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‘My collection is dead money’

art and culture Updated: Dec 14, 2009 17:28 IST
Jigna P
Jigna P
Hindustan Times
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Six hundred artworks collected over a period of five years! That’s Bose Krishnamachari’s private art collection. The versatile artist shares more about collecting art as he celebrates 20 years of being an artist, collector, curator and, a gallerist with an exhibition that opens today. Alas! Viewers will get to see only 30 of the 600 works. The exhibition is also a revisit to his project, LaVA, a travelling library of books, DVDs and CDs on art and design.

How did you get started with collecting art and what were your first possessions?
Art is my passion. I started collecting about five years back. I do not plan my career. Except my marriage nothing else was planned in my life. The first artwork I collected was made by Professor Ingle from J J School of Art, who’d rusticated me when I studied there. I bought the second work at a sale of 1,000 ink drawings when I was a student at Goldsmith in the UK. Although I did not have money, I bought it for 60 pounds.

How did you expand your collection?
I believe in Karl Marx’s statement, that man is his own maker. I like to make things happen with my hard work and dedication. I am not a dreamer. I work hard for what I want. If I don’t have money and I want something, I earn the money and collect it. That’s my real collection.

Do you re-sell the artworks?
No, never and nor do I barter my collection. (Laughs) My collection is dead money. For me everything is art — posters, advertisements, bags and even invitation cards. I’m not against investment in the art market. But I think it’s interesting when an artist collects art of other artists.

Art to you is?
There’s art in everything. In the way you dress, in advertisements, fashion, design and architecture. Everything you do is art. In fact, I like to call artworks as art objects.

Do you consult anyone while buying these works?
I might sometimes ask my artist friends. I play a little game there. I ask them about a work that I don’t like, but I’m actually eyeing another one.

What are the trends you noticed in the Indian art world over the last two decades?
Indian art transformed through the west. It is because west promoted Indian art and artists that they are successful. Artists like Sudarshan Shetty and Riyas Komu were promoted by collectors in the west. That’s because they understand art that is not familiar and they understand that art is all about freedom. Anish Kapoor wanted to exhibit in India but there’s no space here for his art. There are no institutions. Artists miss opportunities because we don’t have the space or the vision in Mumbai or other cities.

How do you manage your three roles of an artist, collector and gallerist?
I’m serious about what I’m doing. I feel the same kind of pressure being an artist and a gallerist. People think I’m ambitious. I’m not. But it’s good if they think so.

What’s the latest trend in the Indian art scene these days?
I’m curating a show and I noticed that the number of women artists I chose is more than the male artists. I think women artists in India, these days, are much more stronger than men. There’s Charmi Shah Gada, Suchitra Gahlot and many upcoming names to look out for.

What’s your wish list?
I wish I were rich. I would have changed this world then. I’d like to be a capitalist, to be a communist.

What’s the next big artwork you want?
I’d like to have artwork by Marcel Duchamp, ‘Puppy’ by Jeff Koons, more work by Sudharshan Shetty. And I’m sure I will have it!


At the exhibition
Frank O Gehry, Andy Warhol, Tejal Shah, Nikhil Chopra, Minam Apang, Riyas Komu, Julian Opie, Bani Abidi, Damien Hirst, Sudarshan Shetty, AvinashVeeraraghavan, Chirodeep Chowdhury, Vivek Vilasini, Bose Krishnamachari, Prasad Raghavan, Ed Ruscha, Sudarshan Shetty, Sheba Chhachhi, CK Rajan, NM Rimzon, Alex Mathew, Anita Dube, Jon Kessler, Siji R Krishnan, Vivan Sundaram, Prajakta Palav, Praneet Soi, Yashwant Deshmukh

About art collecting
Be generous with your love and passion. Make things happen. Wrong suggestions can make things go wrong. For example, most of the times, galleries failed to promote an artist because they only wanted to make money. I think galleries should educate people about collecting – what to invest in and what not.

About LaVA
LaVA is a travelling installation project. Being positioned as a contemporary-temporary knowledge laboratory for the people, the archival project comprises 5,000 books and 1,400 DVDs and CDs, culled from museums, institutions, galleries, shops and streets from major art capitals – most of them hand-picked.

“I am trying to make available, within my limitations, what I really missed during my student years. The laboratory manifests my ambition to extend this project, as an ideal place for visual art practitioners and theorists, as a museum of total knowledge: a room within an institution, an art project within a museum.”

Museums and institutions are not doing philanthropic projects. BMB becomes an institution in itself with this show. For 45 days the gallery won’t make any money. People from different fields should make use of this opportunity.

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