Friday, July 28, 2006

WORK 86 - Critics' Corner.

Name: Seema Rao
Title: Beautiful 2005
Medium: Video Installation & Mixed Media, (Duration 7' 48")
ID:- Seema1

Galerie 88 & Project 88 .

EXHIBIT 43 - Serigraphs by Jogen Chowdhury

Name: Jogen Chowdhury
Title: Serigraph Couple
Medium: Serigraph print
Size: 46 cm x 64 cm


Thursday, July 27, 2006

ARTICLE 542 - Art Konsult celebrates the "enigma of hues" at India Habitat Centre

[Jul 25, 2006] Madhur Tankha for THE HINDU.

Collective endeavour of artists Mohan Singh and Vijender Sharma.

NEW DELHI: A group of contemporary Indian artists is showcasing it's works in "colours" at Visual Arts Gallery of India Habitat Centre here. Titled "Enigma of Hues", the six-day exhibition hosted by Art Konsult is a collective endeavour of artists Mohan Singh and Vijender Sharma, who founded the Arts India Movement. Mohan Singh, who teaches painting at the College of Art here, says his two paintings reflect the lifestyle of Generation X. "In one painting, I have depicted a girl draped in a funky dress walking down a street, while a passer-by is leering at her. Earlier, if men teased girls they were beaten up but now such things have become a part and parcel of daily life," adds Mr. Singh. The other artists whose works are being displayed at the exhibition include Gogi Saroj Pal, Dharmendra Rathore, Dhiraj Choudhury, Anupam Sud and Vijender Sharma. Gogi Saroj Pal, who works in different mediums like installation, graphic print and sculpture, uses colours to express her visual symbols, while Dharmendra Rathore grew up in an aura of colours and his paintings are all rooted in this essence. He has participated in several exhibitions in the country and abroad. Born in Bengal, Dhiraj Choudhury uses images of man and woman, mother and child, besides flowers, animals, birds and butterflies. Anupam Sud, an alumnus of the College of Art, is a recipient of several national and international awards and her subjects are often introspective and fatalistic. Art Konsult's art curator Bhavna Kakar says the underlying theme of the exhibition is colours, which are mysterious, beautiful, charming and tantalising. "Colours reflects perception, define emotions, generate feelings and give essence to a wide plethora of other manifestations. This is the reason why we are celebrating colours this monsoon. Even the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Indians believed in healing with colours," adds Ms. Kakar.

The exhibition ends on Tuesday.

Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ARTICLE 541 - A requiem for art?

[July 25, 2006] Kishore Singh for BUSINESS STANDARD.

AUCTION: The fall of the gavel at the Rs 17 crore Osian's auction failed to thrill collectors, but opened up a new direction in film memorabilia.

Consider these facts:

• For those familiar with art in India, the July 20 auction in the capital by Osian’s was probably its weakest collection ever to be shown — and auctioned.

• At a time when every auction has been making waves for record prices commanded by works of art, the Osian’s sale was a lacklustre event, and even the bidding lacked energy. Only some months back, Indian art circles were agog at the price a work by Amrita Sher-gil had fetched — an astonishing Rs 6.5 crore. Therefore, when on Thursday a collector picked up a work (okay, a small work) for Rs 1.2 crore, for many it was not dissimilar to the Sensex crash.

Was the market correcting itself? After all, there were going to be limited opportunities to bid for a Sher-gil — so why wasn’t there active jostling for the painting? Nor was that the only jolt. Other masters sold without a flurry of bids, for amounts less than what punters had bet on — Tyeb Mehta Rs 3 crore, V S Gaitonde Rs 2.4 crore, M F Husain Rs 1.3 crore, and two Ramkumars for Rs 42 lakh and Rs 60 lakh (all prices are gavel or bid prices). Several works were returned unsold to the house, and a large number of artists — not “unknowns”, but not part of the popular auction circuit either, commanded less than arresting prices. To be fair, this wasn’t part of Osian’s “Masterpieces” series, and as part of the ABC (or Art, Book & Cinema) series, popular works — books, cinema memorabilia — “were attempting to piggyback on the appeal of contemporary art”, according to Osian’s chairman Neville Tuli. Tuli’s argument — valid to an extent — was to make available works by artists who are not so well known, and gain them recognition. “It was a conscious decision to include artists people were not buying,” he said. “I am not concerned about what is saleable today because in 3-5 years the market will have changed and collectors will be kicking themselves for not having bought a Hemanta Mishra for Rs 4 lakh!”

