The Ghevarias are an unassuming couple, and typical of their Jain beliefs, their apartment in the central Mumbai suburb of Sion is a study in self-control, with bare walls and simple furniture, the only embellishment is a solid wood swing hanging at the living room window.
But in a room adjoining the living area, you get a blow by blow of their underlying passion: the entire space is filled with rows of wooden frames and multi-sized black portfolios filled with prints. “I have more than 1,000,” says 57-year-old Dilip Ghevaria, one of the most serious print collectors in the country, with works of everyone from Kavita Shah and Yogesh Rawal to Rm. Palaniappan, Laxma Goud, M.F. Husain and S.H. Raza in his repertoire.
The Indian art world, as much as its consumers, have always looked down upon print-making as the handicapped sibling of canvas works. Prints are not one of a kind, they’re made in a limited edition of 40 to 125, but around the world prints have always held a market of their own, with dedicated galleries and collectors.
“Serigraphs, lithographs, linocuts, woodcuts and various types of Intaglio prints are globally accepted as fine art prints and are recognised as multiple original works of art, unlike photo-mechanically reproduced prints, or posters,” says 38-year-old Lavesh Jagasia of Serigraph Studio, which is dedicated to creating serigraphs of masters’ works in collaboration with the artist.
Since 2003, Serigraph Studio has sold limited edition works of Raza, Ram Kumar, Paritosh Sen, Jogen Chowdhury and Jehangir Sabavala, and is planning a Rameshwar Broota exhibition in end 2007. The pieces are priced between Rs45,000 and Rs1,50,000, and Jagasia sells through galleries, or www.serigraphstudio.com.
Jagasia and Ghevaria got into the underrated print market because they felt the focus of the art world was too limited and obsessed with high-priced painted works and sculptures. “Few people could afford to appreciate art. It was like the old days, when kings would cut off the hands of artisans to prevent them from making the same work for anyone else. But art is not meant to be so feudal,” says Ghevaria, who’s turned to the most democratic institution of all, the Web, to reach out to people. His website, to be launched in four months, will sell and dispense information on his works.
The price appreciation of prints largely depends on the seller; for instance, Jagasia prices his serigraphs in such a way that as an edition gets sold, the value increases. “By the time the edition is sold out, the value can increase more than 50%,” he says. At a Bonhams London auction earlier this month, a portfolio of Jehangir Sabavala serigraphs printed by Jagasia sold for £32,000.
His printed works are signed, numbered and titled by the artist, and come with a certificate of authenticity, and a guarantee from the publisher backed by a guarantee from the artist that he/she will not make any more editions of an image that’s already been replicated.
Ghevaria, an industrialist who manufactures plastic tubes and pipes under the name Tubecraft, has been collecting prints for almost 15 years, and hunts for new talent in art schools and exhibitions.
He says his website will have the perfect solution for people who are shy of buying art by dollars and cents. “Key in your budget, and the site will offer up prints available for that amount. It can’t get easier than that.”