7 Jan 2008

The colours of 2008

Controversies, price fluctuations and celebrity art shows – they all made news last year. The Indian art scene hit new heights and then seemed to flounder for a little while. Fortunately, the year end auctions saw a renewed interest in the contemporary artists, where NS Harsha, Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta and TV Santosh performed well at the Christie’s Hong Kong auction of Asian contemporary art. And, the Saffron art winter auction held in early December collected more than Rs 30 crores, where SH Raza, Tyeb Mehta, FN Souza, Rameshwar Broota, Jogen Chowdhury and MF Husain were amongst those who fetched the highest prices.

painting by MF Husain
How does the art market look like in 2008? It seems Indian art and artists will continue to make waves both at the domestic front and internationally. This should translate into a subsequent increase in the number of art shows, galleries and dealers. Younger artists who have the talent are also likely to do well. According to art collector Harish Padmanabha, “popularity of modern artists will hit the stands once again. No one can take away credit from stalwarts like Husain, Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Gaitonde and Ganesh Pyne.”

Which artists will do well? Padmanabha asserts, “It is difficult to predict the future of new artists who are at the beginning of their careers. But, the interest in contemporary artists is likely to continue. Also, the global interest in Indian art will continue to gradually build.”
Artist Ravikumar Kashi feels, “the market has slowed down somewhat in the last few months, but personally I have done well. Soon the market should start to look up.” Buyers have become more discerning and this trend is likely to continue. With awareness comes the ability to judge and that is one reason why footfalls have not converted into sales in the last year. Bangalore is fast emerging as a hotspot for art after Mumbai and Delhi. Hopefully, local artists will soon get their due and this should reduce disparity in prices of artists from Bangalore versus Delhi and Mumbai.

(Published in Financial Times)
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