A frisson of excitement ran through the bidders and onlookers when the Chittaprosad (‘Lovers’) series came up for auction, rivalled, possibly, only by the more frenzied bidding for posters and other “printed” materials including a set of 25 stills from the film, Mughal-e-Azam (Claire de Boer outbid gallerist-dealer Ashish Anand at Rs 10 lakh). “India doesn’t have a history of collectors of film memorabilia,” said Tuli, “but I can guarantee you that a year-and-a-half from now, if the same collection comes up for auction, it will fetch over Rs 1 crore from the market.” Clearly, then, to the question whether Indian art prices are plateauing, Tuli says they’re consolidating (but also says the skew where a Rabindranath Tagore sells for Rs 10 lakh while a Jagannath Panda fetches Rs 25 lakh needs to be corrected), while the market for popular culture is just opening up, and books could be the next big opportunity. But the final word might well have to wait till September when “Rs 200 crore of Indian art” will jostle for buyers at auctions by Osian’s, Saffronart, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonham’s. Whether any more “world records for Indian art” will be made then will depend on whether collectors who seem to have taken a breather in the dizzy market turn competitive again. “After all,” says Tuli, “there are only a handful of collectors who will pay over Rs 1 crore for a painting.”

Article Courtesy: BUSINESS STANDARD.

Friday, July 21, 2006

ARTICLE 540 - Tyeb Mehta’s painting fetches Rs.30 mn

[July 21st, 2006] INDIA E NEWS

New Delhi - ‘Falling Figure’, a 1968 oil painting by celebrated Indian artist Tyeb Mehta went down the hammer for Rs.30 million ($643,000/Rs3 crores) at the Osian’s ABC Series of Auctions here. Mehta, Vasudev Gaitonde, M.F. Husain and Amrita Shergill were the four contemporary artists whose works sold for more than Rs.10 million at the auction Thursday night here. The other painter, whose works generated an equal amount of attention at the auction Thursday night, was Mumbai-based abstractionist V.S. Gaitonde whose work was picked for Rs.24 million. M.F. Hussain’s untitled creation fetched him Rs.13 million whereas Amrita Shergill’s ‘Red Hut’ got the organisers Rs.12 million. Satish Gujral’s ‘Couple 1′ went for a terribly disappointing low of Rs.2.6 million. Looking at auction trends experts, who are collectors, as well as gallery people said that at first the Indian diaspora drove demand, but now growing wealth in India itself is fuelling the market. ‘But a lot of buyers are now getting more discerning,’ said a young Indian banker who has set his sights on Indian art but wished to remain anonymous. ‘In the mid-1990s, most buyers were scions of India’s industrial dynasties, who favoured the realistic, conservative artists of the Bengal School,’ he said, adding ‘today the Bengal School was terribly low, no momentum at all, even Jogen Choudhury was so low, and some works withdrawn because of the low estimate that found no takers.’ The auction saw a large attendance of art lovers and buyers - not just from India but from abroad. A family had specially flown in from Dubai to take part in the auction. On being queried about comparisons with Christie’s auction, Osian founder and chairman Neville Tuli said: ‘Christie’s is 200 years old. Osian is just five. The process has just started and it’s going forward. The Indian art and culture is moving forward and that is more important.’Indian art has seen a steady price rise in the past few years following masterworks by the likes of Mehta, Hussain and Gaitonde getting noticed at international auctions.

Copyright © Reproduction of news articles or any other content in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of India eNews is prohibited.

Article Courtesy: INDIA E NEWS.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

ARTICLE 539 - Art attack

[20 Jul, 2006 19:26hrs IST] SHINE DIGHE for TIMES NEWS NETWORK.

Forget blue-chip stocks. Get ready to invest in India's hottest trading market art as financial institutions and art galleries float art funds.

For art lovers today, buying art is no longer only about fuelling their passion but also about tapping new investment opportunities. The prices of paintings that have risen three-fold across the board over the last few years, are fast making them a viable alternative to bluechip stocks. The trend is also abetted by the perception involved: investing in art is seen as a more prestigious and creative endeavour than stock trading. "Unlike earlier, people are buying art not just for pleasure but also for the money they see in it,"says Dadiba Pundole, of Pundole Gallery, Delhi. Also, the Indian art market is growing at an astounding rate of 35 per cent annually, creating an upbeat atmosphere. And cashing in on this upswing are banks and financial institutions that have created art investment funds. Osian's Connoisseurs of Art, Mumbai, started an art fund called Oseta Investments Trustee with galleries or salerooms in Mumbai and Delhi. The fund managed by Osian Auction House, assures a growth of 15 per cent and takes a 30 per cent cut of profits, after a pre-decided investment period. Copal Art, Delhi, is also planning to launch 'art investment schemes' for individuals and corporates. "Through these schemes, people can invest in paintings of their choice. They can avail our recommendations based on their budget, preference and target,"says managing director of Copal, Ajay Seth.

