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With An Eye for Art
Indian Art has indeed come of age. There is a growing market for Asian art in general and Indian art in particular among the neo rich connoisseurs. Cities like Pune are emerging hot spots for art enthusiasts. Surhuda Kulkarni taps the trends.

Modern Indian homes are vibrant with myriad contemporary trends in design and decoration. Fine Art is an integral element in a comprehensive design. A must have for the neo rich; it is growing in leaps and bounds. The economic boom of the late ninetees ushered in a steady market for Indian art. Neo and quasi modern homes flaunt the contemporary avatar of this creative genre.  Figuratives, portraits, abstracts, landscapes, all have a niche market. Although cheaper than in the west, Indian art is an internationally rocking commodity now. 

Originals, prints, duplicates all have their loyal clientele according to the pocket size of the buyer.  An artist’s brand equity goes up with his/her experience and the more the seasoned an artist, the steeper the rates. At the top rung are veterans like Hussain, Anjali Ela Menon, Jatin Das,Tayyab Mehta, Ramkumar Gaitonde, Kishen Khanna,   whose works are oscillating between a cool Rs 50 lakhs to anything upwards. The prices are determined by the size of the painting as also the artist’s brand positioning in the market. The middle order, with Rini Dhumal, Ajay Dey, Subhash Awachat, Ganesh Pyne, Paritosh Sen, Madhuri Bhaduri not only have a colourful pallete but a zealous clientele ready to lap up their creations even at a heavy price tag. Any such reputed artist fetches upwards of Rs 2 lakhs minimum.  New artists have a broad vista of options for selling their art. Corporate houses, collectors, art galleries architects and designers buy the works of those on the threshold of an arts career.

 Asian art as an equity is a catching concept world wide where connoisseurs invest heavily in art instead of the luminous gold and silver. “Art doesn’t   depreciate with time, it appreciates. People with surplus cash repeatedly buy art pieces of different size. Industrialists and big business owners have collections of art pieces upto 300 each. They appoint special caretakers for these pieces”, says Sunetra Summanwar of Xpressions art gallery in Pune.  Sunetra’s clients prefer contemporary art, mostly in acrylic on canvas. Their exhibitions get a warm response as the discerning buyer makes a beeline for known artists.  Acrylic on canvas, oil, charcoal, oil on paper, different media have fixed customers. New artists are promoted by art galleries and it takes a few years for each artist to get into the grind of the business. Their work becomes eligible to enter auctions only with age.  

The entry of international auction houses in India like Christies and Sotheby’s is yet another shot in the arm for the business. Online auction options also offer a huge palette for the buyer. Websites like saffron art are fast picking up. Says eminent painter Madhuri Bhaduri whose abstracts are sold the world over, “ As compared to the international market, the prices are much cheaper in India. All art forms like figuratives, landscapes and abstracts are selling. But an artist has to come of age before getting due exposure. Art galleries apart, there have to be museums and galleries to promote art. Only big cities like Mumbai and Delhi have these. Pune needs an art gallery.” Stressing on the need for strict copyright regulations, Madhuri rues the growing market for ‘fakes’ or ‘duplicates’. “With originals beyond reach for the common man, the market for fake signature pieces of renowned artists is also high”, she explains. Jagdeesh, a Mumbai based art lover avers, “originals are priceless.  Even if costing a bomb, the works of famous artists surely goes up with time. If restoration is done timely, nothing happens to the art pieces,” he adds. Leave alone decorating homes, art collection can be a lucrative business proposition indeed.

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