India’s contemporary artists no longer seek accolades from just Indians, they compete with the world’s best, says Kent Charugundia of TamarindArt gallery.
Speaking at the inauguration of the India@60
celebrations, he said Indian art had “come a long way” since the progressive art movement that arose at the time of independence. The new generation of Indian artists “had taken art to a whole new level”.
Charugundia recalls how in 2001, one could buy an MF Husain, which would fetch half-a-million dollars today, for $12,000. “Between 2001 and 2004, Indian art saw price increases of as much as 500 per cent a year,” he marvels.
Prices have plateaued now. At recent sales at Sotheby’s, for example, Indian paintings were sold at the low-end of their valuations.
Charugundia believes this is good news. “This shows collectors have become more mature, more discriminatory. They don’t want to just buy a Souza, they want to buy the best Souza.” Indian art collectors now do a lot of research. “They check if the painting was in a catalogue, whose collection it came from, which gallery the artist was associated with.”
In any case, low-end valuations are often still in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A painting by Atul Dodiya recently went for $500,000.
Charugundia, who sees his mission as educating the world about Indian culture, says: “The beauty of new Indian artists is that there is nothing particularly Indian about them. They have a truly global audience with an international citizenship.”