India's first art fund, Yatra, is a four-year closeended fund floated by venture capitalist Pravin Gandhi, Sanjay Kumar of Synergy Art Foundation and Geeta Mehra of Sakshi Gallery. It promises investors a 20 per cent compounded annual increase in the price of their paintings. According to Gandhi, the fund has attracted Rs 10 crore from 50 investors so far. "We mainly buy, hold, trade and conduct auctions,"he informs. The art scene is also attracting financial institutions like Kotak, ING Vysa, Citibank and ICICI Bank. Closer home, Prshant Lahoti of Kalakriti Gallery is toying with the idea of launching an art fund. Highlighting why art funds have captured the attention of investors, Prshant says, "A lot of people are starting to feel that they are losing out on the big action in the art world. Art funds give them an opportunity to get a piece of the pie." He further explains that there are two types of art funds out there. The first is open for anybody to invest in art over a period of three or five years with expected returns ranging between 25 and 50 per cent. And the second fund can be created privately by a group of friends agreeing to invest together.

How art funds work

Art fund operators raise money required to buy artworks of various proven and promising artists. The artwork invested in, is deposited either in the gallery of the art fund or a third party like a bank. After a fixed period, the artwork is sold at auction houses across the world. The returns from the auction are then shared between the art fund and investors, according to pre-decided conditions.

Are art funds safe?

Currently, there are no laws or regulations governing the operations of art investment schemes in India. If you are an investor, find out about the fund's background, and invest only in reputed funds and artists. "If you invest in artworks of reputed artists, then there is not much that can go wrong. So one is not being speculative there,"informs Neville Tuli.

Why buy through fund?

It is difficult for a lay investor to have perfect knowledge of artists, and to keep tab of spiralling figures. Investing through a fund, offers the investor greater expertise than direct investment in art. Knowledge about the market becomes all the more necessary for people buying art directly from galleries. The advantage to investors, according to Ajay Seth, is that they do not have to pay gallery commissions.

Article Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ARTICLE 538 - Art display to mark French National Day

[Jul 19, 2006] Staff Reporter for THE HINDU.

CREATIVE EXPRESSION: (From left) Artist Thota Tharani discusses a point with Michel Seguy, Consul General of France in Pondicherry, at a painting exhibition in Madras University on Saturday. University Registrar Anne Mary Fernandez and Vice-Chancello r S.P. Thyagarajan are also seen. — Photo: S. R. Raghunathan

CHENNAI: An exhibition of paintings by artist Thota Tharani has been put up by Alliance Francaise and Madras University's French department to mark the French National Day. The university's Senate Hall, where the display was on till Monday, was lit with mellow, yellow lights.

Splash of colour

Titled `Symphony, Harmony and Liberty', the paintings are awash with colour contrasting with stark white and mono-coloured bands. The display includes a painting of a woman in black and white done in 12 hours before the inauguration of the exhibition. Michel Seguy, Consul General of France in Pondicherry, and Madras University Vice-Chancellor S.P. Thyagarajan opened the display to the public. With more French universities offering studies in English medium, Indian students can take up higher studies in France, said Mr. Seguy. He welcomed collaborations between Indian and French universities. Mr. Thyagarajan said that the art display was one of the university's many initiatives to encourage students to develop an interest in a subject of their choice. The varsity's choice-based credit system would facilitate this process, he noted.

The exhibition is on at Alliance Francaise, College Road, from July 17 to 21 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

ARTICLE 537 - Art Camp In Powai By Women Artists For A Charitable Cause

[July 16, 2006]

The Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) and the Young FICCI Ladies Organization brought together over 25 women artists from the Indian sub-continent for an ART CAMP at the Renaissance Centre, Mumbai from 7th - 13th July 2006. During the camp, participants created two works of approximate size 3'x3' and 2'x2' on the theme of women from the Mahabharata in order to raise funds for the Kishori project and Total Management of Cancer Patients . These paintings will be included in an art exhibition, "Colours of Life" being organised by Cancer Patients Aid Association at the Cymroza Art Gallery from 24th-31st July. The larger work will be auctioned during a fashion show to raise funds. The studio of the ‘art camp’ overlooked the placid Powai lake. Twenty-seven women from India and abroad gathered here in a rare spirit with a mission of ‘healing brushstrokes’ while their canvases took on one hue after another. “Through the proceeds raised from the auction of the artists' work we hope to inject color into the lives of cancer patients and rehabilitation of women at Dharavi. The idea was to bring together women artists from different nationalities especially from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (as these countries have faced some manner of discord or other) and to give them a platform to mingle and share their talents,” said Shubha Maudgal, director, new projects, CPAA.

