores a psychic map he chooses to navigate with a child-like curiosity carrying him into a wonderful world of chimeras, speaking trees and sacred mountains, In the process, he builds phantasmagorical situations, albeit not totally cut off from reality.

Established painter and installation artist Anant Joshi takes a cue from rapidly changing urban culture, now flooded with global icons and mesmerizing media images. Such transformations greatly impact his art practice. He uses beamed light in his installation works for a juxtaposition of dismembered, dissected toy-like objects and strange, sculpted ceramic objects projected onto the wall of a space imagined through his eyes.

Mention also must be made of artist Baptist Coelho, who studied at the LS Raheja School of Art, Mumbai and Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. He featured in Peace Project of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. He just has had his first solo show in Mumbai. Evoking patriotic themes, the series revolved around the brave tales of soldiers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A special report by The Washington Post on M. F. Husain

“He is a flamboyant, Ferrari-driving artist, who relished showing up at elite Indian clubs barefoot, divides his time between London and Dubai now. He has a large body of work that runs into literally several thousand pieces of art and comprises a series on the erstwhile British colonial Raj, Mother Teresa, Bollywood cinema, Hindu epics and horses. His vibrant colors and bold brushstrokes hark back to his early days of struggle when he used to live on the pavements and painted cinema billboards for a living.”

This is how an interesting essay in The Washington Post by Rama Lakshmi depicts Maqbool Fida Husain. It adds: “In the heady celebration of the boom witnessed in recent years in the country's contemporary art market, he is an iconic artist conspicuous by his absence. The paintings of this 94-year-old artist, hailed by many as India's Picasso, are still coveted at international auctions.”

His painting entitled ‘Battle of Ganga and Jamuna’ fetched $1,609,000 last year at a Christie's auction. Unfortunately, galleries back home are not keen to show his works as they have drawn angry protests, court cases and arrest warrants that forced the artist to exile three years ago in Dubai. This constantly triggers a debate about creative freedom in context of religious sensitivities in India.

An author of his illustrated biography, K. Bikram Singh, has been quoted as saying, "Husain has become the symbol of freedom of expression in the country today. We state we are a multi-cultural, multi-religious society. But our secular values are rather hollow." News agency PTI reported as Husain stating that he was ‘dreaming all the time to come back to India.’ But this looks increasingly difficult.

An independent cultural critic Sadanand Menon noted that though the so-called 'friends of Husain' hold tributes occasionally, the art community as a whole and the academia are largely silent on this issue. On his part, Husain recently said in London that he was "dreaming all the time to return to India," reported the Press Trust of India. But his return looks increasingly difficult.