Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A recap of Art Dubai 2010

Three leading galleries from India featured at this year’s Dubai Art Fair as compared to seven in the 2009 edition.

Among the Indian artists that had a prominent presence at the fair, Husain's works were shown by the New York based AICON gallery and the New Delhi based Vadehra gallery. The Vadehra gallery also displayed works of prominent modernist artists such as S. H. Raza, F. N. Souza and Ram Kumar. Despite market conditions, works by these top artists are very much in demand, which is why they were probably preferred. Conor Malrlin, from Grosvenor gallery in London was quoted as saying, “I think many galleries in India would have found it tough to make it thanks to the losses incurred during recession.”

Among the other Indian art galleries participating, Mumbai’s Chemould Prescott Road showed the creations by Gigi Scaria. On the other hand, The Guild (Mumbai and NY) had a work by Vivek Vilasini. On the other hand, Vienna’s Galerie Krinzengen showcased artists Mithu Sen and Sudarshan Shetty.

In all, Art Dubai 2010 had more than 70 galleries from nearly 30 countries featuring an extensive program of collateral events. A press release stated: “The event has become the essential gathering place for collectors, artists and art professionals from across the Middle East, South Asia and beyond.”

The Global Art Forum program had leading arts professionals and experts who discussed some of the pressing issues affecting art today and also those defining its future. This year’s forum addressed the practical outcomes and theoretical concerns of key themes shaping our contemporary culture. It offered thought-provoking concepts alongside intimate interviews with international artists, including M.F. Husain and Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi.

Many of the galleries from India, having opted to skip Art Dubai 2010, are now looking forward to taking part in the upcoming Hong Kong fair.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sakshi Gallery presents Sunil Gawde’s ‘Alliteration’

Sakshi Gallery presents Sunil Gawde’s magnificent installation, ‘Alliteration’, just showcased at the 53rd edition of the prestigious Venice Biennale.

‘Alliteration’, a complex meditation on the passage of time: is a contemplation of the rhythmic flow of waxing and waning, fullness and eclipse, which characterizes the life cycle of individuals, empires and universes. It directly alludes to a cosmos calibrated by the interlockingtrajectories of suns, moons and planets.

It hints, also, at the enigma of personality, whether of the individual or the planet. And perhaps most subtly, with understated eloquence, it reflects on a society that has made the transition from an industrial past to a future in which the machine is a splendid ruin rather than engine of profit, quiescent memorial to fortune rather than turbulent generator of change.

‘Alliteration’ is a 4.5 meters large dead-matte black metal kinetic piece. Its front side presents a screen-like surface to viewers, a wall on which discs representing 28 moons turn at variable speeds, dipping in and out of view. The reverse side is open, naked to the eye, without hood or baffle: a candid disclosure of the mechanism composed by seven belt-driven wheels, which are choreographing with their movements an elaborate dance of the moons.

Sunil Gawde received the British Council’s Charles Wallace Award for 1995-96, and spent a year as visiting artist at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. His work has been exhibited in numerous international exhibitions like ‘Radium Grass’ (Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow, 1997), Bombay Maximum City’ (Lille, 2006), ‘Made by Indians’ (St Tropez, 2006) and ‘Art on the Corniche’ (Abu Dhabi, 2007), In 2009 he was invited by Pompidou Centre, Paris for a residency program where his work is slated for exhibition in 2011.

Later this year his work will also be shown at the Museum of Naples and the Museum of Athens next year.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What is Sharan Apparao's new dream project?

It was in 1984 that an enthusiastic 22 year-old art lover with a degree in art history dared to start ‘The Gallery’. Though she lacked any solid business background, she had passion for art. We are referring to Sharan Apparao...

Tracking her two and half decade long journey, the founder of Apparao Galleries turned nostalgic. In a recent interview with Gargi Gupta of The Business Standard, she quipped that art was hardly a business then. One of the first exhibitions she did was on horses, which allowed her to come in contact with legendary artist M. F. Husain. Then she did an exhibit on women artists.

Since then she has built Apparao into the credible brand in the contemporary art scene, identified with senior ‘modern’ artists like Raza, Jogen Choudhury and Burman, as also young and talented artists such as Alexis Kersey, Farhan Mujib and George K. Apparao is also known for ‘expat art’ done by international artists like Werner Dornik, Andree Pouliot and Olivia Fraser, who have lived in the country for a considerable period of time and been greatly influenced by its artistic traditions.

Apparao is also keen to launch an institution that will address the fast changing face of creativity. It’s something that she earnestly wants as Apparao Galleries completes 25 years. She mentions:
“Most artists reach a kind of plateau by the time they are 50-60 years old. They can’t change because they have reached a comfort zone. What happens if they want to renew their creativity? Or if they have a creative idea, how do they translate it? This could happen even with young artists, so where do they go? My institution will be a platform for out-of-the-box thinking.”
Her desire to know and understand the Dalai Lama is also evident, the writer notes: “She finds the Tibetan spiritual leader ‘a great speaker’, who exudes a compassion and a contentment she would like to imbibe."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Art as an alternative investment: how and why

In an interesting article, titled ‘Offbeat investments’ in The Business Line, Bhavana Acharya mentions of options other than stocks and bonds for investments. The article evaluates assets such as art and wine. It starts off, noting:
“You have just visited an art gallery and viewed some beautiful pieces. You may come across a gramophone at an antiques store. However, But if you’re not willing to buy these pieces because you would rather put your money in avenues, which will generate dividend or interest, think again. Among the more offbeat routes of portfolio diversification are art, sculptures, antiques and so on.”
The writer recommends alternative investment avenues for good gains. She clearly advocates a road beyond avenues of stocks and bonds, suggesting investments can be made in offbeat assets. Here is what the informative piece notes of art as an investment option.

· These investments will deliver returns in the form of capital gains alone, and not dividends or interest as stocks and deposits do.

· Investing in arts can be rather interesting, but it also demands sound judgment on your part. It needs research into different artists, their backgrounds and quality of their work.

· The art pieces must always be signed.

· The investments are not highly liquid and prices are not likely to shoot in the short term.

· Quality holds more importance than mere size while buying art. Bigger pieces are more difficult to maintain and retain.

· Assessing the quality of paintings or sculptures is not easy for a novice investor. So it is advisable to consult experts or enter art funds. Art funds invest in a mix of works by established as well as upcoming artists. SEBI requires art funds to be registered, but there is no benchmark to judge their value or performance.

· Importantly, buy what you like.

