Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 60 x 40 in.
The Arts Trust.
[April 30, 2006 19:02 IST] Rituparna Som for DNA INDIA - AFTER HRS.
Arty hearty: As an art dealer, Farah Siddique leaves little to doubt about her love for art. There’s even an appointed canvas that her fiancé uses when they fight, “because it just calms me down!” she laughs. “One of my collectors has a Husain of horses galloping across in her drawing room and I just can’t sit in that room – it’s so energetic.”
Young upstart: At 24, she’s curated three shows, including a group show with women artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, another with Bangladeshi artists and an Arzan Khambatta show on the beach. Her interest started with her mother who would write on art in Delhi. “In my own small way, I want to eventually start promoting younger upcoming artists, like people straight out of college,” says Farah. “I will be traveling a lot now, just to source new talent.”
Birla bonding: Farah is an independent dealer but she also represents one of the oldest art galleries in India, Dhoomimal in Delhi. “I’ve studied with Vasundhara Broota in Delhi. While I was in college (the Delhi girl studied in Sydenham College in Mumbai), I wrote for the wedding magazine ‘Marwar’ and then somehow got involved in working at Yantra with Yash and Avanti Birla. I even helped them set up their store in Delhi,” she explains.
Lucky lot: It’s not a silver spoon she was born with, but the way she stumbled upon her first job is just incredulous. “I was working out at my gym when someone from Marwar came up to me and said I was so bubbly and energetic that they would love to have me in their team,” she giggles, adding that she even met her fiancé at the same gym.
Future present: “People are just interested in the investment and not so much in the art. Four businessmen pool money and buy and sell art. Some of my collectors come in and ask me what is so special about a Souza. ‘It looks like something my 5-year-old can do,’ they claim. That is a little funny but it’ll fade out in time. People research online and there is much more documentation than ever on Indian art,” she says, adding, “in future I might not be a dealer always and I’m planning to do an auctioneering course soon.” Right now though, her upcoming nuptials are keeping her busy.
Article Courtesy: DNA INDIA.
[April 30, 2006] Paromita Chakrabarti for DELHI NEWSLINE.
Two Pakistani artists point out the similarities and differences they share with India in art.
Can you make out from her face whether she is an Indian or a Pakistani?’’ demands veteran Pakistani artist Saeed Akhtar, pointing at his oil on canvas portraiture of a flower seller. “The emotions and the expressions are the same everywhere. That’s what an artist works upon.’’ It sounds like a cliche, as if the 67-year-old artist is eager to brush aside the question regarding his country’s relationship with India. Instead, he wants to dwell on the ‘‘positive aspects’’ of his visit: his participation in Euphonic Palettes, an art show organised by Nitanjali Art Gallery. This is Akhtar’s second exhibition in the country in a career spanning three decades, as cultural exchanges become a major CBM platform between the two countries. Along with Akhtar, stalwarts like Jamil Naqsh, Raja Changez Sultan and other upcoming artists like R M Naeem and wife Sadaf are showing their works with the Indian counterpart. This includes Anjolie Ela Menon, Paritosh Sen, Shruti Gupta Chandra and Sunil Das. One of Pakistan’s leading artists, Akhtar’s forte is portrait painting. He has created commissioned sculptures of prominent leaders of his nation. A former head of the Department of the National College of Art, Lahore, he has held exhibitions across the globe. “Even though religion has largely defined the cultural movements of the two countries, there is a similarity between our artistic principles. Like artists of both the countries use warmer colours in their paintings.’’ But there are subtle differences. Sadaf Naeem points out how artists face censure for portraying real events back at home. ‘‘It’s an aspect one learns to live with,’’ says the 28-year-old painter, whose paintings explore her “experiences of being a woman.’’. There are reflections of women on the walls— what Naeem calls the “presence and absence of women”. ‘‘The shadows spell security and warmth. They also mean that the women get relegated to the background.’’
The exhibition is on at Gallerie Romain Rolland till May 2.
Article Courtesy: CITIES EXPRESSINDIA.
[April 30, 2006 at 0053 hours IST] NIRBHAY KUMAR for THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS.
ABN Amro and Concern India Foundation organise a contemporary art exhibition in support of the deprived
ABN Amro recently sponsored an exhibition-cum-sale of contemporary Indian art, called Art for Concern in aid of Concern India Foundation at the Oberoi Hotel in Delhi. The money raised through the event would go to support t orphans, deserted and abused women, tribals, disabled and aged. The exhibition showcased around 80 paintings by renowned painters like Bulbul Sharma, Kavita Nayar and Subrata Kundu. Art for Concern initiative of Concern India Foundation (CIF) aims to raise funds to support development programmes in the areas of education, health, community development and environment. The foundation provides financial and other support to organisations working with the most vulnerable sections of society. Nitin Chopra, executive vice-president and the head-Consumer Banking, ABN Amro Bank, said, “The initiative is a small component of our corporate social responsibility, which lays special focus on art.” Organising events like Art for Concern is not new for CIF. “We appreciate the generous support offered by artists from all over the country in our endeavour. The fund raised through this event would help us support the various programmes being run for the disadvantaged,” said Kavita Shah, CEO, CIF. The colours spread on the canvases indeed promised to brighten up many colourless lives with hopes and affection.
Article Courtesy: THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS.
[April 30, 2006] Uma Nair for DAILY INDIA.
Fake! Is there another word that can cause such a tizzy in the art world, especially when applied to one of Vincent Van Gogh's iconic 'Sunflowers' for which a Japanese company paid $40 million in 1987, a record at the time? Fast forward to Indian art auctions in New York on March 29-30, this year. The news of 12 fakes being withdrawn from Christie's and Sotheby's Indian art auctions have ignited a furious debate about provenance, authentication and the manner of affirming real works in international auctions. It is, however, essential to understand the umbilical cord connecting the art of functioning in the auction world. The emergence of fakes even at the highest level with two auction houses of great prestige is an example of deception in an ambience of trust. Who gives works to the auction houses? Dealers, galleries, institutions and sometimes individuals who are deep into the practice of speculation. The art dealer becomes the auction house's most intimate ally. Judging from the doubt of provenance and authenticity of the 12 works that were withdrawn, it is clear that while dealers and galleries have a unique vantage point, putting up a fake for sale in an auction is an example of breach of trust and deception. A case in point is the Bowring auction held at the Oberoi Hotel in New Delhi some years ago. The Hemen Majumdar turned out to be stolen, while the Bendre turned out to be a dubious double - the original one hanging at a museum in Baroda. The occurrence of fakes in an auction is a reminder that the debate about authenticity is about the present as well as the past. Rumours in Delhi suggest that Majumdars at other auctions were also fake. When asked why it was not brought to light, an artist from the Bengal school said, 'Why be singled out and then be harassed by everyone?'
These are serious implications for any auction house that wants to deal credibly with collectors across the board. 'Nothing new about fakes,' Christies had said in an interview. One would have to be a little more honest in answering that query in terms of public interest. Fakes reflect badly on an auction house's ability to achieve its own goals. Surveying the record prices that auction houses have enjoyed over the past five years in the bull run for Indian art, one would like an honest articulation in terms of details. Who can say for sure that a great artwork is the real deal? It depends on whom you ask and when. Attributions of authorship often flip-flop from generation to generation, and a painting's journey from real to not-real and back again can mean windfall profits for the lucky and despair for those who sell or buy too soon. Art historians in the West have long used scientific tools to help them decide whether drawings and paintings are real or fakes, like counting isotopes in lead-based paints to spot anachronisms or shining X-ray and infrared radiation on oil portraits to discover what lies beneath. Nothing like that has been done in India. The public, if not the art world, has always harboured a secret admiration for the true masters of art forgery - men like Han van Meegeren who hoodwinked experts in the 1930's with his fake Vermeers. Then there was Eric Hebborn. As a self-proclaimed forger of old masters, Hebborn has few modern equals. The 60-year-old English-born artist claims to have counterfeited '500' works that have infiltrated private collections, auction houses, galleries and museums the world over.
The withdrawal of 12 fakes in Indian art brings to light the nature of revelation and the integrity of dealers in the auction network. People talk confidently about art and auctions, but it is not clear whether even the most ardent collector can spot a fake from a real. K.G. Subramanyan had stated an instance of Delhi's most celebrated collector being duped by a fake. The fake turned out to be from a gallery of repute. The preoccupation with a signature is the product of the bull run. When the million-dollar mark achieves such spectacular results, it seems as if a deeply probed interrogation of authentication is no longer considered a valid path to distinguishing a fake from a real. The rush for acquiring art often results in misplaced certainty, often unwittingly aided by media which also work obsessively on aggressive marketing and public relations. Art auctions today command the largest following and the highest prices in history. From New York to Hong Kong, the graveling goes at an ever-faster rate for virtually everything people collect. And, increasingly, collectors, dealers and institutions are taking the auction route to buy and sell precious wares. With the fake racket, the auction scene is now turning half theatre, half casino. At Christie's latest Indian art auction, abstract master Gaitonde's record was washed away by the news of the fakes. There is more to art than meets the cursory eye. Art fraud's new trick is to add fakes to archives. What is more valuable in the long run, style or authenticity? That question is increasingly redefining the rules of connoisseurship, especially in an era when a small folding table worth around $100 can bring more than $12,000 simply because Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis owned it.
