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Art market finally looking up?

With a slew of new events lined up and corporates investing big bucks in local talent, the recession may finally be ending for Indian artists and galleries. Read on for more.

art and culture Updated: Oct 08, 2011 15:39 IST
Shweta Mehta
Shweta Mehta
Hindustan Times

The slump in the art market may well be a thing of the past, if these current and upcoming initiatives are anything to go by. From on-ground and virtual art fairs to privatised funding and corporate backing, of late artists are receiving support from all quarters.

"Art goes back 7,000 years, so if we start packaging it properly, it has huge potential," says Shailendra Singh, joint managing director, Percept Limited, which has just launched Percept Art to patronise chosen artists and make artworks more accessible. He adds, "Abroad, auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s are very well organised, just like stock exchanges. We’ll have consultants to advise our investors and buyers on how to buy wisely and get a good price.

This will also be the inaugural year of India Art Collective, the country’s first virtual art fair. And co-founder Sapna Kar has big plans to expand it already: "We have 40 exhibitors on board with an inventory of 800-odd works by around 200 artists, so it’s a great start. After this year, we have a huge possibility of including global galleries and international art. There is so much we can do with it because the same collective principle can be used in several ways."

ArtAnother event that will flag off this year is the India Art Festival. But ask secretary Rajendra if investing so much money into an event of this sort is wise in the present scenario and he shoots back, "After the slump began in 2008, prices went down by 50 to 60 per cent, but that is common in all fields. Now, we have to win back the confidence of buyers and collectors."

Point to him that the slump is still on and he explains, "Prices remain high because the original growth was unnatural. But the major slump is over and the market has started picking up a bit."

Feroze Gujral, model-turned-entrepreneur, started Outset India this year as a means to attract private funding for art in India. She sums up the scope of India’s art market saying, "The contemporary Indian art scene is growing at a fast pace, second only to China. It is considered as a serious business with a turnover of over $350 million in 2011. It is an investment taken very seriously by all. Our country has immense potential to flourish in this space."

India Art Collective

India’s first virtual art fair, which will be available to view from 10 am on November 19 till 7 pm on November 25 at Over 40 Indian galleries have confirmed their participation. They have all consigned a minimum of 40 works for viewing and sale at the fair. "A lot of people don’t have access to the best work because they are scattered across the world," says Sapna Kar, co-founder and fair director, adding, "It will work exactly like a physical art fair, except instead of visiting a booth, you can see the works virtually."

Kar claims that the main functions of her venture are to create awareness and reduce marketing budgets: "Galleries can reach out to audiences at a fraction of the cost. For collectors, there’s transparency in prices."

Percept Art
For us in the business of sports, music, movies and advertisements, we create experiences. In art, we feel it’s not a commodity, but something one can build a relationship with,” says Shailendra Singh, joint managing director, Percept Limited. With the launch of a 5,000 square foot gallery in Lower Parel, Percept Art will kick off by promoting artist Ajay Gulati, with a three-pronged strategy. “We have three different price brackets to allow people with all kinds of budgets to buy his work,” explains Singh, whose company will look not just at more artists in the near future, but also organise fairs and auctions.

Outset India
A charitable foundation set up by Feroze Gujral, Outset India focuses on bringing private funding from its supporters and trustees to public museums, galleries and art projects. It’s based on the model of the existing Outset UK, which has been running successfully for eight years now. “In India, art is very strongly linked to culture, craft and design. We hope to support all new art by raising production level funding as well as showcasing the artist both nationally and internationally,” says Gujral, of the global philanthropic art foundation.

India Art Festival
From November 17 to 20, the inaugural India Art Festival will be held at Nehru Centre, Worli. The event will have close to 116 stalls dedicated to artwork, all of which have already been booked. “We want to strengthen the gallery system in India by bringing artists and galleries together on the same platform,” informs Rajendra, secretary of the festival. “Because there are 400 to 500 galleries, but over one-lakh artists, many don’t get inducted into the system. Usually, artists are not allowed to participate in such fairs without being affiliated to a gallery, so that’s the first thing we’re changing.”

The fair will not only present Indian and international works for viewing and buying, but also conduct various seminars on topics such as the art of art collection, whether criticism in India is non-existent, educating artists on how to represent themselves and the current state of the art market.

First Published: Oct 08, 2011 15:31 IST