Adiscourse that’s part of all of 26-year-old S. Himanshu’s exhibitions, including his latest, An Interval Between Two Non Occurrences, is a booklet titled “School is dead”. In a 29-page document, Himanshu advocates the replacement, if not complete obliteration, of the education system as we know it.
“There are several reasons why the school structure as we know it doesn’t function well. There are alternatives,” he says. A fledgling artist at the cusp of somethingdom, Himanshu has the sort of rough and ready courage that comes with being young and on his way. A master’s degree dropout from Mumbai’s Sir J.J. School of Art, his avant-garde works are part of the portfolio of new artists in Indian art.
It’s a collection that Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal, of Chatterjee & Lal gallery, are eager to amass. The gallerist couple is grouping several new media artists for its venture, to be formally opened in August.
In addition to Himanshu’s works, their new space will also show the works of Minam Apang, Nikhil Chopra, Bobby Singha, Mansi Bhatt and Rajesh Pullarwar. “They are all connected through the use of new media such as video installations, performances and prints,” says Chatterjee. “Even though the immediate saleability of some of these artists is low, on the back of critical success, their saleability will increase by at least 25 to 30%,” he says.
To get an idea of the market value of new artists’ canvases, check out the Saffronart Catalogue section on the auctioneer’s website. “It is a very vibrant segment, where we see a lot of demand, selling at least three to five paintings a day,” says Dinesh Vazirani, head of Saffronart.
On the other side of the age barrier is Nisreen Moochhala, an artist who held her very first exhibition in 1960. The Pune-based 1957 graduate of Sir J.J. School of Art has been at her trade for decades but hasn’t achieved widespread acclaim because she didn’t produce a large body of work.
In Pune, Milind Sathe, who runs the India Art Gallery and www.indiaart.com, is more interested in mid-range, relatively unknown artists like Moochhala, whose value, he says, is “yet to be unlocked”.
Her figurative works are unique in that they are 3D images and paintings fitted within boxes of varying sizes. “I was inspired by the small places and box-like environments people live in,” says Moochhala. A nod to the 72-year-old’s collectors: Her creations have appreciated from under Rs10,000 a few years ago to more than Rs50,000 today.
“We focus on such older artists with at least 10 years (of) experience. Their talent proposition is high and they’re committed. They don’t work with assistants or produce for the sake of it. They have standards,” says Sathe. It’s a work ethic that Himanshu and his ilk would also appreciate.