(Uma Nair is an art critic based in New Delhi. She can be reached at email@example.com.)
Copyright Indo-Asian News Service
Article Courtesy: DAILY INDIA.
[April 28, 2006 19:08 IST] AFTER HRS - DNA INDIA.
Christie's to have its first sale of contemporary art next month.
Art buyers will pour into Dubai from across the globe when Christie's auction house has its first sale of modern and contemporary Western, Indian and Middle Eastern art there on May 24. Rival auction house Sotheby's will hold its first sale dedicated solely to Indian art since 1997 a day earlier, on May 23, in London. "This is the first time that Christie's has had an auction of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East. It points to an increase in international interest," says Ganieve Grewal, Christie's India representative. The sale's highlights include works by progressive artists MF Husain, SH Raza and FN Souza. Raza's 'Sourya' (Sun) is expected to sell for $400,000-600,000 (Rs 1.79 cr-Rs2.69cr), while Husain's 'Equus' and 'Mother Teresa' are both expected to sell between $200,000 (Rs 89.9 lakh) and $250,000 (Rs 1.12cr). Souza's 'Goa Landscape', a serene landscape of his childhood home, is estimated to sell between $200,000 (Rs 89.9 lakh) and $250,000 (Rs 1.12cr). Other highlights include Rameshwar Broota's dichromatic 'Numbers', which features three torsos with numbers painted on them, arms hugging them tight. It is estimate to sell between $80,000 (Rs 35.9 lakh) and $120,000 (Rs 53.9 lakh). Among the Pakistani artists whose works are on sale is Sadequain, whose work has been inspired by the poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Article Courtesy: DNA INDIA.
[April 29, 2006] Kishore Singh for BUSINESS STANDARD.
Laxman Pai’s oeuvre evolved from the pop art of the 1960s, though his themes are more varied. Paris defines Laxman Pai in more ways than one. The French beard, the flowing mane of thinning, white hair, even the thin vest that is threadbare at the chest, are almost an affectation — almost. And Pai himself is happiest talking of those days in Paris when “it was full of immigrants”, a time when artists Akbar Padamsee, F N Souza and S H Raza called it home. It was as part of this coterie of Indian artists — but always distinct from their stamp of work — that Pai made his presence in Paris felt. Served a disciplinary note by the J J School of Art in Bombay where he was a teacher (he had earlier also studied there), Pai sold the Rs 10,000 apartment in Mumbai gifted to him by his father and made off to Paris “where Raza made all my arrangements”. Raza got him a student card at the Ecole de Paris, and for the next 10 years, Pai devoted his life to studying and painting there. “With the student card,” he recalls of those heady days, “you could eat cheaply, concerts were subsidised and entry to museums was free.” Two interim visits to India and a short stint with Souza in London didn’t appeal to him, and he returned to the Paris of Picasso and Chagall, but as a rebel. “I didn’t study Western art at the J J School,” he says somewhat grandly, “and in Paris I wasn’t influenced by the Ecole de Paris but influenced them with my two-dimensional art, which is the basis for miniature art.”
Time and again Pai brings up his roots — in Goa and in Bombay — to justify the development of an oeuvre that, though rooted in India (and in forms of nature), can best be described as evolving from the sixties pop art that became a popular movement around the world. Decades later, that flamboyance, elements of kitsch and fluorescent colours still form the subject of his work, even though thematically he’s taken with elements from mythology and history, from family life, musical traditions, the seasons and so on. Hardly unusual for someone who was born into a strong musical tradition and has played the flute, violin, esraj and sitar like a pro. Far from Paris — which he left when Goa was liberated in 1961 — Pai has since lived and worked in Bombay, Goa and now, New Delhi. “It hardly matters where you are,” he reasons, on the day an exhibition of his Parisienne works opens at the Delhi Art Gallery, “what matters is observation” — and Pai, a keen walker, will tell you he can recall in pensive moments (like the poet William Wordsworth) forms he might have noted decades ago. “A person’s formative years are very important,” he insists, “and for me those years were spent in Bombay and Paris.” Given to living six months every year in the US with his son, Pai insists that now, as before, “I never take things at face value”. So what did he learn from his Paris decade? Pai looks at you keenly, then says: “I went to Paris to show them what I was worth.”
Article Courtesy: BUSINESS STANDARD.
[April 28, 2006] JEANNETTE CATSOULIS for The New York Times
Set in 1938 in the twilight of colonial India, "Water" focuses on a group of women condemned by Hindu law to spend the rest of their lives in an institution, or ashram, on the banks of the Ganges because they are widows. While the devout Shakuntula (Seema Biswas) spends her days assisting a local holy man, the limpid-eyed Kalyani (Lisa Ray) — the only widow whose head has not been shaved — is forced into prostitution by the ashram's domineering housemother. Employing a sly eunuch as go-between, the housemother sells Kalyani's services to a wealthy Brahmin on the other side of the river. The arrival of Chuyia (Sarala), a bewildered 8-year-old whose husband has just died, creates turmoil in the ashram. The child's impudence and high spirits encourage Shakuntula to question her fidelity to a religion that turns widows into penniless outcasts. Kalyani too is inspired to rebellion and begins a love affair with Narayan (the Bollywood star John Abraham), a handsome law student on fire with Gandhian idealism. But when Narayan's wealthy parents are informed of the relationship, the couple's defiance of religious and cultural taboos is an invitation to tragedy.
Written and directed by Deepa Mehta, "Water" is an exquisite film about the institutionalized oppression of an entire class of women and the way patriarchal imperatives inform religious belief. Serene on the surface yet roiling underneath, the film neatly parallels the plight of widows under Hindu fundamentalism to that of India under British colonialism. Though Gandhi and his followers are an insistent background presence, the movie is never didactic, trusting the simple rhythms of the women's lives to tell their story. Mustering a whole spectrum of luminous blues and greens, Ms. Mehta and her cinematographer, Giles Nuttgens, paint a vibrant world of lambent light and indigo shade. The lushness and texture of the ashram's surroundings are in stark contrast to the widows' unflattering white robes, which hang from their bodies like dirty bandages; but here even images of deprivation gleam like gold. Never has the Ganges (played here by a river in Sri Lanka) looked so inviting. Shifting between romantic melodrama and spiritual inquiry, "Water" flows with the simplicity of a fairy tale. The lovers' struggle may be the heart of the film, but Shakuntula's awakening is its soul. In the triumphant and moving final scene, her selfless act of bravery offers hope to Chuyia and India alike.
Picture 01: Sarala, who plays an 8-year-old widow, and Lisa Ray in "Water."
Article Courtesy: THE NEW YORK TIMES.
[April 28, 2006] THE HINDU
NEW DELHI: An exhibition featuring the works of 30 Indian contemporary artists is now on at Visual Art Gallery of India Habitat Centre here. F.N. Souza, Manu Parekh, Mona Rai, Jehangir Jani, Samit Dey, Tanujaa Rane and Zarina Hashmi are just some of the artists from across the country whose works are on display. The exhibits include select paintings from private collectors as well as new works of art from the participating artists.
The exhibition has been organised by Art Edge, an art-consulting firm that assists corporate houses in creating comprehensive art collections. Art Edge was launched in Mumbai in June 2002. Their first exhibition in the Capital, it is open up to April 30.
Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.
[APRIL 28, 2006 12:00:00 AM] NALINI S MALAVIYA for TIMES NEWS NETWORK.
The Indian art market is booming with heightened interest in the international arena with prices rising skywards. On the other hand, there have been a couple of instances recently where artworks were removed from international auctions since there was a shadow of doubt on their authenticity. Fakes have been around for many years but with huge sums of money involved now there is a greater need than ever before to authenticate artworks. Art collector Harish Padmanabha says, “knowledge is power and one should always go to reputed galleries and dealers who can substantiate with provenance certificates.” When buying art, awareness about the artist and the background of the artwork can give an indication to its authenticity. Many galleries and dealers give a letter of authenticity that has a digital scaled down image of the artwork, and details of the art piece such as the title, name of the artist, medium and size. It can also include date of the artwork and details on its origin. Some galleries will give this document by default while at other places you have to ask for it. Mona Webber from Gallery Sumukha says they have been giving the authentication certificate for the last three years. Issued on their letterhead, it carries the signature of the Gallery Director and also includes that of the artist whenever possible. She adds that the responsibility of selling an original artwork lies with the gallery and they must take appropriate steps to authenticate it even before it appears before the buyer. Fakes are more difficult to identify when the artist is no more. Without the artist’s signature, the work has no value or authenticity.