Last but not the least, while such alternative investments are novel, they require a tidy sum of money! Good art works and antique pieces come at a higher price.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Women artists who touch upon contemporary issues

Jaishri Abichandani’s ‘Allah O Akbar’ at Charles Saatchi’s ‘Empire Strikes Back’ show evokes a speech bubble that asserts devout beliefs. A sharp contrast between the materials employed and the meaning the words traditionally convey is evident. The words literally would translate as ‘God is Great’, but in utilizing leather whips as well as Swarovski crystals to ‘fashion’ them, they suggest conditions of violence.

Huma Mulji in her compelling works explore change and disorder occurring in the region and beyond. change and disorder occurring in the region and beyond. Her ‘Suburban Dream’ shows a taxidermied animal trapped in an unexpected scenario. The cow is shown trapped in a rather degrading position and at the mercy of humanity. Known for her sculptural works, Bharti Kher has also done paintings and installations to challenge socio-cultural taboos in India.

Her Untitled is made of multi-layered and multi-colored bindis concentrated on painted board. The bindi is a reoccurring motif in her work. It’s at the center of cultural and social identity, and traditionally symbolizes a third eye that links both spiritual and material world. In contemporary context, it has acquired importance as a fashion accessory.

The artist with this work is signaling the need for change, looking to challenge the role of the women, who are entrenched in tying traditions, also commenting on the commoditization of the bindi as a fashion accessory. On the other hand, the comic book epitomizes and perpetuates a perverse sense of good over evil for Chitra Ganesh. Similar scenarios are at the heart of classic Indian literature like the Ramayana.

The stylized simplification of the comic book style holds key to her ‘Tales of Amnesia’. The audacious female character in it confronts subscribed notions of compliance in order to explore alternative models of femininity and power. The artist rewrites popular history to empower her character Amnesia with a chance to challenge the original fairytale. Such preconceived social codes have been heavily influenced by religion and literature, she thinks, and tries to reconfigure these codes in her work.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rashid Rana presents a kaleidoscope of art practices in Pakistan

‘Resemble Reassemble’ is culled out of the Anupam and Lekha Poddar collection. It showcases a kaledioscope of art practices in Pakistan. The art produced in the last 10 years in the country is more grounded in the local context. There are new new trends emerging along with a new approach and thinking sans any unwanted baggage of history.

For example, Jinnah’s popular and official images attain an Andy Warholesque framing. A veiled woman hijacks a central icon of ‘Madonna and child’. A video-installation about an Indian and Pakistani news anchor seemingly contradicts the same event. Saira Wasim in ‘Nuclear Threat’ comments on the tit-for-tat testing of nuclear devices by the warring neighbors; showing the two in diapers, not followed by typical war & peace visuals, but Ahsan Jamal’s ‘Kaho na pyar hai’.

The show reflects this changed mindset and keenness to expriement. One of Pakistan's most renowned contemporary artists, Rashid Rana himself negotiates a wide range media such as painting, photography and video installation. The 75 works selected for ‘Resemble Reassemble’ at Gurgaon based Devi Art Foundation crystallize the new art trends in Pakistan spanning the last decade or so. Summing up the show, artist-curator Rashid Rana has been quoted as saying:
“If we try to find commonalities in ‘art from Pakistan', there exist none. It's not an artist's specific show which is usually the case. I have reassembled the collection which has brought forth the resemblances.”
Often the shows from a particular region are seen through a ‘narrow view finder', as he terms it, leading only to a limited reading of the works featured. When he started working on the show, he realized, it would be more of a ‘national survey’, so, he chose to strategize it with an intent of shifting the viewer’s focus from the apparent theme. He quips: “It dissembles and reassembles, just like a Transformer.”

Modern art from India does well at two international auctions

Shrugging off the looming financial crisis and its aftereffects, the global art market dropped yet another hint of a recovery, as Asia Week art auctions in New York registered a good opening.

Art markets that had suffered a major confidence loss and real-term losses at the peak of the recession and worldwide economic turmoil showed encouraging signs. A clear indication of this was vigorous bidding for modern art from India and a classical Chinese painting that set a new record at Sotheby's sale. 'Two Mynas on a Rock’, a 1692 work by Bada Shanren, went for $ 2.994 million, thus setting a new US record for classical Chinese art works.

The pre-auction price estimate for it was just $ 400,000-600,000. Another US record was registered for Chinese calligraphy, drawing almost four times more than the pre-sale estimate. The vice chairman of Sotheby's (Asian Art), Henry Howard-Sneyd, pointed to an increased ‘appetite for fresh-to-the-market works that were priced conservatively’.

Christie's opened their Asian sales on a strong note, too, with modern & contemporary south Asian art as well as classical Indian & Southeast Asian works up for grabs. Among the highlights was a large acrylic painting ‘Gestation’ by Raza. It fetched million dollars compared to a pre-sale estimate of $ 600,000-800,000.

Most paintings easily made their reserve prices and a large proportion of them cleared apparently conservative estimates. Manjit Bawa’s 1999 oil painting of a goddess and a lion went for $ 360,000, almost double the high estimate. Two paintings by Husain fetched $ 150,000 and $ 210,000, compared to the high estimate of $ 80,000 and $ 120,000 dollar, respectively.The recovery process is expected to be steady rather than spectacular, but no one is complaining.
The international specialist head for Christie's, Hugo Weihe, observed:
"It’s a very smart market; it's spot on. People recognize quality. The Raza selling at one million is fantastic, but for us it was clear: this was a seminal work by the artist."

Though the market is wary, the interest is now there. According to auctioneers, people are keen on quality and are averse to risk-taking.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to safeguard your art investment?

Post 2008, there has been a persistent anxiety over the lack of appetite even for masterpieces. Referring to the ‘heavily hyped Indian art scene’ driven by excess liquidity and sheer speculation, India’s top contemporary artist Subodh Gupta had remarked in the recent past: “Even college students were making works with the market in mind, and with the boom, the market was flooded with dealers."

A majority of them having disappeared, the question is: Will they return unscathed from the economic downturn, as the market for modern and contemporary Indian art looks to gather momentum? Indeed, the contemporary art world can get extremely confusing, and intimidating.

In fact, any investment except of fixed nature comes with no guarantee of returns. In this context, art expert Kishore Singh of The Business Standard mentions in his recent column:

“A relevant question many collectors are asking: when it comes to buying art s how really to navigate the minefield of choosing from among established but younger artists. While there’s some merit in acquiring what one likes or responds to, art is not so inexpensive as to lend itself to impulse buys. As one matures one’s tastes too become increasingly sophisticated, making it vital to choose the right artists (if not the right art) at the outset.”

