New Delhi: After a steep fall in global prices for art last autumn, domestic and international galleries, testing waters at the recent Art Summit here, have expressed optimism for the contemporary art market with experts predicting a sooner than expected market recovery.
“After a dramatic drop in average auction prices for contemporary Indian art (76% between Sept 2008 and March 2009) the market has strengthened, with average auction price for contemporary Indian art currently at $24,536, up from $13,827 in March 2009, says market research firm ArtTactic.
The India Art Summit was the first time that 17 international galleries brought world renowned works such as Picasso and Salvador Dali for viewing by domestic audience as well as providing art collectors and investors a diverse cross section of world art.
Most exhibitors were excited at showing in the national capital and used the fair to develop contacts, build collaborations and gauge the domestic market.
“For me Indian art is very new. European art and American art have begun to bore me. I moved to Berlin recently and will soon conduct an exhibition of Indian artists,” says Christian Hopp who represents Asian contemporary art with special focus on India.
A few galleries from countries like Japan and Philippines were exhibiting in India for the first time. “The Chalo India exhibition at the Mori Museum saw a lot of visitors. I thought of introducing Japanese art to Indians,” says Michiko Yamamoto of Tokyo’s Shonandai My Gallery. The most expensive work in her gallery was by Hideaki Yamamoto, priced at Rs1,95,000.
Stefan Wimmer of the German gallery Beck and Eggeling, says, “The market for art is still strong and not as hyped as a couple of years ago. We are focusing on long term collectors.” The gallery will exhibit five Indian artists in Germany from February to March 2009.
Wimmer’s coleague Katja Ott says, “We sold a piece by Viveek Sharma and a Picasso etching but Germans do not know much of Indian art and treat it like exotica.”
At the end of the summit nearly 250 artworks valued at Rs 26crore were sold. The total value of artworks on display at the fair was approximately Rs40-50 crore.
Reaction by gallery owners was mixed. Dutch artist Ferial Kheradpicheh’s whose work “Pieta,” a photography on canvas priced at €8,700 says, “Indians still need to open up to international art.”
Rob Dean Art Gallery which showed, Princess Pea works made of fibre glass and automated paint said, “We are bringing very fresh works to the market and a lot of collectors expressed interest and may result in sales early next year at our London exhibition,” says Rob Dean.
Bangkok-based Thavibu Gallery representing artists from Thailand Vietnam and Burma, says, “Customs regulations in India makes it difficult to sell international artists here. If the regulations are simplified we would bring more artists,” says Jorn Middelborg, gallery director.
Leading Burmese artist Auug Kyaw Htet vibrant paintings were very popular among Indians with one work selling for as much as Rs4,50,000.
Arario Gallery which has branches in Seoul, Beijing and New York brought with it Indian and Asian works, including an installation by L M Tallur “Digestive System” tagged at $55,000.
“Indian artists are by style and form very international but they attempt political and economic themes which is difficult to interpret by somebody who is not familiar with India,” says a representative of Arario.
Says Middelborg, who has exhibited at Singapore and Taipei, “The Indian fair had more visitors there are just as many collectors here but they need to open up to international art. South East Asian art is reasonably priced and provides good value for money.