Saturday, October 24, 2009
Giving an enhanced sense of the Indian art market, renowned publication Economist noted, “The prices of paintings by known artists such as the late F.N. Souza and M.F. Husain have fallen over the past year. Prices of works by younger contemporary artists have also slumped, which has brought a sense of reality to the art market."
Underlining a few fundamental problem areas, art expert Maithili Parekh mentioned to BBC News: "India is lacking enough curators and critics and art publications. We’ve little institutional and museum collecting to help make art much more accessible to the public." But things are definitely changing. Grasping the ‘Winds of Change’, Georgina Wilson-Powell of The Khaleej Times, made mention of Art Expo India 2009, an event in Mumbai that hoped to raise awareness of modern Indian art on the international stage.
Rob Dean, a former India representative of Christie’s auctioneers who now runs London’s Rob Dean Art gallery, was quoted as saying in the UAE based publication, The National: “From the talk here, there’s an upswing in the mood, definitely not so in London.”
Giving a broader perspective, art expert Vickram Sethi, ‘who helps some of India’s richest build their collections’, stated, “Economic statistics are a poor indicator of the buying power of Indian collectors. The people who buy art aren’t people who are so much affected by the stock market and by the recession. Our economy is not a true reflection of the money there is in India. India has so much money; we don’t even know how much money we’ve. There’s a lack of confidence, there’s nothing else.”
Echoing his views, Mr Dean felt that the ‘new-found’ buying power was now increasingly looking to buy international as well as Indian art. Checking Indian art’s bumpy ride in the market, an insightful essay in the prestigious UK publication, Financial Times wanted to find out how hard the economic downturn had hit modern & contemporary Indian art? The hyped Indian art scene, according to artist Subodh Gupta, meant that college students in India were making works with the market in mind, ‘which is dangerous’.
Friday, October 23, 2009
The encoded pictures of Sachin Karne and their reference to art history show the intensiveness of the heritage from the past used and molded. Manish Pushkale and Akhilesh explore emotions by way of linear contours, whereas Chandra Bhattacharjee and George Martin P.J. let elements of Pop art intermingle with super-realism and expressionistic abstraction.
The dynamism, vibrancy and sensitivity of today’s leading Indian artists get showcased in a new show at galerie müller & plate based in Munich, Germany. Among the participating artists are Achuthan Kudallur, Akhilesh, Bose Krishnamachari, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Harsha Vardhana S, G. R. Iranna, George Martin PJ, Jehangir Jani, Leena Kejriwal, Manish Puskhale and Prabhakar Kolte.
Then there are names like Dileep Sharma, Ebenezer Singh, Prabuddha Dasgupta, Ravikumar Kashi, Riyas Komu, Roy Thomas, S. G. Vasudev, Sujata Bajaj, Sunil Padwal, T. V. Santhosh, Vanita Gupta, Vibha Galhotra, Vivan Sundaram and Vivek Vilasini. Works by F. N. Souza, Ganesh Haloi, and H. A. Gade also form part of the major show.
The show presents a sense of continuity in Indian art through five decades and more. Taking a cue from S. H. Raza’s works, the curatorial note concludes: “His sensuous impetus and the abstract symbolism can and will not deny western influence. Yet it’s genuine Indian-linked equally to its tradition and presence. On first sight, the art production in India seems very international and intercultural. But at close sight it shows its continuity with tradition and with the past.”
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Hauser & Wirth, a leading contemporary art gallery, represents many emerging and established artists. The gallery was founded by Ursula Hauser, Iwan Wirth and Manuela Wirth in 1992. It has been located since 1996 in the former Löwenbräu brewery building. In its endeavor to turn the spotlight on Indian contemporary art, the gallery has chosen to showcase Subodh Gupta.
A recent piece on him in the UK Financial Times by Gareth Harris on the eve of the show mentions: “A series of mangoes, the solid bronze pieces, are a sculptural Dutch 17th-century still life, their ‘skins’ dappled with subtly delineated blemishes. The mangoes go on show by the Indian artist, alongside a few other impressive sculptural creations. This nod to a fellow art market darling is another canny move on the part of artist Subodh Gupta acknowledged as India’s first contemporary art superstar.”