He observes that the number of exhibits have gone up in the last six months, marked by greater experimentation. Collectors though, are struggling to overcome their apprehension sans any independent analysis avenues in the market. How can a buyer then make sure that the works of art on which he or she is planning to put down money remain depreciation-proof?

First and foremost, decide for yourself how much you can allocate to start. With the contemporary art prices having reached reasonable levels, you may strike a few good bargains. How else to make your art investment depreciation-proof? We shall seek answers in the next post…

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Osian’s Masterpieces Auction 2010 highlights

The just concluded Osian’s Masterpieces Series Auction in March had on offer a wide range of fine art by some of India’s Modern & Contemporary Art masters. The proportion of lots sold was 58%. According to the auction house, the major, high-value lots witnessed vigorous bids. Following are some of the highlights of the auction:

* It registered a sale of Rs 18.73 crore, including the hammer price plus buyer’s premium. Total selling price in comparison to the total lower estimate was at 109%.

* ‘Fervent bids’ took place for works by Raza, Rameshwar Broota and Akbar Padamsee, each fetching over a crore rupees.

* The National Art Treasures attributed to artists Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore Sailoz Mookerjea, Jamini Roy, Raja Ravi Verma, and Nicholas Roerich were sold. Raja Ravi Verma’s rare 1884 gouache work, and the wonderful Himalayan Landscape captured by legendary Nicholas Roerich went for Rs 72 lakh and Rs 81.6 lakh respectively.

* Nearly 55% of work on offer by the Bengal Modern Masters like Ganesh Haloi, Ganesh Pyne, Bikash Bhattacharjee and Paritosh Sen was sold, whereas 61% of that from the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) artists, comprising Ara, Husain, Souza, Raza, Bakre and Gade found buyers at the auction.

* A Tyeb Mehta work, titled ‘Head Studies of the Mahishasura’ went for a whopping Rs 4.56 crore, at the Osian’s Masterpieces Series Auction.

Post-auction, the founder chairman of the auction house, Neville Tuli, was quoted as saying:

“We’re very conscious of our immediate commitment towards redemption of the art market. Once we complete this, we’ll refocus on expanding the auction house activity, especially in the realm of Indian antiquities as well as Modern & Contemporary Art.”

The auction signified a rising demand for quality works, comprising ‘Alphabet Stories II’ by Gulammohammed Sheikh, ‘Black Lillies’ by Jehangir Sabavala, and ‘Fisherwoman’ by B Prabha.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bharti Kher’s new solo exhibition

London based Hauser & Wirth gallery is hosting Bharti Kher’s solo exhibition, entitled ‘inevitable undeniable necessary’.

A series ‘confess’ is showcased in the main gallery will is akin to a room whose interior surfaces are animated by oculi-like feminine bindis, providing a boisterous counterpoint to the hushed rituals of the confessional. The single light bulb hanging from the ceiling brings with it images of forced confessions in prison cells. Upstairs, a motorised rocking horse is transformed into a unicorn, its horn marking the arc of time.

On the other hand, ‘Contents’ is a series of medical charts. They are veiled by a diaphanous skin of bindis, the artist plays with the paradoxical nature of the sperm-shaped bindi, at once masculine and feminine, mainstream and esoteric, enduring and ephemeral.

The artist’s way of working is exploratory: surveying, looking, collecting, and transforming. By bringing to attention the overlooked world with its everyday acts, such as applying the bindi in Indian culture, confessing as a ritual or looking at oneself in a mirror, and then re-assessing their meaning, Kher’s work repositions the viewer’s relationship with the object. A curatorial note elaboates:
“An arcane symbol of fertility, the contemporary stick-on bindi is a popular cosmetic device available in different shapes and colours and is an integral part of Kher’s œuvre. Exploiting their cultural and aesthetic dualisms, Kher uses bindis as an epidermal filter to transform objects. As shimmering signs in the form of waves, constellations, and spirals, Kher’s bindis mediate between codes and symbols and the ritual marking of time.”
In her art, she gives form to the slightly awkward and strange encounters with the daily rituals of life. The artist’s vision makes the banal wondrous and the quotidian unusual, even disturbing, at times. Her usage of found objects, such as mirrors or furniture, is invariably informed by her own position as an artist located between geographic and social milieus.

Entitled ‘inevitable undeniable necessary’, the sculpture that forms core of her new show, suggests the impermanence of seemingly immutable objects and the potential of interior rhizomatic space to challenge hierarchic thought.

'Art must connect with life'

Art historian Christine Litz studied Art History and German Literature in Cologne and Bochum. Her compatriot Susanne Titz also studied art history and literatures at Cologne, Hamburg and Bonn universities. The former is known to be an expert curator of several solo and group shows while in Museum Ludwig, including Max Ernst, Salvadore Dali and Pop Art shows of artists like Andy Warhol. Susanne Titz has estblished herself as an authority on contemporary art.

In a recent interview with Ashoke Nag of The ET Bureau both spoke of the presence of Indian art in Germany. Susanne Titz mentioned that it is being displayed in certain regions. There are usually community shows of artists from the country along with those from China, Norway and Russia, all shown together. Indian art is shown in centers, such as Munich, Dusseldorf and Cologne and in international locales like Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.

She informed: “The newer generation artists of the eighties and nineties as well as some of the older artists are there...the Expressionists, if I may term them, apart from the Kalighat drawings. There are collectors of Indian art in Germany, and its also seen in the Berlin Museum.”

Interestingly, the expert pointed out that the French as well as German Modernists were influenced by Indian art. Describing the art scenario in Germany, Christine Litz stated that some artists do paint for the market, but there are others who don’t treat art as any other object to attract the audience. She revealed: “Art in Berlin is indeed fascinating. You find art happening in public spaces and old shops. One sees writers, artists and curators working together and so also exhibits for the broader audience.

According to Christine Litz, art is not merely about prices, and that it must connect with life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Masters and contemporaries shine at Saffronart auction

The mood clearly seems to be upbeat as indicated by leading auctioneer Saffronart that has managed to sell 75% of the lots in its Spring Online Auction 2010. Indicating that the art market revival is on fast track, the auction of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art in the second week of March has posted strong results.

