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Indian abstract art finds its niche

An international surge in demand for Indian abstract art in 2005 has prices soaring.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 12:43 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Indian abstract art and artists are finally getting their due - coveted for creativity and aesthetics - and the international market is turning bullish.

There has been a surge in demand for Indian abstract art in 2005, with works of eminent abstract artists going under the hammer for whopping prices and galleries holding a host of shows.

Auctions of the paintings of Syed Haider Raza, Ram Kumar and others at Christie's and Sotheby's in 2005 fetched attractive earnings, indicating that Indian abstract art has finally got its place under the sun.

Each painting of these two Indian artists, which earlier cost around Rs.5 million each, crossed the Rs.10 million mark.

Abstract art is often dubbed as complex since it does not depict objects as they are, only keeping an allusion of the original natural subject.

However, it is the ability to capture the depicted object's immutable intrinsic qualities rather than its external appearance that is a big allure for the cognoscenti.

"Abstract art has the ability to keep us in touch with nature and speaks in a language which is universal. I am happy that abstract art is getting its due recognition," Raza told IANS over telephone from Paris.

Raza, a pillar of the progressive artists group that laid the foundation of contemporary art in India, is inspired by the concept of 'bindu', which is the predominant motif in most of his paintings.

The fact that the abstractionists' oeuvre is being discerned and appreciated is evident from the host of shows organised by art galleries.

Vadehra art gallery in New Delhi set a record of sorts last year with two shows of Ram Kumar's works.

Come Feb 11 and artist Akhilesh's specially curated show Rupadhyatam will get under way at the Palette art gallery here.

This will also showcase works of Raza, Sujata Bajaj, Akhilesh, Manish Pushkale and Seema Ghurayya, all abstractionists in the true tenor of abstraction.

Residents of New Delhi will get to appreciate a rich, creative repertoire with varying styles, techniques and temper in resonating visual language.

The show will travel to Tao Art Gallery in Mumbai and thereafter to Singapore with the works of Raza, Bajaj, Akhilesh, Pushkale and Smriti Dikshit.

"I will be flying to Singapore," says the octogenarian Raza, who believes that as an artist of mettle he is only 25 years old.

"This is because my evolution in the strict world of abstraction began only 25 years ago," says he with wry humour.

Also in New Delhi, Apparao Galleries recently held a show of Dikshit who uses threads and pieces of textiles to speak of abstraction in dimensions.

Gallery Espace will celebrate its new space with 10 water colour paintings by Bengal master and abstractionist Ganesh Haloi of Kolkata.

Haloi's most ardent collector has been Rene Hartman in New Delhi. "Haloi is a genius in his own right," says Hartman who has been collecting abstract art for the past 15 years.

In Mumbai, Art Musings will host a solo show on Feb 24 of the Paris-based Bajaj.

Despite a huge clientele in Norway, Paris and London, Sujata says: "India is very special and precious for me." This year her series will be titled "Fire and Water."

In 2005, Bodhi Art had a solo show of Rajendra Dhawan in Mumbai with the Deutsche Bank hosting the inaugural. Dhawan also lives in Paris.

"I think abstract art by Indian artists is catching up in terms of the interest it is arousing and the huge prices that these works command," says a collector from Mumbai.

"The five elements are universal and it is this universality that is being acknowledged. Indian art is rooted in the vitality of form and true abstraction embraces that," says Raza.

First Published: Jan 31, 2006 12:33 IST

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