28 May 2007

Indian Art Scene

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Investment in Indian art has never looked better before. If reports from international auctions are any indication, Indian art and artists have performed exceedingly well in the recent past. At the Christies auction held in London earlier this month, Indian artists fared extraordinarily well where Syed Haider Raza's ‘La Terre’ (1985) went for 720,000 pounds, followed closely by VS Gaitonde (490,000 pounds), FN Souza (311,200 pounds), MF Husain (132,000 pounds) and Akbar Padmasee (204,000 pounds). Similarly, according to reports from Sothebys, in 2006, artists and artworks from India (and China) performed outstandingly well where Sotheby's Asian Art sales alone totaled US $332,000,000.

The domestic market too is thriving well, with auction houses such as Saffronart recording excellent sales. This in turn spells good news for those owning artworks by well-known Indian artists who are in demand internationally. Remember, in an auction the seller stands to gain the most. Auction houses work on a commission basis and generally the artist does not figure anywhere in the sale proceeds.

Where earlier it was seen that even at international level, Indians and NRIs were the ones investing in Indian art, the trend is slowing changing and the buyer base is now expanding to include non-Indians, as well. Despite, a correction in the prices, (recently, the art index dropped from around 3400 to 2200) the art market continues to sustain itself and is even expected to recover soon. There are a number of domestic and international auctions lined up this year and the results are bound to affect the market.

One has to just look around to realize how extensive and deep the interest in Indian art is - the spurt in number of art galleries, dealers, consultants, art funds all bear testimony to the fact that Indian art is happening and how. The demographic age has also dropped to include buyers in their twenties who are looking at art as part of their investment portfolio. And, the best part with investing in art is its intrinsic value which one can constantly enjoy and derive pleasure from.

(Published in Financial Times)