While the designated theme was ‘Women from the Mahabharata’, the artists were free to come up with their own women-centric ideas. It becomes evident that most of their works deals with social milieu, relationships, gender, landscapes and tribal figures – from the rural poor to the princely. For a painting depicting Draupadi's vastraharan (incidentally, the common choice of subject), you are slightly puzzled to see three women on one of the canvases. “But they’re all Draupadi!” opines Sri Lankan artist Nadine David, who prefers not to bring men into focus. There was also a fair amount of experimentation at the art camp. Naima Haque, the head of Graphic Art, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, said, “This art camp has really helped us learn from our fellow artists. For instance, Gogi Saroj Pal (Delhi-based artist) uses a roller to paint the base of her canvas. I tried that for the first time in my painting.” Jenny Bhatt, a Mumbai-based artist tries to weave colour therapy into her works. And she has two versions of the blindfolded ‘Gandhari’ (mother of the Kauravas) to show the dichotomy in her nature. Her dark side is represented in blue shades of acrylic, and a separate painting in yellow represents her lighter side. Fatima Ahmed, an elderly artist from Pune, depicts ‘Shakti’ as a solid figure-an image in red. Pampa Pawar from Kolkata has a butterfly spread across the canvas in myriad shades to depict the colors of spring. The women were dexterous with their colors – and their canvases look quite distinct from each other. Even their depictions of ‘Draupadi’ are varied – from an ultra-feminist to a doomed character, from one of strength to one of vulnerability, from distorted figures to abstract images. Some canvases are prosaic, some are crowded, and some lyrical. It sure invokes women power using canvas to signify their soothing ethos and create works of art for a noble cause.

Article Courtesy: Planet Powani.

ARTICLE 536 - Indian art market plots its own highs

[July 16, 2006 at 0000 hours IST] SUNEET CHOPRA for FINANCIAL EXPRESS.

It is evident from the general figures of art sales that over the last two years, with the emergence of consortia and big buyer cabals, our contemporary art prices have received a shot in the arm. It is rather like the bull run in the market, but the difference this time is that where in the past our art market boomed when the share market slumped, and slumped when the share market boomed, now it has gained a momentum of its own. To understand why this has happened we must realise that our art market is not only reflecting the ups and downs of speculative investment, but it also reflects the growing perception that this art is, in fact, worth much more than the price it sells for presently. This growing understanding, primarily among Indians and NRIs, of the intrinsic worth of our art has resulted in the rise in price of our contemporary art in auctions and exhibitions around the world. The sharp rise in the price of canvases is repeating itself in the rising prices of sculpture, watercolours, drawings, prints and even photographs. The contemporary Indian artists’ expertise, vision and aesthetics determine the continuing rise in price of the work. This is the basis of it becoming something to invest in as well. By now investors are familiar with artists like MF Husain, FN Souza, Tyeb Mehta, SH Raza and Akbar Padamsee, to name only a few of the Mumbai Group artists who make up the bluest of blue chip investment, there are others in the Rs 5- 10 lakh range who ought to be in the reckoning as well. It would be worth looking at who they are, from prices they sold for as late as the Saffronart online auction of mid-May 2006.

This segment is worth looking at to determine some of the up and coming new names of tomorrow. I am not including the results of sales of artists like Krishen Khanna, Ganesh Pyne, Meera Mukherjee, Anjolie Ela Menon, Satish Gujral, Shakti Burman, KK Hebbar and Laxman Sreshta who are in the blue chip range and above the 10-lakh mark. Among those on the borderline there’s Laxma Goud (lot 121) with a sale price of Rs 9.96 lakh, Badri Narayan(lot 139) at Rs 9.48 lakh, Rajendra Dhawan (lot 141) at Rs 9.55 lakh, Paramjit Singh (lot 21) at Rs 9.59 lakh, Shyamal Dutta Ray (lot 94) at Rs 8.56 lakh, KH Ara (lot 101) at Rs 7.19 lakh, B Vithal (lot 115) at Rs 7.33 lakh, Prabhakar Barwe (lot 44) at Rs 7.89 lakh, Manu Parekh (lot 73) at Rs 7.44 lakh, Lalu Prasad Shaw (lot 144) at Rs 8.98 lakh, KM Adimoolam (lot 71) at Rs 7.33 lakh and Dharma Narayan Das Gupta (lot 147) at Rs 5.32 lakh. This range includes the figurative and non-figurative artists. The former category comprises artists who are folk-derivative and those who are academic; landscape paint-ers, and sculptor B Vithal, and even an old member of the Mumbai group, KH Ara. Being underpriced, our contemporary art is seeing its value being recognised and we have a general rise in price of such works over a wide range and of many artists all over the world.

Article Courtesy: FINANCIAL EXPRESS.

Monday, July 10, 2006

EXHIBIT 42 - Mithu Sen - It's Good to be Queen

Name: Mithu Sen
Title: Untitled
Medium: Mixed media on paper
Size:11 x 15 in.

Name: Mithu Sen
Title: Untitled

Name: Mithu Sen
Title: Untitled
Medium: Mixed media on Paper

Name: Mithu Sen
Title: Untitled
Medium: Mixed media on Paper
Size: 42 x 84 in.

