Art for profit: Does the artist deserve a share? | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Art for profit: Does the artist deserve a share?

Veteran Mumbai-based artist AA Raiba will turn 90 on July 20. But he cut his birthday cake at the Clark House Initiative art gallery in Colaba on July 5, in the presence of artists, curators, art students and teachers, grinning from ear to ear.

mumbai Updated: Jul 08, 2012 01:30 IST
Riddhi Doshi

Veteran Mumbai-based artist AA Raiba will turn 90 on July 20. But he cut his birthday cake at the Clark House Initiative art gallery in Colaba on July 5, in the presence of artists, curators, art students and teachers, grinning from ear to ear.

That’s because Thursday marked the opening of an exhibition that will be Clark House’s 90th birthday gift to him, where 20% of the proceeds will go to the artist.

The exhibition is titled ‘AA Raiba: Droit de Suite/Artist’s Resale Rights, after a French term that means ‘right to follow’, a right granted to artists and their heirs under the law in France and the UK, assuring them of a share of the proceeds every time one of their works is re-sold. This right is valid for 70 years after the death of the artist.

At Clark House, six vibrant paint-on-jute works by Raiba, sourced from private collectors and dating back to the 1960s, will be on sale till July 22.

“India has no such law. So we decided to use the example of Raiba, whose family is not wealthy, to spread awareness about this right of the artists and try to introduce it as a moral practice,” says Sumesh Sharma, co-founder of the Clark House art space.

For Raiba, the exhibition and the initiative are an affirmation of his life’s work. “I am happy that people still like my work and that this special initiative has been organised,” he says.

Added his son Najib, 42, an insurance agent: “In India, there are no pension plans for artists and hence no financial security for them in their old age. I am glad that Clark House has come forward to educate people about resale rights.”

Art experts say resale rights are particularly important for senior artists such as Raiba, whose works initially sold for just a few hundreds rupees when they hit the market decades ago and now fetch several lakhs each.

“It is only fair that these artists get some share of the huge sums of money being made by collectors on their works,” says Zasha Colah, co-director of Clark House.

This issue first began to be discussed in May 2005, when ‘Kali’, a painting by the late Tyeb Mehta, sold for Rs 1 crore.

“Mehta lived a modest life with few luxuries and people in the art world began to talk about how this was unfair,” says Tarana Khubchandani, owner of gallery Art & Soul, Worli. “Nothing came of all the talk, but it is high time such rights were introduced in India.”