Article Courtesy: ECONOMIC TIMES.
[April 27, 2006] Indo-Asian News Service
Sotheby's is preparing for a special Indian art sale here on May 23, with some vintage works promising to make this auction head-turning. Other than contemporary Indian art, there is an impressive bust by Jacob Epstein of Rabindranath Tagore that is estimated at £10,000-15,000. Conceived in 1926 and cast in an edition of 16, the work on sale is the second of the series with a slightly wider shoulder base than others. Another rare work is a delectable soft hued wash by AR Chugtai estimated at £15,000-20,000. The subject of this painting relates to a short poem by Mirza Ghalib: "It is no seeing eye which cannot see the ocean in a drop/The whole in a bit/It is child's play then/For a child cannot see the ocean in a drop/The whole in a bit". Then there is an untitled work of 1943 by NS Bendre estimated at £4,000-6,000 . MF Husain fans know his works of the 1950s and 1960s have been his hallmark. Among a large number of Husains in the auction, a few are sterling works of the older period. "Taj" is an emblematic work that harks back to the past. "Makbara Mumtaz Mahal" is a simple pencil, pen and ink on paper, which is estimated at £20,000-30,000. Another fetching Husain is "Blue Girl", a work of 1963 done in the old veiled mystic style and is estimated at £60,000-80,000. From Husain's music series is a work called "Miya Malhar" estimated at £50,000-70,000. During the 1960s, Husain painted a series of works related to classical Indian music and dance. His "Ragamala" series is seen as one of his most iconic artistic statements, incorporating many of the artist's most recognisable themes and symbols. Then, there is an untitled work of Husain from his "Lady with the Lamp" series estimated at £50,000-70,000.
A number of FN Souza's works in the auction also speak about the demand for him. Among the landscapes, there is "Amsterdam Landscape" replete with architectonic features and cubic factors that are ultimately lyrical. There's an unrestrained enthusiasm, a liberty in the application of colour that is swiftly applied with a palette knife, creating smooth pulsating textures. This work is estimated at £60,000-80,000. Souza's untitled nude is estimated at a hefty £100,000-150,000 while his chromatic rendition of "The Chance" is estimated at £150,000-200,000. A host of Akbar Padamsees are also included in this auction but it is "Metascape" that is his best. It is estimated at £60,000-80,000. Tyeb Mehta's "Trussed Bull" is estimated at £150,000-250,000 and is truly a work that will create history. A few Razas in the auction too have a lot of promise. "Earth" is estimated at 150,000-200,000 but the beauty is "Tejas", a work that is soft, ethereal and dulcet in its tone and estimated at £50,000-70,000. Last month, at Sotheby's New York auction Mehta's work went for $1.2 million while a Raza soared to a scorching $1.4 million and toppled estimates. Ram Kumar's landscape is a sombre-hued stroked entity estimated at £30,000-40,000. And, J Swaminathan's brilliant evocation from his bird, mountain and tree series - estimated at £120,000-180,000 is the crowning glory of the auction.
Article Courtesy: HINDUSTAN TIMES.
NEW DELHI: A daylong painting exhibition showcasing works of a virtual who's who of the art world organised jointly by Chawla Art Gallery and External Affairs Spouses' Association (EASA) opens at Hotel Maurya Sheraton here this Thursday. Representing an eclectic mix of works by senior artists, upcoming young talent and also international ones, the show includes paintings by over 80 artists including Manu Parekh, Paramjit Singh, Paresh Maity, Paritosh Sen, Satish Gupta, Anjolie Ela Menon, Jatin Das and Nupur Kundu. The EASA artists in the show include Alka Mathur, Aparna Swarup, Kalpana Chowdhury and Kusum Shukla, while the international artists include A.Q. Arif, Ahmed Khan, Doug Patterson, Faruukh Shahab and Loreto Enriquez. According to EASA president Anita Saran, "it is indeed a privilege to be presenting so many renowned Indian and international artists. We are proud to be associated with the show because it is being held in support of women's and children's causes." A welfare organisation, EASA comprises the spouses of serving and retired gazetted officers of the Indian Foreign Service. As cultural and humanitarian works are important facets of this organisation, members are engaged in a number of charity and fund-raising events. Chawla Art Gallery promoter Shibani Chawla said: "Every art lover will find something for his taste at this exhibition. Very seldom would you find works by so many accomplished artists under one roof."
Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.
[April 27, 2006] Indo Asian News Service
London: Sotheby's is preparing for a special Indian art sale here May 23, with some vintage works promising to make this auction head-turning. Other than contemporary Indian art, there is an impressive bust by Jacob Epstein of Rabindranath Tagore that is estimated at 10,000-15,000 pounds. Conceived in 1926 and cast in an edition of 16, the work on sale is the second of the series with a slightly wider shoulder base than others. Another rare work is a delectable soft hued wash by A.R. Chugtai estimated at 15,000-20,000 pounds. The subject of this painting relates to a short poem by Mirza Ghalib: It is no seeing eye which cannot see the ocean in a drop/The whole in a bit/It is child's play then/For a child cannot see the ocean in a drop/The whole in a bit. Then there is an untitled work of 1943 by N.S. Bendre estimated at 4,000-6,000 pounds. All M.F. Husain lovers know his works of the 1950s and 1960s have been his hallmark. Among a large number of Husains in the auction, a few are sterling works of the older period. 'Taj' is an emblematic work that harks back to the past. 'Makbara Mumtaz Mahal' is a simple pencil, pen and ink on paper, which is estimated at 20,000-30,000 pounds. Another fetching Husain is 'Blue Girl', a work of 1963 done in the old veiled mystic style and is estimated at 60,000-80,000 pounds. From Husain's music series is a work called 'Miya Malhar' estimated at 50,000-70,000 pounds.
During the 1960s, Husain painted a series of works related to classical Indian music and dance. His 'Ragamala' series is seen as one of his most iconic artistic statements, incorporating many of the artist's most recognisable themes and symbols. Then, there is an untitled work of Husain from his 'Lady with the Lamp' series estimated at 50,000-70,000. A number of F.N. Souza's works in the auction also speak about the demand for him. Among the landscapes, there is 'Amsterdam Landscape' replete with architectonic features and cubic factors that are ultimately lyrical. There's an unrestrained enthusiasm, a liberty in the application of colour that is swiftly applied with a palette knife, creating smooth pulsating textures. This work is estimated at 60,000-80,000 pounds. Souza's untitled nude is estimated at a hefty 100,000-150,000 while his chromatic rendition of 'The Chance' is estimated at 150,000-200,000 pounds. A host of Akbar Padamsees are also included in this auction but it is 'Metascape' that is his best. It is estimated at 60,000-80,000 pounds. Tyeb Mehta's 'Trussed Bull' is estimated at 150,000-250,000 pounds and is truly a work that will create history. A few Razas in the auction too have a lot of promise. 'Earth' is estimated at 150,000-200,000 but the beauty is 'Tejas', a work that is soft, ethereal and dulcet in its tone and estimated at 50,000-70,000 pounds. Last month, at Sotheby's New York auction Mehta's work went for $1.2 million while a Raza soared to a scorching $1.4 million and toppled estimates. Ram Kumar's landscape is a sombre-hued stroked entity estimated at 30,000-40,000 pounds. And, J. Swaminathan's brilliant evocation from his bird, mountain and tree series - estimated at 120,000-180,000 pounds - is the crowning glory of the auction.
Article Courtesy: DAILY INDIA
[April 25, 2006 21:26 IST] Sanghita Singh for DNA INDIA.
NEW DELHI: Fresh from their show at Armani Casa in Milan, on invitation from fashion czar Giorgio Armani himself, Delhi-based artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra are on a high. The twenty somethings are among the few Indian artists who have carved a niche abroad even before their names have become familiar in India. Says 26-year-old Sumir, “It is a great time for Indian art, but to make that extra impression you have to have an edge and I guess we’ve been lucky. Participating in local exhibitions got us the exposure we wanted. So, we got a good break when it came to making an international foray.” Having participated at the Salon del mobile art and décor show curated by The Wallpaper magazine in Milan, they are getting ready for the Christies’ auction next month in Hong Kong. “Two of our works have been selected. But at this stage we are not looking at money. We started off with art as an experiment and it’s worked out really well for us,” adds 28-year-old Jiten, who also works as a creative head for O&M. Working primarily on oil on canvas, the two artists paint what is termed as ‘popular art’ and interestingly, both work on the same canvas as opposed to separate ones. Explains Sumir, “I guess we understand each other really well and that compliments our work. There are times when we have a difference of opinion, but that works to our advantage. This way we critique our own work.” Blurb: Having participated at the Salon del mobile art and décor show curated in Milan, they are getting ready for the Christies’ auction next month in Hong Kong.
Article Courtesy: DNA INDIA.
[April 26, 2006] SOUMITRA DAS for THE TELEGRAPH.