The sale comprised 100 lots of by 47 leading Indian artists with an aggregate estimate of $3.6-4.6 million. It included iconic works by some modern masters like FN Souza, SH Raza, Manjit Bawa, Akbar Padamsee and Ram Kumar, as well as contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta, Anju Dodiya, TV Santhosh, Atul Dodiya and Shibu Natesan.

Seminal works included Raza's ‘Prakriti Purush’ (2006) estimated at $180,000-220,000; Souza's ‘Gothic Head’ (1957) at $150,000 - 200,000; Subodh Gupta's ‘Doot’ (2003) estimated at $180,000 - 240,000; and Shibu Natesan's 'Take Me Where I Belong' (2000) estimated at $55,600 - 66,700. Collectors from over 30 countries drove the competitive bidding activity.

Following are the highlights of the auction:
- 75% of lots on offer were sold. The lots sold totaled $ 4.6 Million.
- Nearly 60% of sold lots exceeded their high estimates.
- Akbar Padamsee's 1953 portrait, 'Prophet' ($ 278,875) went for over triple its higher estimate. - Husain’s 1970s Untitled had a winning bid of over $ 400,000.

Subodh Gupta's ‘Doot’ sold for $ 391,000 as against a high estimate of $ 240,000. Souza's ‘Decomposing Head’ price of $ 350,750 was much higher than its high estimate of $ 250,000. Same was the case with works by Raza, Laxma Goud and Jagdish Swaminathan.

Importantly, collectors showed keen interest in works of leading contemporary artists like Shibu Natesan, Sudarshan Shetty and Rajesh Ram. According to its CEO and Co-founder Dinesh Vazirani, the strong results affirm the renewed confidence of the growing collector base for Indian art.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A delightful visual treat from one of India’s top contemporary artists

A new solo show of works by Paresh Maity, entitled ‘The World on a Canvas’ features a visual travelogue. The show presented by New Delhi based Art Alive Gallery promises to be a first of its kind, as it features works done by the master artist from 1983 to the present, inspired from his many travels in India and abroad. It includes his drawings, watercolors, oils, mixed media and sculptures drawn from his travels over the years.

His travels have taken him to many destinations – Kolkata, Kerala, Rajasthan and Varanasi in India and London, Venice, China, and Mexico abroad. Paresh Maity instinctively imbibes the essence of each place in his works and every place he visits equips him with a new vocabulary. A press release elaborates:
“Travels are a crucial part of Paresh Maity’s life. They are the life of his art. He has mapped both his home country and the world - from cities to hamlets, from countries to continents - carrying with him his brushes and paints. Seeking inspiration from landscapes and monuments, from history and people, he has the ability to perch anywhere to sketch, draw or paint, amidst crowds or all by himself, as he records his impressions in what has become a visual diary of his painterly life.”
In this visual voyage, which is as much about self-discovery as about storytelling, the artist showcases some of his most endearing and refreshing works on these destinations. Providing the perfect accompaniment to this visual journey are the arresting portraits of the artist at work by Nemai Ghosh, celebrated for his stills of Satyajit Ray's films.

The highlight of the show is a large installation done by him as well as his short-films ‘The Mystic Melody- A day in the golden desert’ and 'The Magic of Monsoons – Montage, Moments, Memories'. The art event provides an exhaustive visual reference for those who love Paresh Maity’s art, and Nemai Ghosh’s black-and-white photography, as well.

A book that maps Paresh Maity’s world on a canvas and beyond

‘The World on a Canvas’ (360 color pages, Rs. 7500), featuring Paresh Maity’s drawings, watercolors, oils, mixed media and sculptures drawn from his travels over the years, gives the reader an insight into his mind.

Published by Art New Delhi based Alive Gallery the book is probably among the most definitive documentations of the artist’s life. One of contemporary India’s great artists, travels form an integral part of Paresh Maity’s artistic core. An indefatigable traveler, he has traversed the continents, seeking inspiration from landscapes and monuments, from history and people, from cities and hamlets. His travels have taken him to many destinations in India and abroad. The journeys have shaped his palette as he has instinctively imbibed the essence of each place in his work.

With 54 solos across the globe and his works housed in prestigious international collections, he has indeed come a long way in his career. In a short span of time, Paresh Maity has carved a niche for himself in the Indian and international art world. Complementing his visual journey are Nemai Ghosh’s arresting portraits of the artist at work.

Eminent film personality Sharmila Tagore, an admirer of Paresh Maity’s art, provides the textual counterpoint to this visual travelogue. She charts the artist’s journey from the small town of Tamluk, where he first realised his true calling as an artist, to Kolkata where he studied art, and from Rajasthan, where his art underwent a tectonic shift, to Venice, which enthralled the artist.

Drawing from memory, experiences and incidents gathered from her interactions with the artist, she presents to the reader aspects of the artist’s persona, hitherto remained unknown. A critical essay by art critic Kishore Singh on his evolving style, and the maturity with which he handles his materials and subjects, enhances the narrative.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

‘Intimate Vistas...’ by Nikhil Chaganlal

Nikhil Chaganlal’s interiors reminisce the work of French artist Pierre Bonnard, who painted in the post-symbolist era of modern art.

Nikhil Chaganlal has extensively exhibited his work both in India and internationally. His new solo show at Art Musings features 21 mixed media works on Masonite, depicting his famed interiors. Regarding his new series, he states, “The painting - each one a room - is like a private diary that discloses places of old-world charm, with an embrace of intimacy and nostalgia, of happy days now almost forgotten.”

In his latest show, entitled ‘Intimate Vistas of the Interior’, he has chosen to tread a territory not often traversed - portraits of the interior. He prompts the viewer to ‘escape into the paintings’, and to put it in the artist’s words, ‘feel the sea breeze on their faces, and listen to the soothing music in the background’.

The latest body of work, according to him, is ‘a painterly autobiography’ of a suggestive presence of people drawn from his past. Narrations hidden in furniture objects and artifacts sometimes reveal emotions of restless sexuality laced with aspiring spirituality.

Only obliquely hinting human presence, the rooms with their orgy of untamed colors and cozy clutter draw you in. They resemble to an extent French artist Pierre Bonnard, who belonged to the post-symbolist era of modern art. It must be noted that Nikhil Chaganlal's paintings exude his own style and vision.

The interiors are akin to the artist’s ‘moments after he has left the room’. They are like strange dream views of civilized home settings, where everything is proper, albeit a bit skewed. Gently decadent and starkly hypnotic, they mesmerize one on constant gazing. The reality does not here bear any resemblance to the idealized spaces conceived that are his rooms.

