Thursday, September 10, 2009

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.

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