Four new faces present their New Works at the CIMA Gallery exhibition beginning Wednesday evening. They represent the new generation of artists coming to the fore in West Bengal. Three of them use traditional skills and crafts enriched by their training abroad to express themselves, while the fourth employs the devices of popular art. All four of them have something in common — at some point of time, they were all trained at Santiniketan, although their modes of expression are divergent. To begin with the most senior of them — Shreyasi Chatterjee — who teaches art at Rabindra Bharati University. Her inspiration being domesticity and her interest lying in the traditional craft of stitching, she has created a series of works using textiles, thread and sometimes spangles and beads that hark back to the embroidered pieces of cloth, often with adages, that used to be proudly displayed in Bengali homes half a century ago. Chatterjee, however, distorts and exaggerates certain elements in these, carefully folding the material whereby each acquires an identity of its own along with its overlay of memories. As an extension of her interest, she has collaged the detailed lay-out of a home, which is reflected in the “designer” costume on display. Chatterjee has also done a series of fine drawings where everyday objects turn into delicate webs of filament, as it were, like the woof and weft of life.
Both Kingshuk Sarkar and Rashmi Bagchi Sarkar were trained in calligraphy and Sumi painting in Japan and both use the technique of iwa-enogu employing stone pigment, animal glue and cotton stretched on panel, and often gold, creating a smooth surface which sparkles when the light catches the stone particles. In Rashmi’s intricately detailed works she creates strong images of femininity that she equates with nature’s regenerative powers. She sits in a field where a mango tree is in fruit, while the saplings thrust their heads out of the seeds. In a beautiful work, tumbleweed floats around the fast-disappearing red soil of Santiniketan. Kingshuk produces compositions that are eye-catching when he uses brilliant colours and either an exaggerated body part or a collage of images where a wide range of images are placed next to each other. There are “quotes” from Indian miniatures as in the painting of the man with a gun. Application of colour itself can be a point of interest in Kingshuk’s work. The colony of ants has a rich backdrop of viridian and red paint trickling down the surface like a stream of colours. His image of the thumb sticking out attracts immediate attention if only for its monumentality. However, the crocodile shedding tears looks cluttered. At one time, Sumitro Basak used to create well-crafted, innovative and witty pop-up images that used to be quite delightful. For this artist, the youngest of this group, papiers collés was another mode of expression. Sumitro creates the same effect here albeit on a much larger scale with very pretty colours — often a bit too pretty — forms and their shadows. Where his tones are strong they stand in stark contrasts. Sumitro’s work has become slick and smooth as silk, losing something on the way.
Picture 01: (From left) Sumitro Basak, Shreyasi Chatterjee, Kingshuk Sarkar and Reshmi Bagchi Sarkar, an exhibition of whose works opens at CIMA Gallery on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Datta.
Article Courtesy: THE TELEGRAPH.
[April 24, 2006] Lenny Ann Low for THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD.
Size isn't everything according to famous installation artist Anish Kapoor.
Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor has a succinct way of explaining himself in this melodic and ethereal documentary. "I am not interested in size," he says in his elegant accent and splattered pink jumper. "What does it matter, big or small?" He's gone with big in this chapter of his life as one of the world's most famous installation artists. Kapoor's work Melancholia is an enormous structure that begins as a circle at one end and ends in a square at the other. Made from translucent polyester material, it seems to hover above the wooden floor at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Grand-Hornu, Belgium. This "film" as its creator, Laurent Stine defines it, follows the work from its origins in Kapoor's expansive London studio to its development by an architect and construction by a team of craftsmen inside the gallery. A delicately sparse soundtrack, and a well-balanced amount of talk from Kapoor and the gallery team, allow Melancholia's creation to be the focal point.
Date: Tuesday April 25
Time: 10:00 PM
Article Courtesy: THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD.
[April 24, 2006] DAILY INDIA - Indo Asian News Service.
Kolkata: As Tina Ambani watched in amazement the portrait of a perky and sensuous Bollywood actress called Tina Munim of the 1980s, she was overcome with a sense of déjà vu. Hounded by a battery of flashbulbs and TV cameras, she stood for some moments near her own portrait by Kolkata-based painter Wasim Kapoor in which Tina the heroine was frozen in time and said, 'It is beautiful. I liked mine.' Art connoisseur Tina Ambani Sunday night inaugurated at the Taj Bengal hotel the exhibition 'Shades of Time', which put on display 64 portraits of enchanting Bollywood beauties painted by Kapoor in the past one and a half years. 'I am really pleased to see some of my colleagues from Bengal like Suchitra Sen, Supriya Devi and Aparna Sen in these frames,' said Ambani, who has been organising the Harmony Art show in Mumbai for the last 11 years. From Devika Rani to Meena Kumari, Nutan and Madhubala in black and white to Rakhee and Rekha to a bejewelled Aishwarya Rai in 'Devdas', Kapoor has painted all of them with perfection, infusing life into the portraits. But why would a painter of repute paint the more commercial faces of film heroines? 'Why not? Few Indian women want to be Indira Gandhi. But millions want to be a Bollywood heroine. You cannot ignore their following and popularity in our lives. They are much more respected than corrupt politicians,' said Kapoor. Pradeep Rawat, an industrialist and a painter himself, has bought all the paintings of the series and these are now available on the website www.raasinnovations.com. Rawat, the promoter of the exhibition, said, 'Kapoor is a friend for the past so many years. I always liked his works and am glad to host this series.' Rawat is all set to launch his art gallery titled Raas in Kolkata within the next six months and will also launch an online auction of paintings in India.
Copyright Indo-Asian News Service
Article Courtesy: DAILY INDIA.
[April 23, 2006] NEVILLE TULI for THE TIMES OF INDIA.
Despite the current euphoria, India struggles to emerge as a true superpower. A key reason is the nation's developmental vision lacks originality from within. India has underutilised and virtually destroyed its artistic and cultural heritage, a fact that is still not known to most. Art is still seen as being about aesthetics with no market institutions to determine appropriate values. Art has four key dimensions — aesthetic, historical, financial and developmental — which function within a legal context. India has traditionally appreciated the aesthetic, grudgingly incorporated the historical, and today is beginning to grasp the financial. In the long run, only the historical significance of art work and the artist determines financial value. When aesthetic, historical and financial dimensions work in tandem, developmental responsibility gets activated. The underlying legal context can critically support or hinder this progress, by creating or destroying organised markets. Lack of knowledge, legal ambiguity, smuggling, double standards and corruption have led to decades of neglect. Yet, we remain unaware of the disease. However, in the past 10 years the world has come to know what 100 years of Indian contemporary art can begin to achieve as a market. That is barely the tip of the iceberg. From merely a Rs 5 crore turnover in 1997 — mostly rooted in the black economy, with little public or institutional interest in fine arts, scant respect for publishing, archiving or preserving arts, minor international purchasing, negligible linkages with the social, economic and political framework of India and little media coverage — there has since been a huge transformation.
We have today built a financially strong market in excess of Rs 1,000 crore capable of generating domestic and international excitement and respect, creating the first stages of financial institutional involvement, and opening new related services devoted to exhibition, publishing, design, archiving, preservation and museology. The lucrative realms of insurance, credit and wealth management beckon. Finance seemingly dominates aesthetic appreciation, but that is a transition to be put up with if we wish our people to rediscover their heritage with a new love and respect. However, parallel to this boom is the death of the legitimate domestic antiquities market. It is this domestic non-existence which has led to smuggling over the past 30 years. Why is the domestic antiquities market non-existent compared to its importance, scale, potential and value? More importantly, what has been the role of legal ambiguity in the Art Treasures & Antiquities Act, which has virtually destroyed the domestic antiquities market? Ironically, despite good intentions, the legal framework has been chiefly respon-sible for pushing the bulk of India's movable cultural artefacts underground. Today, we have the odd situation where any recent contemporary oil painting by a relatively famous signature sells for more than 10 times the price of the finest Rajput miniatures, Gandhara and Gupta sculptures, 18th century Madurai wood carvings, 14th century Tibetan thangkas, Nathdwara Pichwais or Jain-painted scrolls of Palitana. The list is endless, and the point is not that contemporary art is overpriced but that the rest of India's heritage is undervalued, playing a minor role in the contemporary development of our civilisation. The Antiquities Act has suppressed the home antiquities market, forcing the collector and public to retreat. Further, most members of the bureaucracy and the Archaeological Survey of India are burdened with an insurmountable task of preserving our heritage with totally inadequate resources.