An accompanying note to the solo show elaborates: “In his new works, the artist deftly moves towards objects possessing an auratic quality, away from composite sculptures. Readymade commodities tend to experience transformations in material and scale, transmogrifying into extraordinary artifacts from being mere factory-produced items. He presents subject matters employing culturally loaded mediums like bronze, marble and steel.
“Their symbolism varies from the universal to the enigmatic. And their emotional impact can range from menace to nostalgia. Appropriated icons from the canon of Western art accompany replicas of perishable, interchangeable goods typically associated with India, and items whose import is specific to him.” To sum up, Subodh Gupta’s work embodies the clash between individual and impersonal experience in contemporary society.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The trend is global and gradual. According to Artprice.com, that tracks worldwide auction results, the auction sales volume of artists dropped in the first half of this year. The Contemporary art 100 index of Art Market Research that tracks the performance of a top ‘basket’ of 100 artists, also showed a drop over last year.
However, things have started looking up as the mood of collectors, curators, dealers and artists themselves, who converged on the British capital. As the Frieze art week threw open its doors, the question constantly being asked is: Where is the market now? Philippe Ségalot, art adviser to several top collectors comprising Christie’s owner François Pinault, stated “The market is there, albeit a bit shrunk. Buyers and sellers may be fewer, but the real collectors are still there.”
Assistant professor (finance), Maastricht University, Rachel Campbell, who advises London’s Fine Art Fund, was quoted as saying: “Once the economy improves, the broader art market will certainly improve as well. The art market historically tends to lag behind the financial markets by roughly about two years. But I believe that gap is narrowing now. People are talking of a double dip. I do not think (the art market) will go down again. However, it will plateau for a couple of years. I see slightly more risk in the short term - say up to two or three years - but not so much in the longer term. Then the growth will start again.”
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The idea of inviting India as the guest country at KIAF was to demonstrate to the country’s growing stature in the international art market apart from its excellence, abundant talent as well as its bright prospects. KIAF director Cheong Jong-Hyo stated that India was most likely to emerge as a new centre of art and culture in Asia since the country has huge potential coupled with rich history. According to him, interest in contemporary Indian art is steadily increasing, which is why the organizers chose to invite India as the guest country.
An exhibition, entitled ‘Failed Plot’, was inspired by the idea of the ‘incomplete picture’. It was curated by noted art critic Gayatri Sinha. A curatorial note explained: “Recent terror events, enacted in different parts of the world and believed to have a locus in West or South Asia, come to be known as the ‘failed plot’ in media and academic parlance. As investigations get underway, the truth continues to remain elusive. These narratives are completed, abandoned, denied in a million unrecorded ways, until they uneasily subside in the residue of public memory.”
Riyas Komu, T. V. Santhosh, Vivan Sundaram, Chitra Ganesh, Pushpamala N, Abir Karmarkar, Anita Dube, Archana Hande, Ranbir Kaleka and Manjunath Kamath were among the 15 Indian artists whose works were showcased. The participating artists urged a prompt enquiry into a rather more personal sphere, of how we tend to receive and make images and imaginary narratives than the actual mechanism of terror. It also included life stories, manuscripts, poems, ideas that were confined to remain incomplete.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
'A New Vanguard’ offered a glimpse of the new idiom propagated by participating artists’ who ably represented India's diverse contemporary artistic practices. The exhibition encompassed the dynamic trends and temperaments as each work offered a unique perspective on the continual negotiations, aspirations and struggles of today’s complex life, presented across the various stages on which it’s played out, from the village to the megalopolis, the intimate to the public.
It included some exciting works that encompassed a wide range of media like painting, sculpture, digital printmaking, video art, and site specific installation. A press release stated: “It’s our endeavor to offer a glimpse of the talented artists and artworks that are at the forefront of India's vast contemporary art practices.
The artists featuring in the show included Gigi Scaria, Sunoj D, Sathyanand Mohan, K P Reji, Sumedh Rajendran, Abir Karmarkar. Lavanya Mani. Lokesh Khodke, and Prajakta Palav Aher among others. Many of the works on display were essentially spontaneous reactions to the country's fast evolving environmental and sociopolitical landscapes.
Each of the participating artists gave rise to interesting questions about the curious coexistence of the urban and the rural and the ensuing tension between the urge to move forward and keenness to preserve traditions. It was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by V. Divakar and Santhosh S.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Even global art world is looking with great hope at contemporary Indian art. Sample this essay titled ‘Masterpieces of contemporary Indian art’ in the Economist magazine that mentions how Indian art is enjoying boom driven by the ambitions of a newly rich—often fabulously rich—generation of non-resident Indians.
