Saturday, April 3, 2010

Contemporary Indian art on an upswing

‘The return to a collector’s market, so to say, has raised the quality bar in the art world. The galleries are now more discerning in picking and exhibiting artists.’
This is the observation made by curator and art advisor Sharmistha Ray in a recent ET essay, ‘Indian contemporary art: Young artists lay new foundations’. It quotes Shalini Sawhney of Guild Art as saying:
“During the boom, art was seen as a real career prospect so more young people went to art school. They are generally more informed about the world, they are well traveled. They are making work that is more relevant and intelligent. But we don’t have enough galleries to support them or India’s size. We need many, many more galleries each with their own program and with their own artists.”
The veteran gallerist foresees the fast growing pool of talented artists far exceeding the number of galleries in India. So, there is ample scope for new galleries that offer a fresh perspective and align with the evolving needs of the art market. Of course, there are hurdles like high operating costs.

The constraints of real estate costs coupled with a lack of experimental art galleries has made way for alternative initiatives like Jaaga in Bangalore. It’s a mobile plan for an art gallery, which makes use of vacant plots to construct temporary art spaces.

“It won’t happen overnight, but the foundations are already being put into place. Eventually, what we need is an entire art ecosystem to thrive. It should include many more public and private museums, art schools, curators, critics, magazines etc,” the art expert notes.

Importantly, the essay concludes that the times ahead are filled with promise, if artists, galleries and collectors continue to exhibit the sensibleness they’ve displayed after what has seemed like an eternal period of introspection and soul-searching. The art expert suggests that all signs clearly point toward the development of a sustainable new art market with enough breadth and depth.

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