The need is for immense private sector participation to develop markets, and public-private partnerships to recreate cultural infrastructure. These changes can only succeed if legal re-examination has a clear developmental vision for the arts. The definition (including dating) of an antiquity, processes of registration, licensing and trading and issues of artefact mobility within India all require radical legislative re-examination. We all agree on preventing export of our significant heritage, but that can only be successful if a vibrant and transparent domestic market exists. There is no justification to create legal impediments for a free domestic market. Every impediment only leads to strengthening the black economy, smuggling, lack of professionalism and continuing ignorance regarding our heritage. If India is truly to emerge as a world inspiration it must become a centre of learning and research. For that to happen the best of the arts must be systematically collected and shared in a manner which creates financial self-sufficiency. We are daily witnessing the decay of the world's greatest architectural and artistic heritage. No heritage can ever be protected by laws alone: The role of public participation is pivotal and to this end economics is the most effective catalyst. Saraswati and Lakshmi can coexist, but only if the arts take on a clear developmental role.
The writer is founder chairman of Osian's, an auction house and arts institution.
Article courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA
[April 22, 2006] MICHAEL PATRAO for SUNDAY HERALD.
The Harmony Art show, with yesterday’s star and today’s society woman Tina Amabani as patron, has become a major event in the art calendar and has emerged as India’s largest private contemporary art show. The 11th Harmony Art show held in Mumbai from April 1 to 9 at the Nehru Centre, Worli, featured over 280 works of art by 159 artists. According to Tina Ambani, “The Harmony Art Show is much more than just an exhibition. It is a brand, one that has built creative equity by consistently bringing enthusiasm and vitality of young talent to a centre stage shared with senior artists’ precision and insight of experienced hands and artistic minds. About 40 per cent of the paintings are by emerging artists.” Being a pan-India contemporary art show, works of both renowned and lesser known artists from across the country were displayed. The North was represented by 39 artists from Delhi, including Satish Gujral, Jayasri Burman, Paresh Maity, Neeraj Goswami, Shankho Chaudhuri and Vijendar Sharma. The West was represented by 21 artistes from Gujarat such as Haku Shah, Dhananjay Kumar, Ganesh Gohain, Rini Dhamal and Maharashtra was represented by 51 artists, including Akbar Padamsee, Atul Dodiya, Gopal Adivrekar, Ratnadeep Adivrekar, Jaideep Mehrotra, Jehangir Jani, Milbum Cherian, Ravi Mandlik, Samir Mondal and Sunil Padwal. From the East, a total of 20 artists participated from West Bengal with 14 from Kolkata. Some of the well-known names displaying their work were Aditya Basak, Ajay De, Asit Kumar Sarkar and Prof Dhiraj Chowdhury. However, the whole of South India was represented by only 12 artists, including Achutan Kudallur (Chennai), Babu Xavier (Kerala), Jayakumar G (Bangalore) and Surya Prakash (Hyderabad).
“This year I have directed the show myself. Curating is a very serious word to be used for myself. This is more of a team work with help from the art faculty and academics. Compared to the last 10 years, I would call this the largest show,” said Tina Ambani. The jury members included Jahangir Sabavala, Saryu Doshi, Dilip De, Harsh Goenka, Malavika Singh and Parameshwar Godrej. The sheer variety of materials used by the artists, apart from the usual acrylic and oil on canvas to express their creativity was astounding: gouache on handmade paper, tempera on rice paper, ceramic, stoneware glazed, glass, charcoal on paper, water colour, metal, bronze, sculpture, etching, stone, wood, digital print, paper collage, copper and black acrylic sheet, bronze with patina and colour wood, digital collages on metallic tone and aluminium. Rekha Rao’s Thirsty crow used rangoli powder, Bird an abstract sculpture by Sankho Chaudhuri used stainless steel. Anamika’s has an abstract sculpture in glazed stoneware titled, In a broad eve with one eye of cloud. Anuj Kumar Poddar’s Head was an abstract sculpture in glass, while Apurba Nandi’s abstract installation, The other side, was in stone, metal and glass, and Pandya Mahendra’s abstract metal sculpture was in aluminium. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Harmony show has provided a platform to the children of Aseema, an NGO dedicated to the rehabilitation and education of street children. Art and designer products made by them were also on display and sale at the show. “I went to several NGOs before choosing Aseema. I chose them because I believe they are most deserving,” said Tina. In addition to the 155 Indian artists, four international artists also displayed their works - Angeli Sowani from UK, Maya Burman, Sakti Burman and Delteil Maite from Paris.
Artist in focus
The ‘Artist in focus’ this year was Jogen Chowdhury with 17 works on exhibition. “Mumbai has never seen so many of his works together at one place,” Tina remarked. A globally renowned artists, Chowdhury honed his signature style after his return from France in the late 60s. His expertise lies in contouring sinuous lines with ink, water colour and pastel, to creative paintings that are provocative expressions of men and women in enigmatic situations with a hint of inspiration from the “theatre of the absurd.” Currently, Jogen Chowdhury lives and works in Shantiniketan. A new section at this year’s show was ‘Art in the family’, conceived as a tribute to the many celebrated families such as the Parekhs, the Choyals, the Adiverkars and the Burmans, who have through successive generations dedicated themselves whole-heartedly to the cause of art. The tradition of conferring two annual awards, which was started in 1998, continued this year. The Rs 1 lakh Harmony Excellence Award for the emerging artist of the year for a painter below 35 years went to Abhik Shah of Baroda for his painting Kargil. Sculptor Tapas Biswas of Kolkata was selected for a similar award, with an identical purse, for a field other than painting. Says Tina Ambani, “Our future steps include setting up a foundation to promote art through direct support to emerging artists, academic activities and international exchanges and collaborations. It is designed to position Indian art as a significant player at the global level.”
Article Courtesy: DECCAN HERALD
[April 21, 2006] UMA NAIR for HINDUSTAN TIMES
Last year at its May auction Saffronart swung sales of Rs 16 crore, translating to $3.7m. This equalled the record touched by Christie's for Indian contemporary art at its March 2005 sale. Given that 145 lots of works were put up for bids, the average per lot auction price achieved by Saffronart turned out to be $26,000, which outstripped the pre-sale average of $12,000 by miles. Significantly, the entire spread of 145 lots had been lapped up by bidders. Tyeb Mehta's "Kali" struck the highest price of Rs 1 crore at the auction, which has been pegged at $236,500.In December at the Winter auction, eleven paintings sold for over a crore each four Souzas, two Padamsees and two Razas, a Tyeb Mehta, a Husain and a Ram Kumar, of which Souza went for Rs 6.5 crore becoming the second to Tyeb's "Mahishasura" that holds the world record for Rs 6.9 crore.
After gathering record crowds at global auctions, and valuations and volumes that have soared to levels that have forced major buyers to pay more attention to the Indian market Saffronart's May auction holds great promise with a domination of 15 Souzas,14 Razas and 13 Husains. "The Saffronart Summer online auction of modern Indian art works will take place from May 10 - 11, 2006", says Director Dinesh Vazirani who has taken the auction world by storm with impressive prices that have given Christies and Sotheby's ample avenues for the competitive edge within India's domestic market". "The May auction of leading senior figures in the contemporary art mart features 150 works by 41 artists of Indian modern art", says Vazirani. "Only 12 auctions old with the 13th looming up, Saffronart has set new bench marks even for its young artists fielded with gusto last March". "The structure of the auction and its time span allows serious collectors as well as first-time buyers, worldwide, to place their bids over a period of two days, as opposed to a period of a few hours in a live auction'", says Vazirani who is in London for the preview. The success of our auctions is also its transparency and the professionalism with which we approach the whole event", he adds. Imagine an extremely distinctive Bendre of an understated image of a young maiden resting her head against a jhali balustrade. Signed and dated in Devnagari done in 1981 this is an oil on canvas that is estimated at $58,150 - 69,800/Rs 2,500,000 - 3,000,000. Another rare work is a still life by Hebbar, an unsual oil on canvas Signed in English estimated at $41,900 - 46,550/Rs 1,800,000 - 2,000,000,this is another work to look out for. Million master Tyeb Mehta's "Situation" is a differential composition that actually sets you thinking about his early years. Signed and dated in English in the year,1963 this oil on board is estimated at a humble $581,400 - 697,700/Rs 25,000,000 - 30,000,000. The show however is dominated by 13 Husains,14 Razas and 15 Souzas. Among the 13 works by Husain the auction has an emblematic tenored Husain from his music series of the 80's with the singer in a blue fringed white sari and a tanpura.