The essay states: “Scant attention was paid to modern Indian art until the end of the 1990s. Many contemporary Indian painters, though, are still too derivative to interest international buyers for whom the subcontinent remains an exotic travel destination rather than a font of originality, vision and drive. That has not stopped prices for the best Indian work rising twenty-fold or more since 2000, particularly for leading artists, and this looks like a market with a long way to run. Indian buyers have become especially adept at spotting paintings on the Internet and tracking prices at hundreds of art-gallery and auction websites around the world.”
One worthy piece of advice that the above essay offers is to look beyond the headline-catching prices, affordable by only the very few, and understand that it is possible to find talented artists with works of cheaper price tags, still of exceptional quality. The precondition is to be prepared to put in the effort to find them.
Another key to be a successful investor is to work out your approach towards collecting art. This implies understanding what type of a buyer you are. There are two broad types of buyers in the art market. There’s a category of buyers for whom the idea is to buy art purely to harness their passion and love for art. In this case, fascination and fondness for art inadvertently results in adding color and richness to one’s precious portfolio.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
His series of works ‘Pan India – a shared habitat’ presents a wide array of rural vistas, cityscapes, and various habitats, forming the ubiquitous crosshatch of rampant urbanization. Culled from his vast body of work, it raises pointed queries about notions of development. The images are in panoramic format he started employing in 2000. He felt that the format could be organized around a theme of living habitats, and thus started exploring it.
He explains, “It expresses concerns on the new Indian growth and construction and how people live (with it).” Curator of the show Sanjeev Saith elaborates that Prashant Panjiar is a photographer ‘not in a hurry’ and adds, “He approaches the subject matter with great empathy. All the elements in his picture share a harmonious relationship. A viewer is moved rather than just getting impressed.”
To put it in the words of this passionate photographer, his work has become non-dramatic over the years as he has opted out of ‘in-your-face’ photography. Instead he prefers to take a pause, step back a bit, and let the action get over to shoot the after-effect.
Regarding the content and compositions of his series ‘Pan India – a shared habitat’, he states, “It’s more introspective in nature. Most of the images are rather simple.” This de-emphasizing of drama has been a marked evolution in his work, underling how life carries on even as the scenery collapses around us.But what if habitats begin to appear incidental? How does one then emphasize the importance of a private living space?"
According to him, “With all of modernity around us, if we are able to maintain a semblance of our individual identities, community, family, and therefore ownership – is what will keep India still very special.” According to him, the pictures are supposed to be reflective in nature, and not corrective, since he is not an activist.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The celebrated painter has come up with some fun-filled, curious and colorful depictions of Ganesha that are bound to hold your attention. The Lord is portrayed in various moods and forms in all his splendour and grace. Observing various postures of Ganesha - sitting, standing, fighting the demons, dancing, and so on – is a magical experience. Babu Xavier recreates it with his brush for the viewers…He captures the aura of this universally worshipped divine form.
Elaborating on his philosophy as an artist, he has stated: “I love this activity (of painting); I mean the physical part of it, a great deal. I derive lots of joy and inner fire out of it. It’s a real magical world for me. In my paintings there's a lot of contradiction. It can be very disturbing." In then, one sees, a deeper meaning.
Gallery Archana, established in December 2004, is considered to be a pioneer in promoting Indian artists in Malaysia and vice versa. It was a part of the Art Expo India in Mumbai, India, in September 2009. Harboring a vision to diffuse the passion for art within the global community, it showcased exciting works of some highly talented artists. The gallery featured the works of well-known Malaysian artists, including Hamir Soib Mohammed, Ahmad Shukri, Masnoor Ramli and Bayu Utomo Radjikin at AEI 2009.
Significantly, this was the first ever major show of Malaysian artists in India in such a prestigious art event. Along with them, works of Indian artists whose Karan Khanna, Kalicharan and Manish Pushkale were also presented by Gallery Archana.
Monday, October 12, 2009
AEI was held from the 25th to the 27th of September, 2009, at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai. The fair brought together thirty galleries dealing in modern and contemporary Indian art from all over the country and abroad, hoping to provide a much needed impetus to the Indian Art market and community.
