Indian Contemporary Art makes its mark

Indian Contemporary Art makes its mark

New Delhi: While art markets in the US, UK and several other countries have taken a blow with top auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s selling below estimated prices, Indian artists together with their Chinese counterparts have been able to sufficiently weather the storm so far.

The art market in India growing at 35% stands at approximately over Rs1500 crores. In the European circuit, Indian art today commands a value, which is 300-400% higher than what it was 4 to 5 years ago.

The year 2008 has been one of many firsts in the country for the art market. In its very first year the ‘India Art Summit´- the first art fair in the country modelled on the likes of international fairs such as Basel Art Fair in Spain is said to have attracted over 10,000 art enthusiasts including art collectors, investors, artists, critics, curators and students from across India and overseas.

India is witnessing exponential growth both culturally and commercially and is now known as the fourth most buoyant art market in the world. Contemporary art from India fetched record prices at various auctions.

The total auction market size of Indian art has changed from five years ago from $5 million in 2003 to nearly $150 million this year.

Three works of Subodh Gupta sold for around $1 million at the Rockefeller Plaza during the second day of Christie’s Asian Art Week auction titled “South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art" in September.

Other notable million-dollar sales included Maqbool Fida Husain’s “Ritual" which sold for $1,022,500 and Tyeb Mehta’s “Untitled (Yellow Heads)" for $9,02,500. At the Christie’s South Asian Modern Contemporary Art auction Gupta’s ‘Steel 2´ painting fetched $1,166,500 from an estimated price between $8,00,000 to $10,00,000.

At UK’s Serpentine Gallery a group of 25 Indian artists have been put up on display. This is the first time that artists from India are getting such a representation in UK. One of the artists at the gallery is M F Hussain, one of the best known in the art world forced to seek exile in Dubai and alternating between London and Dubai continues to fetch good prices.

“We are very excited about the attention Contemporary Indian art is drawing around the world. We have always believed that Indian contemporary art has tremendous potential, and the consistent interest that we have witnessed among collectors for this genre has reinforced this,“ says co founder and director of Saffronart, Dinesh Vazirani.

Neville Tuli of Osian’s had recently forayed into new fields of art such as Japanese samurai helmets and armours, Ningyo dolls, African tribal masks, Polish film posters, Chinese and Soviet political propaganda artefacts and magic memorabilia.

The historic painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicting a royal scene, the costliest ever of the well-known artist, was unveiled at the Osian’s Cinefan festival of Asian and Arab cinema in the capital.

Bought for a whopping over $60 million from British auction house Bonhams at London by Neville Tuli, founder, Osian’s Connoisseur of Art, the 1880’s painting titled ‘The Maharaja of Travancore´ would be put up for public display at the soon to be inaugurated cultural complex ‘Osianama,´in Mumbai.

Quite early in the year 2008 in the month of January stunning murals by fifth-century painters in dimly lit man-made caves in India have found place in the latest edition of the renowned magazine, National Geographic.

Awe-inspiring art works by 21 Indian and international artists were set up at eight heritage sites along the route of the Delhi Metro as part of a mega project to raise awareness about the capital city’s ecology and reclaim its public spaces.

Titled ‘48 degree C’, the festival organisers, a collaboration with Gothe-Institute/ Max Mueller Bhawan, GTZ, and the Delhi Government had billed the project as the Delhi’s first public art festival. (With PTI adds)