The epitome of feminity and grace , Signed in English Circa 1980's this is an oil on canvas and estimated at $232,600 - 290,700/Rs 10,000,000 - 12,500,000. The show stopper in the Husain series is Husain's Untitled image of a Brahmin from Tendulker's Ghasiram Kotwal series, a work that captures the spirit and ethos of street drama which has fascinated Husain for more than 6 decades. This work straddles the versatile nature of Husain's abstracted expressionist idiom with his play of subtle imagery in the hint of the female form fragmented by a limb, signed and dated in English,belonging to 1996 this oil on canvas is estimated at a luxurious $209,300 - 232,600 (Rs 9,000,000 - 10,000,000). The magic of Husain lay in his early works and a stupendous work from 1961 Signed and dated in English, positions a tensile image of a couple done in his atypically longitudinal style, giving hints of cubist leanings, with a contrasting tenor of subtle and contextual tonality which places this work in a historic and graphic mode. The oil on canvas is estimated at $140,000 - 180,000/Rs 6,020,000 - 7,740,000. Last year an untitled by SH Raza, measuring four by four feet, went for Rs 57 lakh. This is the highest price ever for a Raza paperwork", says Vazirani. This year 14 works up for the auction by abstract master Raza are all like little gems of purest ray serene- his "Village" Signed in English Circa 1960's an oil on board estimated at $80,000 - 90,000/Rs 3,440,000 - 3,870,000. The most precious and powerful in an equally lofty and high range of pricing is Raza's La Terre a work of 1984 is estimated at a hefty $225,000 - 275,000/Rs 9,675,000 - 11,825, 000. Another rare addition of Raza is a beauteous and bountifully composed landscape Flora Fountain in Monsoon of 1945, this is a gouache and watercolor on paper pasted on board which is estimated at $30,000 - 35,000/Rs 1,290,000 - 1,505, 000. Then there is his other jewel in Saffronart's crown,it is Contre Jour,signed and dated in English 1962,an oil on canvas estimated at $100,000 - 150,000/Rs 4,300,000 - 6,450,000. Among the 15 Souza's which consist of drawings as well as a few oils,other than the handsome work on the cover, Souza's gem is a landscape in moody vermillion Signed and dated in English (upper left)1962.An oil on board estimated at $170,000 - 225,000/Rs 7,310,000 - 9,675,000, it sure will set the paddles of the bidders rising.
Souza's most integral work in the auction is his cover coveted Landscape in Orange signed and dated 1961,an erudite oil on canvas-it is estimated at $250,000 - 300,000/Rs 10,750,000 - 12,900,000. Progressive artist Ram Kumar's recent landscape Untitled 2002 an oil on canvas is somber hued work estimated at $93,050 - 116,300 (Rs 4,000,000 - 5,000,000). Other than that there is Padamsee's nude an Untitled,2001 work which is an oil on canvas estimated at $75,000 - 85,000 (Rs 3,225,000 - 3,655,000). A rare single is J Swaminthan's Untitled circa 1970's oil on canvas estimated at $174,500 - 197,700/ Rs 7,500,000 - 8,500,000. From the Bengal school the essence of disproportion revels in Jogen Chowdhury's "Situation X" initialled and dated in Bengali belonging to 1995 is an oil on canvas estimated at $81,400 - 93,050/Rs 3,500,000 - 4,000,000. From the capital city of Delhi there is Rameshwar Broota's early work that embraces a mercurial grey sooty entendre entitled Reconstruction is signed and dated 1977 this is an oil on canvas estimated at $80,000 - 90,000/Rs 3,440,000 - 3,870,000. Among the works which stood out on the price front last year were FN Souza's "Remark" which was picked up for Rs 66 lakh, Raza's "Prakriti" which sold at Rs 56 lakh, an untitled Hussain that fetched Rs 40 lakh and another Hussain from his Paris Suite series which sold for Rs 47 lakh. Last year the Saffronart May sale saw 175 bidders spread acrossIndia, the US, the UK, UAE, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan and France. While 26% of them were non-Indians, there were 34% NRIs and 40% Indians. "Today, with the reach of the Internet, coupled with saffronart's lower buyer's premium at 10 per cent compared with 20 per cent of other auction houses, saffronart managed to draw nearly 140 bidders in the month of May last year when an average auction on Indian art didn't draw more than 60 bidders. India has become a global presence", says Vazirani. This year the records for premium works that belong to early periods will reflect Saffronart's networking capabilities and powers of persuausion. For the moment Saffronart is enjoying the global buoyancy that Indian art is enjoying. And collectors from across the globe are setting the registers ringing.
Picture 01: Tyeb Mehta's "Situation"
Picture 02: MF Husain's The epitome of feminity and grace, Signed in English Circa 1980's.
Picture 03: Souza's Flora Fountain in Monsoon
Article Courtesy: HINDUSTAN TIMES
[April 21, 2006] ASHOKE NAG for TIMES NEWS NETWORK.
KOLKATA: It’s probably time to take stock again of the factors underlying the dominance of modern and contemporary art in the auction scene. For one, the popularity of this genre stems from the fact that this art form is also predominant in the West. Thus, it is also affecting Indian art and artists. Indian art which is appearing at the auctions is highly internationalised. “While Bengal School art was strongly rooted in Indianness, many of the other artists weaved a Western flavour in their paintings. And, this has grown even more with the arrival of the younger generation contemporary artists. Western elements have been absorbed so effectively by Indian artists that works of some of the senior and younger lot reflect paintings in the West. The Western modern art market being the most developed definitely acts as a reference point,” an art market source told ET. After all, the history of the Indian modern art development is not as stretched out and influential as in the West, he added. One of the prime reasons for NRIs and non-Indian collectors taking continuous interest in Indian art pieces is because of the Western facets that they display. According to the source, quite a few of the modern artists, especially the Progressive group, also worked around the same time as their counterparts in the West. At the same time, the later generation Indian artists are also producing paintings in step with modern-day US and European painters and are often exhibiting at top-notch fairs and shows abroad. This is seeing features of the West creeping into their art. Contemporary artists of the West are trying out newer styles and forms which is percolating to painters in the East where India is now assuming a leading role. “On the buying side, many of the NRIs, who are a major part of the art collecting population, are products of the West and echo the mindset of their American, British or European colleagues. Therefore, their art preferences also converge. This explains their concentrated focus on modernist paintings,” the source said. The rise of modern art actually began once auctions revived after the dip around the year 2000. Though critics in the West are still to recommend Indian art in a big way, Indian contemporary art is present in Western homes, both for its artistic and investment value. “With its pronounced success, auctioneers are also actively projecting and marketing this brand of paintings,” the source said.
Article Courtesy: THE ECONOMIC TIMES
[April 21, 2006] JAMAL MECKLAI for BUSINESS STANDARD.
NEW DELHI: The good news, if it can be called that, about the recent wild and (to many) incomprehensible run-up in art prices, is that it has—finally—drawn attention to the woefully inadequate art infrastructure in the country. Anyone who reads the trite and popular press, which by now includes ALL our major media players, has heard of Tyeb, Raza, and Souza—Husain, of course, has long been an independent icon. However, few people have actually seen paintings by them, and fewer still have seen high-quality reproductions in art magazines or books. Thus, in the country at large, there is very little understanding—or, more importantly, “feel” —of what these painters are about. In other words, almost nobody knows the value of Indian contemporary art, while everybody knows the price. A classic situation created by runaway markets, aided and abetted by the explosive growth of the Indian economy and an evolving group of right-place-at-the-right-time hucksters. So, where does it go from here?
Well, first off, to do a little huckstering myself, I have learned that while two living Indian contemporary artists—Tyeb and Raza—regularly (?) sell for more than a million dollars; there are only 30 or 35 global living artists who regularly break this limit. Thus, 6 per cent of the uppermost echelon (price-wise) of global contemporary art is Indian—by an interesting coincidence, this is more or less the same ratio of Indian companies (33) in the Fortune 500. Thus, using this single—and, admittedly, arcane—metric, the Indian art market and the Indian equity market are about at par at the top end. (The second price tier artists, by the way, are not as populated with Indian names as the second tier of businesses; thus, for you punters out there, there’s still an opportunity at the 100-200,000 dollar level.) The more important issue, of course, is whether these prices are high in absolute terms and whether they reflect genuine—i.e. sustainable—value. Well, first off, value in art—I would, indeed, say in life—is totally subjective. I remember many years ago seeing a painting in New York by the then-celebrated Jeff Koons, which had an uncanny resemblance—in terms of how it affected me—to a painting I own by a local artist called Abbas Batliwala. To me, they were near identical in value, but the Koons was over 100 times higher in price. To somebody else, there would doubtless have been a different equation. Thus, I believe there is no objective measure of value. The closest I can get to finding an objective measure of value is time. If something—a work of art, or otherwise—remains in favour for decades or, better yet, centuries, it becomes a classic, with enduring value. Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, the Ramayan—these are all unarguably classics. In contemporary art, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol would be slightly less unarguably classics. And, classics, of course, command what could be considered insanely high prices; I believe the highest price ever paid for an Andy Warhol was 17.5 million dollars—that’s nearly Rs 80 crore, more than 10 times the Indian record.