Name: Mithu Sen
Title: Untitled
Medium: Mixed media on paper

Mithu Sen
It's Good to be Queen
Artist Space @ W 25th Street
Jun 2 - Jul 28, 2006


WORK 85 - Critics' Corner.

Name: F. N. Souza
Title: Untitled
Medium: Chemical on Paper
Size: 11" x 8"

Galerie 88 & Project 88.

WORK 84 - Critics' Corner.

Name: Debanjan Roy
Title: Bal Gopal with Coke & Huggies
Medium: Painted Fiber Glass & Body Mould
Size: 48" x 36" x 30"
Item Code : DR 003

Aakriti Art Gallery.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

ARTICLE 535 - Monsoon magic

[July 09, 2006] SHALEENA KORUTH for THE HINDU.

George Oommen paints to reawaken the feeling the image brought when he first saw it. Once the feeling returns, the painting is over.

His works are impressionistic in their fidelity to colour and light.

Sensory and tactile: "Kerala Altered Reflections"

KERALA'S oldest memory — the monsoon — is also George Oommen's. In his landscapes, the rain falls in all colours. The insane wetness, glistening mornings, and rivers, now stunned, now set in motion, but always receiving Kerala's quintessential light — this is the stuff of Oommen's art. As unprecedented prices and ongoing media attention award Indian contemporary art a place to reckon with in the international scene, Oommen is a visual ambassador for Kerala, with his "extravagantly charged vitality reminiscent of the sensual worlds of Henri Matisse", according to Dominique Nahas, critic for "Art in America". His most recent exhibitions, held in September and October 2005 were in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sensory awakening

Looking at one of Oommen's pieces, one is aware of a sensory awakening. In "Kerala Altered Reflections" (2002, acrylic on canvas) hoary thickets of rain-deluged palms intensify at the canvas's centre; the monsoon weaves both sky and land into a luminous wash that drizzles tropical yellows, blues and greens into murky, many-layered water. The suggestion of torrential rain places you feet first in the squelching palm grove. This tactile dimension of Oommen's landscapes is most striking. Most of the inspiration for Oommen's landscapes comes from Mankotta, a secluded resort in Haripad that he visits regularly in the winters. Not given to much emotional display, Oommen lit up as he discussed his plans for the future: a visit in summer to pursue the harvest's radiant yellows. "Kerala", a painting by British artist Sir Howard Hodgkin, has haunted and challenged Oommen since he first saw it in New York in the early 1990s. It uses a shade of yellow that Oommen calls `spectacular'. Oommen refuses to identify with an artistic movement or even define his style, which is largely abstract. His works are expressionistic in their nostalgia for Kerala and a heightened spiritual awareness; they are impressionistic in their fidelity to colour and light as it might appear on a rippling sari or river. The difference does not matter, because he paints to reawaken the feeling the image brought when he first saw it. Once the feeling returns, the painting, or series, is over. At Mankotta, Oommen immerses himself in the visual and physical details of Kerala. Often waking as early as 4.00 a.m., Oommen records the unfolding of a typical day with photographs, sketches and his mind's eye. The backwaters are quietest and most still at dawn; these are the moments Oommen draws upon. He paints though only in Boston, painting only if his remembrance justifies creation. "If it (the feeling) is lost, it's not worth painting", he says. As if the lush nostalgia on his canvases is not testament enough to his affection for Kerala, Oommen's recollections — even his earliest — are. With unmistakable fondness, he recounts learning to draw Malayalam letters in the sand at the village school in Mepral, his hometown. A favourite of Oommen's pieces is a three-panelled landscape "Mankotta Reflections" (2000, 12 ft x 6 ft, acrylic on canvas). Unlike most of his work, which uses bright, vibrant hues, this is a muted construction of whites, creams, blacks and browns with smatterings of gold. Oommen's intention here was to capture a moment in the water when its reflections were flowing away with it. It started out as an experiment in detail, but was executed on a large scale.

Oommen in his workspace with "Mankotta Reflections" in the background.

Oommen's "Kanjeevaram" series, he says, are more universal in appeal, especially in the West. When asked where he finds saris to inspire him, he smiled and showed a scrapbook of sari advertisements he has collected! Here, Oommen is experimenting in colour, texture and technique. "I'm letting it go... I'm learning what colours on top of what colours produce what kind of effect... I'm learning, but there's a very definitive framework. It's a border, it's a sari, it's got to be silk-like."

Formative years

Oommen's years at the Delhi School of Architecture were artistically formative. His aunt, a painter, introduced Oommen to the works of Jamini Roy and Nandalal Bose from Shanti Niketan. Elizabeth Gauba, teacher and founder of Shiv Niketan, a well-known school in Delhi, introduced him to contemporary Western art. Satish Gujral's yellows, inspired by the colours of Mexico, caught Oommen's eye and was instrumental in his choice of San Miguel Allende, his future art school. Oommen's studio in Arlington, a Boston suburb, is a converted garage that opens out into a wild overgrown yard. A wooden stand doubles as an easel and can be adjusted to hold different sized canvases. A narrow gutter runs through the floor of the studio on one side to catch the drips that Oommen's sprays create. He uses a variety of spray guns with different nozzles to spray colour, turpentine or water on his paintings, depending on whether the medium is oil or water-based. The result is Oommen's signature drip effect. Paintings hang on all walls, and among them was "Sacred Places 1"(1997, Oil on canvas), a composition in green and yellow with an absorbing, meditative quality.