Painting portraits of the interior

“Painting for me is to create a space, mood and live within a dream...this perfectly articulates my life's journey.”

This is how Nikhil Chaganlal articulates his practice. The artist has developed over the years a unique technique of painting on Masonite board. He makes use of acrylic combined with oil paints and chemical sealants.

The self-taught artist has been painting for over thirty years impelled by an inner urge. With layer upon layer of vibrant color he emblazons his work in an enticing and highly individualistic style. His themes are resolutely Indian and, maybe, yet not so. One gets awed by a personal strength of vision palpable in the works. In that sense they are mystical

His works carry a freshness of approach coupled with a new vision. Revolving around the pantheon of Indian deities, couples/ embraces and interiors, they mine the depths of his inner instinct. For example, the gods are presented in a very human manner. He represents them as he sees, perceives and feels them, only to be recognized by their symbols.

Nikhil Chaganlal developed interest in art at an early age. His father often took him to art galleries for the exhibitions of artists like Tyeb Mehta and Husain. He won the Lalit Kala National Award at the age of 14, which brought his talent to the fore. He even wanted to be an interior designer, a passion that reflects in his painted interiors. A lot of conceptualization is involved in them, similar to preparing an architect’s draft. He describes the works as ‘living within a dream’.

He paints ‘portraits of Interiors’, as he likes to call them. His portraits of the interior prompt te viewer to ‘escape into the paintings’ with an embrace of intimacy and nostalgia. ‘Intimate Vistas of the Interior’ by Nikhil Chaganlal features 21 of his mixed media works on Masonite.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Looking at the broader spectrum of art as an investment option

It seemed that the Indian art market boom would never end, but in spite of all the brouhaha it wasn’t going to last forever, as is the case with any asset class.

There are bound to be peaks and crests as part of an investment cycle, again testified by the 2008-09 meltdown that hit stock markets and realty world over. Art wasn’t going to be spared either. Amidst these upheavals that seem to have jolted the investors, won’t it be worthwhile to reflect on the essential characteristics of art as an investment option in the context of empirical evidence comparing its long-term financial returns versus other traditional asset classes?

This is exactly what art expert Nirmalya Kumar does in an elaborate essay (ToI; March 14, 2010). He elaborates as a collector on why anyone would purchase art. The professor (marketing) and co-director of the Aditya Birla India Centre, London Business School, is an avid art collector. He starts off by mentioning: “Compared to other asset classes, art has certain drawbacks as an investment vehicle.”

Which are they? According to him, if you need to sell the masterpiece you own, the art mechanics is such that no two individuals would agree on its ‘appropriate’ valuation. He points out that Indian art market is still shallow, with a relatively lower base of buyers. The expert advises to take into account the transaction costs while estimating profit margins. The maintenance cost of storage and insurance also need to be considered. He also notes that there is no underlying income stream unlike property, stocks and bonds in form of rentals, dividends or interest for owning that great work of art.

It is important to look at the broader spectrum of art as an investment option. Just remember, if you buy art, do so for love of it, and treasure your collection as a priceless piece of heritage for generations to come. Thus you will derive the maximum fulfillment and returns out of it over time.

‘Sincere’ and other works by Yamini Nayar

Yamini Nayar is known to work with installation as photography. She creates highly imaginative psychologically laden interiors in boxes of cardboard. They are destroyed once the work is photographed, so that the image acts as a stand-in for the original piece. In representing invented spaces as still images, any sense of scale is apparently concealed from the viewer.

The interiors seem destroyed by acts of nature. One gets to see the glimpse of her talent at ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ show of contemporary Indian art in London’s Saatchi Gallery. For example, in her ‘Underfoot and Overhead’ a disheveled staircase precariously falls from a doorway with a thread of foliage dangling over the darkened entrance. A single light bulb probably illuminates a darkened room. The work draws its title from a Rudyard Kipling poem.

The artist’s oeuvre often refers the work of famous German artist Thomas Demand, known for his paper interiors. Once photographed, they allude to something significant having taken place. Her fictionalized interiors like ‘Sincere’ are unlike Demand’s work; they are less a reconstruction from recent history and offer an insight into the artist’s imagination. She makes use of both made and found objects apart from images sourced from architectural design, cinema, mass media and photographic archives to create these interiors.

In another work, she conceives a miniature room made of paneled glass and fake columns with coat hangers. The uneven walls and the floor resemble a kitsch corner designed for idle recreation. A bamboo stick in the center of the photograph juts from the wall along with a lampshade shaped like a beehive. She explains that her photographic works is like a series of ‘constructed miniature dioramas, which reference imaginary domestic interiors. They are filled with representations of artifacts, objects and other elements.’

Saturday, March 13, 2010

‘MILLJUNCTION’: an existential commentary by a sensitive artist

Baiju Parthan's first solo show in New York is titled ‘MILLJUNCTION’. It’s a collection of his Paintings & Photoworks on view at Aicon Gallery from March 23, 2010.

In the series, his palette of black, white and sepia tones recalls the iconic vintage Bollywood posters of his youth, and the photo-realistic tradition of the 1960s and 70s. Superimposed with ASCII code, however, these images become icons of a different sort. Under his artistic influence, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, originally developed as telegraphic code, gets transformed into an existential commentary.

The question raised here is about ‘the significance of mythic vocabulary, when modern icons are nothing but virtual symbols of themselves?’ The artist states:
"I certainly see virtualization and gradual relocation of our everyday activities from the realm of the real into virtual data space as the most important signifier or marker that identifies the present historic moment. The attempt is to capture this particular marker and also re-assert the
physicality of the photographic image.”
Born in Kerala in 1956, Baiju Parthan studied Painting at Goa College of Art from 1978-83 and has received a Master's degree in Philosophy from The Mumbai University. He has featured in several major group and solo exhibitions in India and worldwide, comprising Galerie Christian Hosp, Austria; Anant Gallery, Delhi; Aicon Gallery, NY; and the Ninth Asian Bienniale, Dhaka in 1999.

A curatorial note to his latest show mentions: "Citing Sartre's book L'age de Raison, Jungian psychoanalysis, Joan Miró and the Surrealist Manifesto, and traditional Indian mysticism as sources of inspiration, Parthan creates his own rich, contemporary mythic language in a search for meaning."

This language, as art scholar Ranjit Hoskote explains, holds secret signals for us, directives pointing to virtual universes that begin at the threshold of the everyday reality we know, threads into hidden archives of continuity.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Amalgamation of art, technology and humanity: That’s Baiju Parthan for you!

