'Indian artists among the world's best'

  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, New York
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  • Updated: Sep 26, 2007 03:15 IST
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.”

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