Sacred Places 1.

In the early 1970s, Oommen saw a series of films by Louise Malle titled "Phantom India". One featured a young girl in a Hindu temple, performing with an intensity that deeply impressed Oommen. Later visiting a temple, he was struck by the architecture of its inner sanctum. Oommen, who was raised a Christian, found that unlike the floodlit altars in churches, the temple is entered from a larger, well-lit space to a much smaller, dark space where the only source of light is the gleaming idol. "You're in a space where you completely lose your peripheral vision and you can hear your heartbeat." This inspired Oommen to create "Sacred Places Within You", paintings where he literally excavates a bright, saturated spot of colour from a surrounding darkness. A "Sacred Places" painting collapses the viewer's sense of space, chipping away at it till there is nothing but canvas and the discussion of colour and light within. It demands quiet contemplation before granting an understated grace. After creating more than 60 pieces, Oommen now owns only four or five that he will not part with. It is among his most successful and resonant series. According to Dr. John Bowles, a contemporary art historian from UCLA, "Oommen is creating something that's a precious, devotional object. There is a lushness ... the brushstrokes are active, but not hectic." As he showed me around, I asked Oommen if he intends to stay with his favourite theme, Mankotta. No, he replied. Always restless, he wants to grow and keep learning. But surely, the Kerala of Oommen's memory can earn no rebuff in his plans for paintings to come, for the past must certainly be the hinge the future swings upon.

Article Courtesy: THE HINDU.

ARTICLE 534 - Contemporary art prices keep soaring

[July 09, 2006 at 0000 hours IST] SUNEET CHOPRA for FINANCIAL EXPRESS.

The coming season is the time to buy works of art as the plateau will not be reached by the end of 2007

It is regrettable as art becomes more expensive, gallery owners become more secretive about their pickings. Of course, income tax returns may have something to do with it. Then there is the question of having pursued doubtful artists whose work does not sell; so that is covered up by saying, “We sold out”, or “We sold almost all”. Then there are the monopolists who keep their cards close to their chests and inspire a sudden rise in the price of certain artists at sales and auctions. This naturally makes analysis difficult. That is why I have chosen to study the bulk sale figures of Indian art over five years of auctions at Osian to give us an idea of the general behaviour of the market from which the reader ought to be able to get an idea of what the price of a work bought within the last five years ought to be today. A sale of August 2001 involving 140 lots, of which 71 sold, totalled Rs 1.12 crore the sales were 48% of the total number of works, the average for each lot working out to Rs 1.58 lakh approximately. The next sale we look at is that of August 2002. The sale totalled Rs 82 lakh and 94 of the 150 lots sold, working out to a per lot average of Rs 87,630 approximately. In November 2003, the total takings were Rs 1.55 crore of 243 lots sold, with an average price working out to Rs 1. 45 crore per lot. So, we can see that up to the end of 2003, the market in general remained steady but good individual works moved ahead undeterred. This is especially true for the Mumbai group artists like Tyeb Mehta, FN Souza, MF Husain, SH Raza and Akbar Padamsee.

In October 2004, with consortia coming into the market, we find the pickings were Rs 7.3 crore for 100 lots out of 125. The average works out to Rs 7. 3 lakh per lot approximately. This is an extremely sharp jump. But when we look at the figures for December 2005, the taking were Rs 17.6 crore for 101 lots of a total of 119, working out to no less than Rs 17 lakh per lot. In March 2006, the total sales worked out to Rs 41.7 crore for mere 89 lots, working out to Rs 46.8 lakh per lot. What do we conclude from this? First, that Indian contemporary art is coming into its own. It was badly under priced before, but now it is more or less achieving its value. This means that after the end of the year, one could expect to see prices even out. This is nothing to fear as this is a general trend, but blue-chip art will continue to get ahead as it has done before. Good young artists also are likely to do better, especially as our contemporary art market still has plenty of outlets to project new talent. Even average art should expect to see a 100% to 200% rise in price each year, depending on the quality of the work. As regards the consortia and monopolists, while they may be playing fast and loose with the prices of individual artists they have began to hoard, in general, they appear to be playing by the rules. So the situation is secure enough for the buyer at the moment at least. The coming season is the time to buy as the plateau will not be reached by the end of next year. But success always depends on whose work you choose to buy and what it is in terms of quality despite the general trend.