The experience of something magical happening, while transferring an image from one's imagination into reality of the picture space has operated as the major incentive for Baiju Parthan to become an artist. Art making was his personal rebellion against traditionally tried and tested careers one was supposed to follow.

Reminiscing his evolution as an artist, he notes: “I was very much interested in art since childhood. But I was made to believe that art is something that one did in one's spare time, for personal enjoyment and for the entertainment of others. Then I chanced upon the book, titled ‘The Anxious Object’ by Harold Rosenberg, which gave me a very different picture of art making as an evolving intellectual and formal discipline with a well documented history that actually spanned centuries. That provided me with the critical push to take that leap of faith and pursue art making as a lifetime project.

Baiju Parthan soon dumped engineering studies and joined the college of art Goa for a BFA in painting. He did not look back since then. As an artist, he is keen to see how the communication technology is affecting us. And he uses the same as his medium to produce art to amplify things that might not be obvious right now but will be self-evident soon enough.

He is also interested in technology and its inclusion in life and art. He explains: “When I say we cannot ignore the presence of technology in our life, I’m overstating the obvious. I think communication technology is something that is really transforming our social reality and cultural space simply because it deals with communication and human communication and language is the site wherein social reality and cultural identity is constructed.”

Explaining his overriding concern as an artist, he states, “It’s to reflect the changes that occur around me for one, and also to generate fresh metaphors and symbols that have the potential to expand the range of meanings that we can wrestle out of life and reality.”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ved Gupta looks at life from the perspective of the dispossessed

Young and upcoming artist Ved Gupta looks at life from the perspective of the dispossessed, projecting them as heroic, albeit tragic beings. The pledge of evenly shared prosperity, made at the birth of the modern period, still remains elusive as everyone hankers after a piece of the pie, and covets what others have as well. Pointing to the bitter reality, his creations revolve around the themes of corruption, gluttony and oppression.

He is not averse to raising his voice on behalf of the suppressed. His creations draw from his forceful perception of the prevailing injustices and inequalities of the rigid class structured society of present day India. Even as the country soaks in the success of economic liberalization and globalization, he underlines the abuse of the basic values on which the modern India was supposedly constructed.

Leaving his hometown, he traveled to New Delhi and then Pilani, Rajasthan where he spent time with a master sculptor. His fascinating journey, familiarizing him with various shades of human emotions like the feeling of loneliness and desperation attached with the phenomenon of migration reflects in the vibrant vocabulary of his paintings and sculptures.

His debut solo at New-Delhi based Gallery Threshold revolved around the theme of exploitation and mental turmoil. It looked into the seamier aspects of the 21st century’s socio-political relations. He has stated in an interview: “I have always aspired to make a political statement and give back to the society with whatever I did. The language of art provided me with a way of expressing that and connecting with the society.”

Analyzing his work, art critic Deeksha Nath has stated: “Ved Gupta’s sculptures and paintings mock existing social and economic hierarchies in India. Several decisive turns in his life have influenced his concepts and methodology, precisely articulated in this first solo exhibition.”

His ambition – to create a dialogue that begins with his work – is grand but the context is localized, grounded in his experiences and observations.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

S. H. Raza’s ruminations on art and life

Veteran artist S. H. Raza, who just celebrated his birthday, turned younger by a year. Revealing his birthday wishes, he said in an interview, “I pray to God for time and health, allowing me to fulfill my ambitions.’

Incidentally, Raza celebrated his birthday in New Delhi with a new exhibit of his work. He described the capital city of India as his favorite destination in the country as it’s accessible to most collectors across the world. For record, the celebrated artist has spent close to six decades in France. He decided to move to France after his marriage to a Frenchwoman. His life partner passed away in 2002. He has been living a lonely life since. Though France remains his favorite country he still comes to India ever year without fail.

He describes the art scene here as ‘very encouraging’. He started a foundation to promote young artists. Reasoning the rise of contemporary Indian art, he told Priyanka Shewakramani of The DNA:
“There used to be a great influence that of European realism on Indian painters. It was not keeping with our rich tradition. We later realized that painting is not something seen merely with our eyes, but that it is a sum total perception of the universe visualized with mind, heart and all human faculties. In Hindi, it’s termed antargyan (knowledge of inner self).”
Raza is in constant touch with the art scene in India as well as New York and Paris. Drawing from his rich reservoir of experience, he concludes that artists like Husain (sadly, no more an Indian), and Ram Kumar are now noticed on the world map. He is happy that Indian contemporary painters are also rising in stature. Akhilesh, Manish Pushkale, Seema Ghuraiya, Sheetal Gatani, and Sujata Bajaj are among his favorite artists. He believes that if there’s truth in the painting, it will expose itself.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Atul Dodiya’s new collection of calibrated shutters

Atul Dodiya’s new collection of calibrated shutters display images of Bhupen Kakkar, Tyeb Mehta, Picasso, Mahatma and all those individuals he greatly admires.

The acclaimed contemporary Indian artist employs the shutters as the apt backdrop of his art, which combines pointed snapshots of the city’s fast-changing urban landscape. The shutter art references icons such as Mahatma Gandhi and Hindu gods among other motifs leading to complex surreal compositions.

His earlier shutters, he experimented with almost a decade ago, were operational one. It was a kind of ‘conceptual solid art’, which could move up and down. It had a definite feel. The artist had made use of enamel paint on the then metal roller coasters. In fact, Atil Dodiya’s first generation shutters, so to say, operated in a conceptual space existing between sculpture, painting and theatre.

The new shutters’ series ‘Malevich Matters’ on display at New Delhi based Vadehra Art Gallery, seems to have broken away. The artist says, "I’ve used oil for my new shutters painted on canvas. Their life-like corrugated metallic surface makes up the backdrop. They seem like applique work on the surface. I let this hybrid imagery happen so that it engages the viewer and raises in their mind questions."

Atul Dodiya started painting shutters when London’s Tate Modern museum commissioned him in 2000 to make urban landscapes of Mumbai for its famous ’Century City’ show. He informs that Mumbai was then selected as one of the world cities to portray the socio-political changes over the last decade. Mumbai then had witnessed riots, conflicts, curfew and the underworld wars. Whenever Mumbai was under siege it literally downed its shutters and its streets emptied out.