Conceptualized by Vickram Sethi, the Art Expo displayed an exhaustive collection of modern and contemporary Indian art and provided a space for established as well as new galleries toconverge and converse with each other and with the Indian art community in general. According to Sethi, the lack of international exposure, the limited number of collectors and buyers, and the unorganized art market are the biggest problems that Indian art faces today, and this edition of Art Expo India promised a platform to address these prominent issues as well.
For three days, the walls of the top floor of the Nehru Centre were entirely covered with Indian art, with each of the participating galleries having a stall where they showcased the best of their collections. The gallerists were happy to provide advice about the works displayed, and conversations easily moved beyond the frame of the canvas.
Also presenting itself as a platform for intellectual discussion, the Art Expo offered a series of panels and talks that ensured a better understanding of art, on both the local and global level. Kay Saatchi of the Saatchi Gallery delivered the key-note address about spotting new talent and encouraging young artists. Other panels like (X)topia featuring Jitish Kallat and Ranjit Hoskote were informative conversations about various artists’ works and their international
Panels were also dedicated solely to Indian art, with Dr. Alka Pande, for example, speaking about the erotic in Indian art, moderated by the renowned artist Anjolie Ela Menon. Other prominent panelists included Abhay Sardesai, Brian Brown, Judith Greer and Bose Krishnamachari. Other events organized to coincide with the Art Expo were a curated exhibition of S.H. Raza’s works at the Nehru center, Mumbai, and several gallery openings across the city.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
“It served as a forum to let viewers look at a collection representative in nature. Entering galleries could be intimidating and a forum like this helps initiate new people into the world art…” organizer of the three-day fair, Vickram Sethi, was quoted as saying in The Indian Express news report. Summing up the trend, it mentioned: “Once, art was viewed in closed galleries. Now it’s suspended on false walls in stall areas. Private is going public and shared platforms are gradually becoming the norm.
The All India Art Trade Fair Organizer, Adishwar Puri, concurred. “The novices get a glimpse of different genres of art and work they are not familiar with.” The two-day fair in the second week of October displayed canvases of over 80 Indian artists. Earlier, the Art Mart at Epicentre, Gurgaon had 50 galleries.
Elaborating on the logistics of such events, the IE report mentioned: “Preparations usually start months in advance. Registration for next year’s India Art Summit has already begun. An effort is made to introduce elements, which could generate more buzz, while displaying the works. Even though public art in India is quite limited, art is now going public through fairs.
Participating in the fair does demand finance and physical effort, comprising renting stalls, transporting the works and insuring them." But the effort is worth it, as Uday Jain, director of Dhoomimal Gallery, pointed out: “The investment does prove beneficial in the long runas one builds relationships with contacts.
Ten thousand invites for AEI were distributed in Mumbai. Potential collectors from New Delhi to Chennai, and Dubai, England to Switzerland were invited.” According to Vickram Sethi, it’s important to reach out to a global audience. And that’s exactly what AEI achieved...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The perfect launch pad to the eclectic art event was served by noted art expert Mallika Sagar Advani who conversed with renowned art expert Kay Saatchi. What are the attributes to watch out for in an emerging artist, the renowned collector-curator was asked, and her reply was: “The artist’s commitment and passion to make art coupled with a certain amount of skill involved is what matters.”
Two interesting talk programs focused on Bose Krishnamachari and Jitish Kallat, among the two most dynamic artists of this generation. The former has conducted various experiments as part of his practice that he discussed during his presentation ‘Everything is Art’.
A piece of art could originate from any ubiquitous object when it’s juxtaposed with right intent and intentions. Emphasizing this particular aspect of his practice, he added: “You can discover art in everything around. If you are conscious of it, you can enjoy the process of discovery. I consider myself a watchman. I watch everything from an artist’s viewfinder.”
‘(X)topia: A Search for Place, A Place for Search’ tracked the journey of artist Jitish Kallat who works in a variety of mediums like painting, photography, installation and sculpture. His oeuvre addresses classic themes of survival and the endless narratives of intense human struggle. It reflects a deep involvement with the city of Mumbai and derives much of its vivacious visual language from his immediate urban environ.