Article Courtesy: FINANCIAL EXPRESS.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

ARTICLE 533 - Osian's Buys Minerva of "Sholay" Fame

[July 08, 2006] TIMES NEWS NETWORK

MUMBAI: Once, it was known for its Sholay connection. Now, artsier times lie ahead. The legendary Minerva at Bombay Central, which once belonged to Sohrab Modi and where Ramesh Sippy's blockbuster ran for five years, changed hands on Friday morning. The new owner, Neville Tuli of art auction house Osian's, has grand plans. But regular Bollywood plays no part in them. "Osianama - that's what the complex will be called - will be an integrated institution for cinema, the fine arts, pop culture, architecture and later literature and philosophy," says Tuli. "We'll have our auction house there, our film archive, post-production facilities, permanent exhibition spaces and two or three screens where the best of world and experimental cinema and shorts will be screened. It'll take us a year or so to build it into a great world destination for art and cinema." Minerva, which was acquired for Rs 29 crore, was one of Mumbai's more popular theatres. But even though its character is to change dramatically with regular films being spliced out ("Everyone shows regular films - I want a space where commercial needs are not pivotal"), Tuli hopes that the man on the street will figure prominently in its new avatar as well. His oft-cited philosophy has been to create a confluence of the arts and a common cultural value system, and the entry point for this in a film-crazy country, he says, couldn't be anything but cinema. "Every art has a different reach and a different entry point into the psyche of people," he elucidates. "Because of this, all the arts have to start working together - one art can subsidise the others. For that, you need a space where the janata and upper classes can enter together and intermingle through various platforms. Osianama is that space." With this lofty philosophy underpinning the project, acquiring a great cinema house, Tuli says, was vital. "There aren't too many of those left in India," he says.

Article Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA.

Friday, July 07, 2006

EXHIBIT 41 - Cityscape - Somenath Maity

Mahua - The Art Gallery presents "Structure - Cityscape" - a collection of oil paintings in which artist Somenath Maity layers his canvasses with vibrant landscapes in a mass of ascending vertical accumulations. As one explores the canvasses, one discovers familiar sights and images: street nooks, lighted windows, railings, heights, a blue starry night merging with the contradictory emotions of hope and vulnerability that are always present in a city.

Mahua - The Art Gallery.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

EXHIBIT 40 - Encode - Decode

Name: George Martin P.J.
Title: Glimpse under the subway
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 58 x 58 in.

Name: Manil Gupta
Title: The wonder of 'You'
Medium: Acrylic & pen on canvas
Size: 44 x 34 in.

The Palette Art Gallery.

Monday, July 03, 2006

WORK 83 - Critics' Corner.

Name: Vanita Gupta
Title: Untitled
Medium: Ink on Paper pasted on board
Size: 29.5 x 21.5 in.

Saffron Art.

ARTICLE 532 - London art gallery closes M.F. Husain exhibition after paintings vandalised

[3 July 2006] Ajay Prakash for WORLD SOCIALIST WEB SITE.

On May 22, London’s Asia House Gallery shut down a major exhibition by 91-year-old Maqbool Fida Husain, India’s most famous contemporary artist, after three men entered the gallery and defaced two of his paintings—Durga and Draupadi. The exhibition, “M.F. Husain: Early Masterpieces 1950-70s,” was opened on May 10 by Indian high commissioner Kamalesh Sharma and scheduled to run until August 5. Damage to the works, which were sprayed with black paint, is estimated to be at least £200,000. According to one press report, the gallery was denied insurance for the Husain exhibition following the attack. While no one has admitted responsibility, the London-based Hindu Human Rights and the Hindu Forum of Britain, which are linked to right-wing fundamentalist formations in India, had demanded closure of the Asia House exhibit, claiming that it contained “obscene images of Hindu goddesses”. The Hindu Human Rights group had also planned a demonstration outside the gallery on May 27. A statement by British-based Indian academics denounced the Hindu Human Rights and the Hindu Forum of Britain. It declared that these organisations were using “the same tactics” as Hindu fundamentalist organisations in India and were “undermining India’s constitutional right to freedom of thought and expression”.

Awaaz South Asia Watch, a web site that monitors religious hatred in South Asia and Britain, pointed out that the Hindu Forum of Britain had “actively supported or defended” the activities of the Hindu supremacists Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the associated World Hindu Council (Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP). These organisations are notorious for fomenting communalist attacks on Muslims and anything deemed to be “insulting Hinduism”. Economist and Labour peer Meghnad Desai described the vandalism as “an outrageous attack on artistic freedom in the British context” and claimed that, “the objection to Husain is not the so-called obscenity of his paintings. It is because he is a Muslim and hence the desire of some Hindu groups to deny his artistic freedom to take Hindu gods and goddesses as his theme.” Notwithstanding these statements, there has been little reportage in the British media, apart from one article and a couple of letters in the Guardian newspaper. Nor have any leading British artists or intellectuals condemned the vandalisation of Husain’s work or the show’s closure. At the same time, Asia House has capitulated to the Hindu chauvinist agitation and expunged all reference to the Husain exhibition from its web site. When contacted by WSWS reporters, Asia House cultural director Katriana Hazell would only repeat that the show had been closed for “security reasons” and that the situation was “complex”. Hazell refused to elaborate or comment on the questions of artistic freedom and on her attitude to demands from the Hindu fundamentalists.