Summing up the series, an article in The Mint notes that ‘Malevich Matters’ is like a self-assessment of the artist’s own oeuvre or a culmination of all his artistic interests.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tar-man and other works by Kriti Arora depict travails of toiling labor force

Artist Kriti Arora is known for a sustained preoccupation with toiling labor. A case in point is ‘Tools and Boots’ made of Fiberglass, cloth and tar, exhibited at Saatchi Gallery. It contains tools of the trade so organized and arranged as to bring some orderly semblance to the tough task these individuals perform.

The installation is apparently consumed by tar, used to coat the newly laid roads. The arrangement of inanimate objects is akin to a still-life, which highlights the humanity missing from them. Blackened coats and heavy trousers in ‘Coat and Trousers’ again operate as the residual skins of the workforce building the roadsides. Hung out to dry by the artist, the tar is too thick to remove, thus alluding to the combined and inseparable nature of the men and their unfinished labor.

‘Tar Man 5’ is also informed by working men the artist encountered along Kashmir’s mountain routes. Another a sculpture on view is a mummification of one of the men struggling through the state’s war-torn landscape. The figure, which appears rooted to the spot, is coated in a thick skin of tar. This stifles his ability to exhibit any expression or emotion.

As is evident, Kriti Arora views roads as the social arteries, which connect this inaccessible region to the rest of the sub-continent. The struggling allegiance of men who are tirelessly working to re-cultivate the land for profitable redevelopment is the core subject of her artistic investigations. Unlike classical Indian statues or modeled deities, these ordinary men are covered in a suffocating layer of black tar from head to toe as a demonstration of the almost incomprehensible work required for changing the face of India.

The tar-man is emblematic of a continent seeking social and political change and a generation of men striving to execute the thankless job.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The world’s leading auction house poised to capitalize on an economic upturn

In a clear indication of the fact that global art markets are on a recovery path, the world’s leading auction house Sotheby’s has posted strong results for the latest quarter and year ended December 31, 2009. Its net was the second highest ever in its history largely due to a rise in the commission it charges on auction sales as well as a cost-cutting drive.

According to the auction house, income over the quarter till December 31 was $73.6m, compared to a loss of $9.3m in the corresponding period last year. The president & chief executive of Sotheby’s, Bill Ruprecht, termed that the good fourth quarter results a ‘remarkable achievement’.

“We are encouraged by our outstanding fourth quarter. It has produced our second highest fourth quarter net income,” Ruprecht added. “We are well poised to capitalize on an economic upturn and art market rebound as it occurs.”

In spite of a 7% fall in net auction sales, Sotheby’s registered a substantial improvement in the earnings for fourth quarter 2009over the prior year. Net income was $1.09 per share, in comparison to a net loss for the prior period. This improvement in profitability is attributed to a significant increase in operating revenues. Another factor that positively impacted revenues was a $19.9 million reduction recorded in principal activities losses due to the substantial levels of last year’s auction guarantee losses as well as inventory write-downs.

Consolidated sales (sum total of aggregate auction sales, private sales plus dealer revenues) for the full year 2009 were $2.8 billion. Revenues though, declined by $206.6 million, or 30%, over the prior year, to $485.0 million. This was primarily due to the 54% fall in net auction sales, an outcome of the downturn in the art market and economy as a whole. Offsetting this decline was of course, an increase in auction commission margin.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Recurring motif of cylindrical pipes echoes miseries of a mechanized life

Deeply involved with the painful transience of displaced lives in our metropolises, Anjana Mehra’s work reflects the grief of unsettled living. Essentially drawn from the real-life experience after her transition from a peaceful town in Himachal Pradesh to Mumbai, her paintings lament rapid industrialization and the resultant depletion of nature and innocence.

The artist says, “It’s about the eventual alienation, which is caused by the unmanageable accelerated pace of life in today’s mechanized consumer cultures. The city (life) has always been my muse. I try to chronicle the changes in and around it.” For the artist, who has studied Painting (Fine Arts) at the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai and Printmaking at the M.S. University, Baroda, art is a process and means of self-expression.

Her new series ‘PipeDreams’ at New Delhi based Gallery Espace comprises ten large canvases done in mixed media. The body of work lends voice to the unending trials and tribulations of people caught in the crossfire of socio-political, religious, as well as economic imbalances and unrest. The misery of innocent victims of violence uprooted by unsavory conflicts surfaces in her latest large format canvases.

Anjana Mehra has made use of black sand powder a popular building material, as it stands for the deceiving sheen and lure of the city. In the city, as it seems, one hardly experiences anything directly. Nature doesn’t even feature in our experience here, she notes. “The manmade environment we live in today is probably not the place we are designed (to live).”

The recurring motif of cylindrical pipes soaring into crimson skies depicts a ‘sense of alienation’. Black skeletal buildings amidst noxious washes of smoldering reds and melancholic blues are the leitmotifs of a city in flux. On the one hand, dense smoke emanating from mill chimneys smolder through them with tubular forms set against the backdrop of geometric grids of high rises, and on the other hand, there’s a poetic offering in the form of a bouquet of wild flowers growing out of the pipes and on pavements. It’s a haunting juxtaposition!

According to her, the works are about an infinite search placed within the corrosive nature of faceless, technology-driven societies.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Has Indian art market hit a bottom? Is it ready for a bounce?

‘Indian art: What next?’, is an insightful NDTV report, on the status of the country’s art scene in the wake of economic downturn that cast its shadow on it.

Tracking the Indian art market, the report asks whether it has hit a bottom and whether prices have stabilized. The key question to be asked now: ‘Is there growth on the cards? Seeking the answer, the story points out: “The impact of the global slowdown hit the Indian art market last year as buyers apparently tightened their purse strings. As a result, sales declined. The year gone by was rough, as volumes of Indian art sales almost halved.”

For example, Christie’s sales figures dropped to $15 million from a high of $40 million in 2006. Yamini Mehta looking after south Asian contemporary art division at Christie's, was quoted as saying, "The last year has been a very challenging one. The volumes of the sales did drop, but I think that we are in a position now where again quality is selling. We are getting far more inquiries from a wider clientele."

According to the report, prices for Indian art have started to stabilize. Experts suggest that an expanding base of buyer is leading to increased momentum for sales not only in Asia, but also in the West. International Director-Asian Art of Christie's, Amin Jaffer, stated: “In the last few sales prices have been rising in a really healthy way. I think we will continue to see this trend, particularly where the supply is finite for the great rare things.” Well, it could be an early Subodh Gupta work exhibited in an early Biennale, or an early Husain very rarely seen.