Now, how are these prices sustained? Who pays such huge sums of money for a painting? Well, first of all, there are many very wealthy people in the world who simply love a work or love the idea of owning the highest priced Warhol in the world or both. But, more importantly, much of the action at these ridiculously sublime levels of price is the result of institutional buying. Museums—public and private—are the key to underpinning the art market, and it is the distribution-side of museum activity—through which hundreds of thousands of non-wealthy citizens get access to and familiarity with “great” art—which ultimately enables an otherwise simply highly-priced painting to become a classic, to have enduring value. And this is the great lacuna in the sudden explosion of interest in Indian contemporary art. There has been—at least thus far—virtually no institutional development, which is a necessary condition to not only sustain commercial value, but also to build upon the latent (and, in some circles, already triggered) aesthetic sensibility in the country. The good news, as I said before, is that more and more people are talking about it. And things will really start to happen when the lucky (or smart or terrified) owners of highly-priced art understand that the only way Raza or Tyeb or Husain that they bought years ago is going to climb from a million dollars towards the 10- or 20-million level is if individual demand is supported by institutional buying. In other words, people who own potential classic paintings, who love the work they own, and who have been pushed out of the buying market by the huge price rise, should—indeed, will—invest in building institutions to develop the skills and sensitivities of hundreds of thousands—no, this is India, millions—of budding art aficionados. The circumstances of India’s explosive growth have opened the doors. It is now up to us to build on it. Let a hundred—oh, OK, let’s start with a dozen—museums (and art schools and art appreciation classes and books and lectures on aesthetics) bloom.
Article Courtesy: BUSINESS STANDARD
[April 20, 2006] SOUMITRA DAS for THE TELEGRAPH.
The small exhibition at Gandhara Art Gallery on the theme of animals presents some intriguing works by artists from Calcutta, as well as Delhi and Hyderabad. Animals abound in the arts and crafts of our country and in our narrative tradition too. From the Jataka tales and the mounts of deities to the giant crow in a recent classic, the presence of animals has enriched our literature. Anthropomorphism is a vital ingredient of Indian art, its myths and legends and literature but in the better works on exhibition, animals are not just non-humans. They are also the stuff that fantasies are made of.Aditya Basak’s strange hybrid sits motionless like the sphinx under a halo or a belljar as dragonflies flit around it. In the other Basak mixed media, the same creature is on its feet, holding a fish in its mouth. It is a delicately painted work, arresting in its quaintness. Delhi-based Amitava Das in his gouache creates a personalised zodiac sign shaped like an elephant that could also be interpreted as a blob of black paint that has no reference to any living form. The accompanying piece is actually a glob of colour with lugubrious eyes popping out it.Man’s best friend performs a trick as his master — a little brat — directs him. Paritosh Sen’s acrylic on canvas is a diptych where the black-and-white side is superbly balanced with the colour.Partha Pratim Deb’s icon of a canine form with four pairs of udders is done with a cheeky sense of humour, a quality that is rare among artists of our country.Jogen Chowdhury has successfully adapted folk and traditional techniques to express his ideas on contemporary life. Here he uses dry pastel to draw toys that used to be sold at every mela. So steady is his hand that he must have drawn each bird at a single go and got it right, too.The dog as god reappears in Ashok Bhowmik’s painting of what seems to be an adaptation of the image of an Egyptian deity. In another painting, a clockwork fish with large soulful eyes of a human being floats past a shoal.Manjit Bawa’s lion springs across the canvas in a blaze of colours applied to give the impression of satin. Sekhar Roy presents a mahout with his mount. Last but not least, K. Laxma Goud returns with his randy goats in a beautiful etching.
Article Courtesy: THE TELEGRAPH
[April 20, 2006] Bindu Shajan Perappadan for THE HINDU.
NEW DELHI: A unique exhibition of around 50 oeuvres d'art by Mussoorie-based American artist Joe Demetro is now on at the Visual Arts Gallery of India Habitat Centre here. Titled "Monomyth", the exhibition has on display 25 paintings and a mix of 15 clay sculptures and 10 sketchbook size drawings. Speaking about his choice of the title Demetro says: "It's a word that the cultural anthropologist Joseph Campbell used to describe the parallels and similarities in the ways that myth, legend, folklore, spirituality and ritual developed and functioned throughout history's civilisations and societies. I find comparable links to how similar forces dictate and propagate history's visual art styles and principles as well. I have used them as a way to inform my decisions regarding the art work." This exhibition will enable Indian art audiences to benefit from a different perspective in terms of tradition and modernity. "The Indian experience will naturally involve seeing contemporary technology co-exist with ancient models," says Demetro. The artist has been living and working in Mussoorie for nearly five years and has participated in several group shows in Delhi including Delhi Blue Pottery's "Peace and Harmony" exhibition as well as "Singular Identities", both at India Habitat Centre. Trained in the United States originally in sculpture and then in painting, his work is an attempt to formally reconcile a multitude of visual characters stemming from work of disparate sources. The exhibition ends on Thursday.
Article Courtesy : THE HINDU.
[April 20, 2006] MADHUR TANKHA for THE HINDU.
NEW DELHI: Indian and Pakistani artists may have chartered their own separate course but they share a common heritage and culture. Nitanjali Art Gallery in association with Deutsche Bank is now bringing together top artists from either side of the border in a show titled "Euphonic Palettes: Contemporary Art from Indian and Pakistan" that opens at Galerie Romain Rolland here on April 29. The art show will display the myriad nuances of Indian contemporary art and works from several periods and art genres of Pakistan. Besides works by renowned Indian artists like Amiya Bhattacharya, Anjolie Ela Menon, Paritosh Sen, Shruti Gupta Chandra, Vrindavan Solanki and Satish Gupta, those of accomplished Pakistani artists like Ahmed Khan, Ali Azmat, Arif Khan, Asad Faruki and Raja Changez Sultan will also be on display. Delhi-based art historian Elizabeth Rogers says: "Euphonic Palettes honours the vision of a group of Indian and Pakistani artists, each with their individual talent and modes of expression. This has been an enriching and enjoyable undertaking and a voyage that is actually just beginning. Particularly because till date much of the energy in the art worlds of these two neighbouring nations have often been in flux and isolated and are now rapidly expanding." Commenting on the diversity of the show, Pakistani curator Marjorie Husain says: "Raja Changez Sultan explores the Himalayas in light filled landscapes. Saeed Akhtar is the country's leading portrait exponent, while Jamil Naqsh is unparalleled for his portrayal of the nude." Najmi Sura began as a painter of traditional miniatures, and since the 1970s has worked to reassess the historic art. National Award winner R.M. Naseem is one of the most gifted younger artists. Wahab Jaffer expresses his viewpoint through exploding colours and androgynous, inscrutable beings. Sadaf Naeem, Arif Khan and Asad Faruqi are dynamic representatives of a generation rapidly making their presence felt upon the scene, adds Ms. Husain. Nitin Bhalla of Nitanjali Art Gallery says: "The art show explores and recognises our initial mission to bring together a spectrum of well-known Indian and Pakistani artists together. This synergetic show promoting the cross-cultural exchange is a result of our frequent visits to Pakistan."
The exhibition is on up to May 2.
Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.
[April 19, 2006] The HINDU
New York: A stolen 9th century stone idol with carvings of all the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu began its journey back home to be reinstalled in the Varaha temple in Mandsour, Madhya Pradesh, from where it was stolen six years ago. Indian Consul-General Neelam Deo and Special Agent in charge of investigation at the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Martin D. Ficke signed the papers at a brief ceremony on Monday, formally handing it over to India. This was one of the two idols stolen. The search for the other is still on. Despite its tortuous journey to New York, the 127 cm tall and 71 cm wide idol is in good condition with only a mark at the back from where it might have been chipped off at the Mandsour temple. The recovery was described by Indian and United States officials as the ``fruitful'' result of coordinated investigations in India and the U.S. ``The Government and the people of India greatly appreciate this gesture of goodwill from the government and people of the United States,'' Ms. Deo said. ``When someone steals a cultural artefact from a country, that country loses a part of its identity and its heritage. Today, we are able to return the Varaha idol to the government and people of India and restore a part of its cultural heritage that had been stolen from her,'' Mr. Ficke commented as he signed the papers.
Senior Special Agent James McAndrew, who investigated the case, said the probe led the investigators to Namkha Dorjee, owner of the Bodh Citta Gallery, who was operating from his apartment in New York. Once agents closed in, he voluntarily handed them the statue. Mr. McAndrew said that it was particularly difficult to investigate undocumented artefacts and a great deal depended on the way the theft is investigated in the home country. No arrest had yet been made in the U.S. as the crime could not be pinned on any individual. The statue was originally destined for Switzerland but was diverted to Britain and papers were altered somewhere along the journey. The person who was responsible for sending it from Britain to the U.S. was reportedly killed in Afghanistan some time ago. He was apparently trying to smuggle out that country's heritage, American investigators said. It was only in 2003 that ICE received information from the Indian police and Interpol that the statue was in the United States which ultimately led to its recovery. The principal subject of the sandstone idol is Vishnu in his third incarnation as a boar and it shows the killing of Hiranya demon and the liberation of the earth. On the left elbow, earth is depicted as a feminine figure. Around the idol are the other incarnations of Vishnu. In Varaha incarnation, Vishnu is said to have rescued the earth from being drowned by Hiranyaksha. Varaha, using his boar attributes, saved the earth from being drowned in the cosmic sea. — PTI
Pictute Details: IDOL INTACT: Martin D. Ficke, special agent, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, returns an ancient idol stolen from an Indian temple, to the Indian Government through Neelam Deo, Consul-General of India, in New York recently. — Photo: PTI
Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.