Husain targeted since 1996

M. F. Husain has been painting for more than 70 years and is internationally acclaimed for his work. Some of his paintings include naked images of various Hindu deities as well as mythical Indian characters, which aroused the wrath of the Hindu fundamentalists. (For examples of Husain’s art see and According to Husain, whose aim is to create new forms of secular Indian art, the Durga painting “celebrates the joy, the colour of life and has no intention of causing any offence to anyone.” As he has constantly explained, ancient 5,000 year old Indian temples depict “pure and uncovered” images of deities and that “nudity is not nakedness [but] a form of innocence and maturity ...” In a comment published before the exhibition, he declared: “For the last 50 years, an enlightened body of Indian painters has been engaged in reconnecting the reality of the ancient cultural heritage to our time. As in every human endeavour, faith is at the core of it all. With great care and reverence for all faiths, the Indian sub-continent has evolved a unique secular culture. I am a humble contributor towards the creation of a great Indian composite culture.” Vandal attacks by religious extremists against Husain first began in October 1996, when Bajrang Dal members (the youth section of the RSS-VHP) forced their way into the Husain-Doshi Gufa Art Gallery in Ahmedabad and destroyed about 23 tapestries and 28 paintings by Husain, including his Hanuman and Madhuri Dixit series and a depiction of the Last Supper. Their pretext was Husain’s controversial 1976 “nude” sketch of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art and knowledge.

Two years later in 1998, Husain’s home in Bombay was broken into and damaged by fundamentalists protesting over his paintings of Hindu deities Hanuman and Sita. As well as targeting Husain, Hindu extremists have also attacked Indian historians, artists and filmmakers. In early 2000, for example, filmmaker Deepa Mehta was forced to abandon production in India of her film Water, which dramatises the plight of Hindu widows and “inter-caste” relationships, after Hindu fundamentalists destroyed film sets and threatened the cast and crew in Varanasi. The movie was eventually shot secretly in Sri Lanka and released in Canada in late 2005. In India’s Gujarat state, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds power, the organisation’s youth wing have recently mounted protests against Bollywood actor and producer Aamir Khan and forced cinema owners to ban screenings of his latest film Fanaa, a Bollywood romance. Khan was singled out not because of anything in the movie but because he has publicly opposed Hindu extremist violence and campaigned for decent compensation and relocation for the 35,000 people who will be displaced by Narmada Dam project. Early this year fundamentalists once again turned their attention to Husain, mounting street protests and demanding legal action over Mother India, Husain’s painting for Mission Kashmir, an organisation that raised funds for victims of the October 2005 earthquake. The painting depicts a naked woman combined with the map of India. Shiv Sena (Army of Shiva) party leader Bhagwan Goel publicly declared that he would pay a half-million rupee reward for anyone who cut off one of Husain’s arms.

In late March a court in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, ruled that Husain had “offended” Hindus and asked police to register a case against him. The order came following a VHP petition, alleging that the artist had portrayed Hindu gods and goddesses in an “objectionable” manner and was “disturbing communal harmony”. These blatant violations of Husain’s democratic rights, however, became even more serious in May when India’s central government, the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), joined the assault. On May 5, a few days before the opening of Husain’s London exhibition, the UPA instructed Mumbai and Delhi police to take “appropriate” action against the 91-year-old, declaring that his work had the potential to “hurt religious feelings”. This directive, which came from the Home Ministry, after consultation with the government’s Law Ministry, is unprecedented. It is the first time Husain has been targeted by the Congress-led regime, which claims to be secular and oppose Hindu fundamentalism. The UPA moves against Husain were no doubt a key factor in encouraging those who vandalised the London exhibition and clearly demonstrate that the Congress-led government has only tactical differences with the Hindu fundamentalists. Despite Congress’s posturing as a secular movement, a claim that stems from its role in the struggle against British colonial rule, it has always exploited communalism at key crisis points. That the Congress government has bowed down to the Hindu fundamentalists on this most basic democratic question—freedom of expression—is a reflection that it is facing a deepening political crisis. Congress’ surprise victory in the 2004 Indian elections reflected widespread hostility against the BJP-led government and its pro-market program. Two years on, the UPA is imposing the same economic measures which are widening the gulf between rich and poor. It has joined the anti-Husain campaign in a bid to prove own communal credentials and undermine the ability of the BJP to exploit the issue.