Sunday, March 3, 2013

'Art ecosystem already there in Asian countries.'

In an elaborate interview with Sidin Vadukut of the Mint Indulge publication, Yamini Mehta of Sotheby’s shared her vivacious vision for the art market of South Asia, and India, in particular. She mentions that it’s equally about the way sales are structured to maximize their potential, depending on where they the clients are, according to her, at a given point of time.

Mehta would prefer to see the segment expand incorporating the wider spectrum of South Asia beyond India and China and to consider works of real quality. She is eager to further expand and diversify on the present ideas related to modern & contemporary to leverage the great scope in the promising region. For example, an art curator or a portfolio investor looking to add the modern masters of Bengal to the collection can sort of see ‘across the river’.

One may perhaps look at what has been happening in Bangladesh or go back to the 1960s-70s. In essence, this will demand a more curatorial and meticulous methodology to map out this region’s art. The other aspect to her work is of course to target the audience internationally for contemporary art in today’s challenging times.

Even though India and china dominate the Asian subcontinent’s art market, countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan deserve their fair share of attention. Yamini Mehta underlines the fact that there are several shared aspects in the domain of art of in the region, though other markets are much smaller. She gives an example of artist Rashid Rana, hardly visible at prominent auctions few years ago, but has scaled new price peaks in no time to become one among Pakistan’s highest selling practitioners ever with a top international gallery promoting his works.

She thinks that the ecosystem is already there in Asian countries though the overall gallery infrastructure is still small and rather new. Previously, accomplished gallerists and curators from abroad sort of parachuted in to organize shows, which didn’t help the artists much. This happens in the secondary art markets like ours. Once they develop, there is going to be far better appreciation in every sense, which will helps them focus on quality. To her, both the curatorial environment and the auction environment need to function together for a solid ecosystem.

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