[18 April 2006] NEWS SCRIPT - BRITISH SATELLITE NEWS.
A new art gallery has opened in London showcasing the work of artists from the Chennai area of Southern India. Some of the pieces are traditionally decorative; others almost Picasso-like in their abstract style.
A new art gallery has opened in London to showcase the work of artists from the Chennai area of Southern India.
The Noble Sage art gallery in Fortis Green is the first to focus exclusively on Indian art. The brand new gallery will provide a revolutionary channel for people to see high quality painting and sculpture from south Asia. The show is the culmination of a year’s research into the exciting talent found in the Chennai area of south India.
SOT (English speech) super: Jana Manuelpillai, Director
“It consists of 17 artists from Chennai - formerly Madras in south India - and it has a whole variety in the show – artists who are very traditional some who are very kind of older school of artists and very representational and we’ve others who are much more abstract and breaking different boundaries visually and we’ve got others who are very decorative and kind of go along the lines of decorative in India which has been going on for centuries so we’ve got a whole variety in the show which is very good.”
The show has been put together in a former garage in a fashionable part of north London, but its roots lie in more modest circumstances.
SOT (English speech) super: Jana Manuelpillai, Director
“I needed something that had some integrity and wisdom and also needed something had a higher meaning and so I put the noble and sage together and came up with the noble sage and then I realised that it seemed very familiar and a slight inversion of the noble savage, so that’s how people recognise it – they feel they already know it so it’s working on people’s psyches I like to think.”
So what’s on display here? What’s special about these artists and these works? Mr Manuelpillai says there are influences of some contemporary western art movements…other paintings show distinct cubist or impressionist flavours.
SOT (English speech) super: Jana Manuelpillai, Director
“Another artist that’s in the show that’s very traditional is Senathipathi with some black and white and colour and he has a Picasso-esque style and those oblong faces and simplification and kind of interesting tribal imagery and folkloric imagery kind of resonates Picasso and Modigliani which I think is a very pretty and it works in the show actually.”
The exhibition runs until July 1 and should provide a worthy London showcase for south India’s artistic talent.
[April 18, 2006] Indo Asian News Service for DAILY INDIA.
Singapore: The highest taking at the 'Larasati - Pictures of Asia' fine art auction here was for a stunning image of 'Mother Teresa' by renowned Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain. Estimated at US $184,050-214,725, the work ultimately pulled in Singapore $322,600 and was the showstopper for the day. Over 70 percent of the 131 lots offered found buyers at the auction held at the Marriott Hotel Singapore. The auction saw active bidding with a packed attendance of around 300 people. Husain's son Owais' work 'The Sharpshooter's Past Catches Up' estimated at US $16,564-19,632 went down for Sing $30,420. Rini Dhumal's 'Durga' went for a paltry Sing $11,700 while Ara's 'Gate', a work from 1950 estimated at US $16,565 -19,632 went for Sing $32,760. In a strange development, the works of Bose Krishnamachari, Jogen Chowdhury, Iranna and Yusuf Arakkal did not feature in the final list of lots sold. Reports suggest the lots were withdrawn because the bids were woefully below the estimates. That clearly shows some Indian artists draw better prices at home than abroad. 'Collectors are very selective these days and we had a very serious crowd. They bid very intensely for top-notch lots and young promising artists. With the addition of contemporary Indian art that was taking the stage for the first time ever in Singapore, we now have a very good cross section of Asian modern and contemporary collection,' said Daniel Komala, president director, Larasati Auctioneers, told IANS. Ever since Larasati's first auction, which was held on April 30, 2000, in Jakarta, Larasati's reputation has grown rapidly, auctioning rare and emerging Indonesian as well as other Asian works at record prices. Larasati's entry into Singapore in 2003 as the first Asian-based auction house that crossed national borders was indeed a milestone in its pursuit to becoming a major player in the Asian market. With Larasati's boutique collection featuring fine works by master artists from Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines, Larasati has made a conscious effort to feature significant works of art, treating them as a kind of museum art. 'We at Larasati would like our auctions not to become merely a matter of buying and selling art objects, but also to enhance the appreciation and development of art in Asia,' Komala said.
Article Courtesy: DAILY INDIA.
[April 17, 2006] Statesman News Service for THE STATESMAN.
KOLKATA: A fake-art market has emerged in various parts of India over the years and a racket to fake the works of eminent painters has been in operation for some time now. The strange revelation has caused artists and painters to demand “penal measures” against racketeers indulging in faking the works of eminent painters. The criminals are circulating fake paintings in a large number of cities in the country. The Habiart Foundation, which has been working for years to save artworks from being faked, has demanded laws to penalise the offenders. A racket was busted on 1 March in New Delhi when a person tried to auction a fake artwork, ascribing it to Bikash Bhattacherjee, the eminent Kolkata artist. That it was not genuine was noticed by another renowned painter, Sanjoy Bhattacherjee, who was present while it was being auctioned. Later, Mrs Probhati Bhattacherjee, wife of Bikash Bhattacherjee, lodged an FIR with the Delhi police. Mrs Rekha Modi, founder trustee of Habiart Foundation, told The Statesman: “It was pointed out that faking art has been a regular practice by auction houses. Earlier, paintings of Jogen Chowdhury were withdrawn after an objection was raised by an artist. Several auction houses have sold many counterfeit works attributed to Ram Kinker Baij, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy and others. The crimes need to be probed. We (art critics and artists) held a discussion on this recently, demanding that an autonomous body representing all sections of the art community and the government should be constituted. It has been proposed that the matter should be handled by the Arts Council of India,” she said. At a recent meeting in Kolkata, art critics and artists from across the country opined that the racket had to be busted and proper action taken against those involved in it. The organisation has already held several discussion in various parts of India on art-related crimes. A national~level meeting was held on 11 May, 2004. To prevent art-related crimes from spreading, the foundation has demanded that a national code of conduct be drawn up. “We have also demanded that an autonomous Indian Arts Commission be constituted by the Centre to oversee the development of it, with powers to deal with the current problems. Mrs Modi said: “It was felt that the creation of an Indian Arts Commission as an autonomous body with regulatory and vigilance powers may be the answer to the problem. The commission, as a representative body of artists, art critics and citizens, should be powered to impound and destroy fakes and impose severe penalties on individuals and organisations involved in this trade,” she said.
Article Courtesy: THE STATESMAN.
[APRIL 18, 2006 01:44:45 AM] ASHOKE NAG for TIMES NEWS NETWORK.
KOLKATA: Is Bengal School art on the revival track at international auctions? At recent auctions, the price swing by Jamini Roy and DP Roychowdhury at Bonhams and Sotheby’s in London and New York seems to be pointing towards a turnaround by this genre of art. Art analysts feel that high quality Bengal School paintings with sound provenance could fetch healthy tags at future auctions of Indian contemporary art overseas. “The Jamini Roys which were offered were sourced from seasoned overseas collectors and enjoyed impeccable provenance. The prices were probably also an indication that buyers were drawn to art, reflecting a typically indigenous flavour. It was also a proof that Bengal School art, which is not generally represented in a big way at auctions, can score high numbers if quality pieces with strong provenance go under the hammer,” an art market source told ET. “A top bracket Rabindranath Tagore, which came to the auctions some years back, got a good price,” it said. Other Bengal School artists, who could be having tidy prices in store for buyers are Ram Kinkar Baij, the Tagores — Rabindranath, Abanindranath and Gaganendranath — Nandalal Bose, Hemen Mazumdar and Atul Bose. Of course, in earlier auctions, the paintings by both Rabindranath and Hemen Mazumdar have struck tall bids. In step with paintings, the auctions have also somehow not seen top-notch sculptures by Ram Kinkar Baij, DP Roychowdury and Somnath Hore.It just happens, the source said, that not too many extraordinary pieces of Bengal School works have surfaced at the auctions in the past few years. Also, there is no extensive literature covering Bengal School art. This lack of information leaves buyers a little unaware of this art form. “One of the prime reasons for the large availability of Jamini Roys is because the painter produced a huge output of works. These were bought by foreigners in a concerted manner during the war years. Thus, there is a substantial spread of paintings circulating in the West. Most of the other Bengal School artists have not turned out paintings in such numbers. Besides, their National Art Treasure status has restricted the outflow of works into Western markets,” Prakash Kejariwal, art connoisseur, said. The gradual integration of the Indian art scenario with Western markets will find Indian classical art upstaging modern art off and on. This is what happens in the West too. The recent prices achieved by Amrita Sher Gil and Raja Ravi Verma clearly proves this phenomenon, Mr Kejariwal said.
Article Courtesy: ECONOMIC TIMES.