A series of such free-wheeling conversations were held at the annual event not only to promote the emerging contemporary Indian art in the backdrop of its relationship with the international art scene, but also to offer a glimpse of exciting art practices by individual artists.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Kirsty Ogg, the co-curator of London's Whitechapel Gallery, also discussed Indian art from a global perspective. She stated: “Conceptually, you can see a piece of art as a combination of form and content. The forms or modes of expression remain more or less the same. There are two sides to the Indian art scene - in terms of the (universal) form of the work, and the specific context, which has a unique Indian texture.”
She added: “Art, to me, is a very powerful, transformative medium that can alter one’s way of thinking about the life and the realities. Art is a process, an expression, a thought coupled with skill and power of execution. Educating people on various facets of art is very important. This cannot happen overnight. It takes years to ‘democratize’ art, but a start has to be made somewhere.”
Explaining the importance of developing a culture conducive to collecting, art scholar Judith Greer pointed to the practice in the US wherein focused community groups actively support local museums, and even major museums are supported by individuals who often donate massive collections to them.
“In contrast, the collaborative spirit is not quite there in India. Sustained patronage is important to create conditions conducive for an artist to make good work of art,” she concluded. All in all, AEI panelists provided nuggets of wisdom, and acquainted audiences with the beauty, joy and worth of collecting art.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
When asked how different is western art world from the Indian art scene in conceptual and structural terms, she commented: “Actually, I do not see much of a difference between the two. Of course, the Indian art scene is clearly still evolving. It’s an emerging market and needs to develop and deepen further to gather further strength and momentum. Its current trajectory can partly be attributed to globalization.
“Technology has made it easier to talk to people, communicate with each other, exchange different ideas and share various interesting concepts irrespective of geographical barriers. You can conduct research and convey your opinions over the Internet without any hindrance and inhibition,” she added.
According to Kirsty Ogg, the Internet has also given greater visibility to Indian contemporary art thanks to increased networking. Art galleries, institutions, fairs, museums and individual art experts are feeding this global interest. Of course, there are several other factors responsible. Prime among them is obviously the excellent quality of work being produced.
This is a great time, a sort of sweet spot, as curious collectors and experts are digging out the hidden wealth of talent in the country, she stated. Conceptually, you can see a piece of art as a combination of form and content. The forms or modes of expression remain more or less the same. There are commonalities existing on this count.
There are two sides to the Indian art scene - in terms of the (universal) form of the work, and the specific context, which has a unique Indian texture. What really matters is the uniqueness of content. This is where an artist like say, Subodh Gupta really impresses. He brings to the fore local influences, issues, concerns and motifs that are unmatched, she pointed out.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
A host of luminaries participated in the art expo at Mumbai’s Nehru Centre. Prime among them was Kay Saatchi, the former, an internationally renowned art curator. She has co-curated over 34 exhibitions for the Saatchi Collection between l987 and 2001 in partnership with Charles Saatchi.
On the other hand, Judith Greer is an independent arts producer and consultant for contemporary art projects both in the UK and abroad. Unraveling her personal journey as a collector, Judith Greer turned the clock back to seventies when everything she did in her spare time was art related. Since then it has been a passion for her.
She reminisced: “For me, the key is to know the artist and his or her growth trajectory. The decision of buying an artwork should essentially be influenced by aesthetic concerns, something which all new collectors do not adhere to...”
Sharan Apparao, Menaka Kumari-Shah and Brian Brown, the three proven art experts, mulled over ‘buying art in today’s recessionary times’ at AEI 2009. Their opinions count because all three are well versed with the ground realities of the art market.
The elite panelists at the expo were unanimous in their opinion that dynamic Indian artists, influenced by global developments in contemporary art thanks to their greater exposure to the international art world, were striving to maintain a balanced relationship with Western art based on an identity deeply rooted in the rich artistic and cultural traditions of the country.
Art expert-collector Vickram Sethi, the AEI organizer, summed it as an exercise to give platform to emerging talent from across the country. Dwelling on his first fair last year, he said in an interview, "Last year, collectors got first-hand knowledge on the art market. Besides, service providers were able to meet gallery owners and, above all, participants were able to make new contacts and expand their own marketing activities."
Summing up the spirit of the second edition, an ET news report succinctly described it as an attempt ‘to create a platform to bring together gallery owners, dealers art funds, auction houses, investors, insurance outfits and collectors.’ Art Expo India 2009 provided a peep into the promising world of Indian art, for sure!