The report observes: “Compared to the Chinese art market, India still has a long way to go. Prices for Chinese art can go up to as high as $20 million whereas top prices for Indian art still stand at $2.5 million pointing to the fact that there is ample potential for an upside in prices.”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mithu Sen's new series ‘Black Candy’

In her new series of works, entitled ‘Black Candy’, Mithu Sen explores the elision of audio- visual experiences. The works encompass intriguing tales and sounds, which connect to her drawings.

Mithu Sen skillfully combines drawing, painting and collage. Her drawings tend to extend into installation and other chosen mediums. Intimating her attraction to issues of femininity, interiority, and eroticism, she has drawn sexuality from living and inanimate objects with both sensitivity and political acumen. Juxtaposing intricate and large forms, conflating animals, human figures and inanimate objects, she tries to provoke serious consideration in the viewer with a touch of irony.

The combination of diverse mediums builds their own narratives on the oft-hidden subjects considered, through the complicity of their viewing and interactions with the images and sounds comprising the show. In a way, ‘Black Candy’ is a logical continuation and expansion of her artistic approaches seen in her recent projects that employ self-portraiture, text, word, or sound bytes as an integral conceptual and thematic element.

‘Black Candy’ is an extension of her artistic approaches and concerns. This is her second solo show at the gallery, following her exhibition ‘Drawing Room’. A curatorial note to the show at Mumbai based Chemould Prescott Road informs:

“Viewers will have the opportunity to experience stories and sounds that connect to the drawings, developing an experimental new format for the artist even as she maintains a consistent interest in using text, image, and concept in her work. Though the combination of mediums, “Black Candy” offers audiences the opportunity to build their own narratives on the often-private subjects considered, through the complicity of their viewing and interactions with the images and sounds comprising the show.”

The works on paper and installations build on the artist’s earlier engagements with intimacy, sexuality, and identity. Her latest large-scale drawings focus on the male psyche and attentive gaze. Importantly, Mithu Sen’s consciously chosen feminine perspective does not distort her ability to represent men in play. She projects her observations and access point as a sensitive woman onto the subjects in ‘Black Candy’ with her characteristic wit and subversion.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A world-renowned curator on a study trip to India

Dr Barbara J. Scheuermann, an independent curator-writer based in Berlin, is recently on a visit to India to understand contemporary art trends. She has earlier visited to India on a couple of occasions, albeit as a tourist. This time around, she is engaged in deep interactions to grasp contemporary art practices.

Her ongoing curatorial visit, starting with New Delhi and Kolkata, moves next to Vadodara, Mumbai, and Bangalore. In Delhi she looked into the practice of young artists like Joydip Sengupta, Rohini Devasher and Aditya Pande. She just had an interactive talk session ‘Through the Peephole: How to Approach Contemporary Art from India’ courtesy CIMA and the Goethe Institute.

Her views provided a fascinating perspective of an aware westerner’s understanding of contemporary Indian art. She faced a series of questions and posed as many. Scheuerman offered a captivating collage of intriguing interpersonal experiences in backdrop of Indian art market, which ‘has decidedly expanded in the last decade or so’.

Her views provided a fascinating perspective of an aware westerner’s understanding of contemporary Indian art.Dr. Barbara J. Scheuermann took her degree at the University of Cologne. A curator at Tate Modern, before completing her dissertation, she was assistant curator at Haus der Kunst in Munich and at K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf. Since 2005 she has also been writing as a freelance art critic for several renowned publications like Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger and Kunstzeitung.

Once Scheuerman was introduced to works by Dayanita Singh, Anish Kapoor, Subodh Gupta, N.S. Harsha, and Thukral & Tagra, she delved deeper into their art processes. However, her understanding of the very nature of Indian art remained in a flux. Given the vast and varied cultural templates, it’s yet to settle down. The common streak in it that she witnessed was the usage of day-to-day objects.Scheuerman’s Indian sojourn, given her penchant for narratives, sure will offer her several curatorial possibilities.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back up your collection with appropriate paperwork

Nurturing art investments is often trickier than compounding your wealth through some other conventional means. It is very vital to back up your collection with the appropriate paperwork. In the previous post, we checked about some relevant papers and precautions to be taken while buying or selling an artwork. We considered aspects like proof of authenticity. Here are some more aspects be considered as suggested by art expert Kishore Singh:

1. It makes sense to spend some time to ensure the genuine worth of what you own or want to own as part of your art collection.

2. The next crucial factor is provenance. Ask, who has first bought the painting? Check where it was shown, stored and displayed? Seek catalogues and any other possible source where it might have been published earlier.

3. Ask for receipts of purchase (sellers may be reluctant to give them if prices have increased sharply, as they don’t want the buyer to engage in a process of negotiation on basis of the escalation).

4. Make it a point to ask for the framer’s bill plus any restoration bill (including paperwork), relevant auction papers, or anything else that will prove the previous ownership claims, history, records as well as health of an artwork.

Galleries now increasingly give a certificate that guarantees authenticity apart from transfer of ownership. Well-established auction houses also issue the assurance of compensation along with the work of art purchased. What is the level of legal scrutiny for documentation? Reputed galleries may not refund the purchase value, but may agree to replace a work of art in question with another of commensurate value. Importantly, if you buy sans the requisite paperwork, it won’t be easy to sell the work at close to its right market value.

How to build a good art collection?

A good art collection is more about research and knowledge than money. Here are some handy tips for aspirant collectors.

  • Expensive artwork is not always the best. There is no objective view of the perfect piece.Your own study and analysis along with a winning bid at auction is as important to establish real value. The aesthetic understanding holds key to your becoming a collector. You need to keep your eyes and mind open. There is good art by lesser known or less established artists available. You have to try to find out who they are.
  • Always go for reputable and credible dealers. Your relationship with your dealer is the most critical one. No good collection can be formed without an experienced dealer who will advise you, and help you know about good works available.
  • Genuine love for art matters. It is the first vital step in your conscious effort to become a collector. The ownership of art sans passion won’t in any way qualify you as an art connoisseur. A true-blue collector like Charles Saatchi loves to purchase art.
  • You may build it up slowly. It is not possible to collect art in one go. Buy a couple of works initially. Take your time to understand the kind of art you like. Educate yourself. Most collectors specialize in order to develop expertise in a specific category.
  • Slowly hone up your taste by looking at all different genres of art. Follow the artists carefully whose work you like. You will notice the works that appeal to you the most invariably have something in common- composition, color, subject or style.
  • Approach a professional art consultant, who will help you navigate through the entire process of purchasing art.