Where did you come across the works of Rama Rawat?
We had organized an exhibition where a number of artists from Bhopal showcased their works. Bhopal has been, for long, the art hub of the country, especially as far as stoneware is concerned. Rawat was one of these artists.
What do you like about her work?
Her style has versatility and spontaneity. She is able to do things differently, each with her own signature on them. Her work is not repetitive and she brings creativity into everything she does.
What works by her do you possess?
She has created an installation for my entrance stairwell. It consists of numerous square ceramic blocks suspended from the ceiling by leather strings. All the pieces look different and have been worked on individually. The visual span of the installation is about 15ft x 6ft. The installation is silent yet conversational, and evokes a pleasant feeling.What made you commission this work?
I had a gaping space next to the entrance stairwell, since I have a concept wall about 20ft high. I wanted something different from paintings. I told her to be as spontaneous and as creative as possible. The design of my house is generally quite modern, but this installation adds an earthy, warm and rustic touch.
In general, do you like abstract works or figurative art?
Both my husband and I prefer abstract art to figurative pieces. I think figurative pieces can be too predictable and too easy to understand. Abstract art gives you the freedom of interpretation.
How do you decide on buying a particular piece of art?
I do have a few big names but I generally just pick up what I like. My husband is an architect and I am a designer, and hence both of us have an eye for art. I picked up some early works of Atul Sinha when they were cheap, purely by instinct.
What do you think about the much-discussed boom in contemporary Indian art?
I think it’s something that was waiting to happen. Institutions such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s have put us on the international map. However, this boom has not touched all aspects of art. People who were already well known have become more famous, but this surge has not reached the grass roots. There is still a lot of struggle for upcoming artists. Some students in Indian art colleges are brilliant but they have not been able yet to make it to the mainstream.
Do you think of art as an investment?
Yes, but you have to be focused on what you are buying. The works of established artists that are already so expensive won’t appreciate much. You have to have a knack for picking up lesser known, younger artists, whose works can give you a better return on your investment. Of course, that involves a significant risk as well.
How much did you pay for the installation?
At that time, around 10 years ago, I paid her about Rs50,000, but I guess the price now should be around Rs4 lakh.
Rama Rawat’s ceramic installations sell for between Rs20,000 and Rs2 lakh.