Who cares about
prints of paintings?
FOUR years ago, India’s best known painter M.F. Husain came up with a series of limited edition prints on Madhuri Dixit, the heroine of the film he was then making, Gajagamini. The prints were put up for sale amidst much hype and hoopla. Sadly, there were hardly any takers.
But then, Husain is not the only artist in India whose prints have lost their market value. A number of well known ‘signatures’ like V.S. Gaitonde, Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh and Manu Parekh have virtually stopped making prints of their paintings. And with this a number of print makers are closing shop.
That is however, a part of the problem. Unlike the West, where the print making tradition boasts of such votaries as Albrecht Durer, Honore Daumier and Pablo Picasso, in India the art is indistinguishable from reproductions made for the publications. With computers, its novelty has become all the more diluted.
are restricted in number by editions bearing a common title. Most
editions are not very large — typically between 30 and 100 prints,
though editions of 1,000 are theoretically possible, as also tiny ones
of 10 or less.
Indeed, confusion prevails over the authenticity of several ‘original, limited edition prints’ which have flooded the Indian art market. Even to a trained eye, it can be difficult to say with absolute conviction that something being sold as a piece of art is an ‘original print’ and not a reproduction.
Oddly enough, there are also instances of artists themselves scanning their works into a computer and with the help of skilled technicians, manipulating the image to produce ‘original prints’ complete with signatures. If the resultant work is deleted from the computer hard disk, the print becomes really unique.
It can, however, be argued that the final belongs equally to the technician who made the print possible as to the artist whose work was initially scanned in. And even if the artist manipulates the images independent of any assistance, the effect can be due to the sophisticated computer programmes.
"How long does it take to learn
Adobe Photoshop or Corel Draw?" reasons Roy. "I am told that
there is even more sophisticated software available that can make a
complete novice into an impressive artist. Already we have several
reputed painters who combine brushwork with printmaking on
computers." — MF