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Nouveau artists, master strokes

world Updated: Nov 24, 2008 00:46 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
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“Expressing my world away from home inspires me. Money is welcome, but it’s not the driving force,” says artist Kiran Kotecha who reflects cross-culture influences of East and West in her paintings.

They’re all artists of recent years who are passionate about their work.

Whether it’s Michael Silas, Shantiniketan-inspired visual essayist Rathin, LN Rana who holds a master of fine arts degree in painting from Jamia Milia or Kiran Kotecha who reflects the attitude of all new artists.

A few years earlier their works would not have been noticed, much less get displayed.

Masters have ruled. Collectors have sought a Monet, a Souza, a Hussain. The value of their works has kept soaring for decades.

The well-heeled art collectors, who spent millions for the aesthetic grandeur of masterpieces, have now realised that money spent on these paintings could be a profitable investment. And it has been true, so far.

But now with the banking world in free fall and the art world dealing in millions-of-pounds works in a rocket-powered descent, the desire to see works of lesser-known artists is discernible.

As Sangeeta Ahuja, who specialises in sponsoring exhibitions like ‘Emerging Indian Art’ and ‘Shantiniketan’ in London for young talent as well as established ones, says, “The new buyers and even some established art collectors buy works of artists of say three or four years vintage hoping these unknown artists of today will be Souzas and Hussains of tomorrow.”

During summer, at the Canvasindia exhibition in London, the works of 21 artists — some well known, others of recent vintage — attracted a large number of prospective collectors. The prices ranged from £500 to £7,000. In two days, works of seven artists were sold.

One art critic said he was impressed by the paintings of a few, with whose names he was not familiar until then.

A similar concept inspired Chanda Chaudhary Barrai to set up online art@thefuschiatree which has presented an Art-In-Décor exhibition showcasing “world art at its eclectic best” by a mélange of artists from around the world, be it India, Brazil or Africa. Affordable Art Fairs are now a regular fixture on the London art calendar.

Monica Mohata, minister of Culture and director of Nehru Centre???, welcomes the trend. “Good art is good art, irrespective of its artist. Whether madhubani or even rangoli, they are good art. Who can be the judge of their value?”

Nisha Paul, daughter-in-law of Lord Swraj Paul and art collector has the last word. “I would buy a painting that appeals to me and looks nice on a wall in my house. It does not matter who the artist is.”