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Sumptuous art catalogues

As the art mart in India plunges into the crest, many galleries in India are wooing artists and collectors with elaborate catalogues.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 13:01 IST

As the art mart in India plunges into the crest of the art boom,some galleries are wooing artists and collectors alike, with catalogues that are sumptuous spreads and feature in depth, vignettes of artistic creativity.

There was a time when catalogues for art exhibitions were small enough to carry around from picture to picture, giving gallery-goers a handy source of information beyond what wall panels could convey.

However, in the past year catalogues have swollen to the size of encyclopedias. As a consequence of these developments, you will now find some of the liveliest current writing on art in these often unwieldy exhibition guides, and some of the most vivid reproductions.

Spectacular shows were mounted over 2005-2006, on a scale many thought impossible in our time of wary travellers and insurers, with equally eye-opening catalogues in their wake.

Tunty Chauhan created a delightful mix of drawings and photos, when she had the show of Akbar Padamsee at the Alliance Francaise in New Delhi.

"Catalogues are an expensive proposition.I think in the past we would keep it small, sometimes even just a card but in the past year competitive advantages have brought in different tastes", says she.

At Vadehras, it was Anju Dodiya's catalogue written by Nancy Adjania that was an artistic statement of words and worth. What was disappointing however was the hard truth that the historic Picasso show had no catalogue.

"Obviously Vadehras did not want to spend that kind of money", says a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

At Mumbai it is Art Musings who brought out a delectable 100 page catalogue for sculptor Radhakrishnan's show with a brilliant write up by Ranjit Hoskote.To match his show in Delhi at Art Alive to celebrate his 50th birthday bash it was Geeti Sen the guru of art critics who wrote an insightful essay for the catalogue.

"Catalogues are very expensive but they reflect a gallery's sense of style", says Manu Dessaj of Gallery Alternatives who finds Bodhi Art Catalogues the touch of class above the rest of India.

"Bodhi Art's Angkor Vat catalogue and their Rajendra Dhawan catalogues have been brilliant", says Manu, "they are valuable documentation of artistic trends in abstract art which are rare to get in India because abstraction has not really been written about".

Palette Art Director Rohit Gandhi designs his own catalogues.

His Masters exhibition saw a fine book with essays and reprdocutions,while his Roop Adhyatam catalogue was loved for its reproductions,though the essay was somewhat disappointingly dull.

But the catalogue that astounded lovers in India and Singapore was Bodhi Art's Atul Dodiya catalogue designed by veteran Tania Dasgupta and printed at Pragat Offset in Hyderabad. "A catalogue in itself must be a work of artistic brilliance and insght',said critic Geeti Sen who is waiting for the abstract art catalogue that Bodhi will present on March 3 in Singapore, for the abstract show that includes master Gaitonde and Raza.

The catalogue for Bodhi has a set of haiku verses specially composed by Bodhi Art's critic along with 6 special essays that for the first time document abstract art in today's relevant state of relationships with trends. "Doing the Bodhi Art catalogue for the abstract artists was a challenge', says the Bodhi Art critic who conceptualised it differently with its Manager Anubha Dey and designer Tania Dasgupta.

Two other galleries doing small but special catalogues are Anant Art Gallery and Gallerie Nvya. Viraj Naik who came from Goa recently sold out in 2 days and his catalogue Blue Ants was greatly appreciated by collectors Indian and foreign.

However Nvya's best in terms of visual and verbal appeal was its ceramic catalogue which Geeti Sen called "a work of art".

With special photgraphs shot by ace camera man Shailan Parker and designed by the curator herself this catalogue called Terra Natura was a stylised dictate of artistic virtuosity.

"Terra Natura was a catalogue that I sent all over the world", says potter Manisha Bhattacharya, "there were so many famous potters who wrote in and said What a brilliant catalogue"!

"It shows that in India catalogues are equally competitive and pleasing to the eyes".Shailan Parker says:"I think Terra Natura set a trend for doing a catalogue with a difference, it went against convention to find a new language and that is what made it so special.

'Parker has just shot images for "Gallerie Ganesha's Form Function Fantasy" catalogue which has fun stuff by the likes of Paresh Maity Jayasri Burman,Sisir Sahana Neeraj Goswami and others.

For the moment extraordinary reproductions and swirling creativity are setting new highs and Bodhi Art seems to be taking a lead to dictating fashion trends in the creation of catalogues according to international standards.