M A I N   N E W S

Indian viewers & art collectors come of age
Nonika Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 23
Curtains came down on the four-day India Art Summit here on Sunday and gallery owners, even those who did not sell a single piece and there were as many as 84 galleries participating, could not stop smiling.

They were evidently surprised at the footfalls. The preview itself had drawn more than 11,500 people and the trend continued through the Summit with even VIPs like Sonia Gandhi making an appearance. Sales too were said to be higher.

Paris-based Raza, who has returned to India after six decades, and the India-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor, were the star attractions at the Speaker’s Forum of the summit.

MF Husain’s works, which were initially taken off after the preview following threats and which were brought back on Saturday, continued to draw attention. The small barricade had grown into a more formidable fencing to ward off the potential vandals though.

Experimental works and new trends in art sold surprisingly well.

Video projections of Ranbir Kaleka, who happens to be an alumnus of the Government College of Art, Chandigarh, drew in both crowds and collectors. While the first day saw huge buyers’ interest in his work “Man with the Cockerel’, on Saturday many more of his works including “Cul -de-sac in Taxila” were sold. More and more Indian buyers seem to be getting adventurous and opting for experimental works like video art and installations.

Not surprisingly, Religare Art gallery sold an unusual but extremely exciting and interactive work of the artist Sumakshi Singh, who called it a ‘perceptual installation’. Similarly, a rather interesting work made of drain covers by Adeela Suleman, a Pakistani artist who reflects on the plight of women trapped in domestic world, was lapped up for nearly Rs 16 lakhs.

The directors of international galleries, however, felt that the Indian art collector is not yet familiar with the works of international artists. Photographs of Albert Watson, well-known in international circuits didn’t find a single taker. Same was the story at the Carbon 2 gallery from Dubai. That there is some truth in what they say was evident from the tepid response at the Speaker’s Forum to established artist Dan Graham’s interaction.

Sundaram Tagore, President and Curator of the Sundaram Tagore gallery in New York, argued otherwise. Overall, he stressed, the response has been phenomenal and even the amazing work of Sohan Qadri, titled ‘Mahamaya’ and priced at a staggering 78,000 US dollars, had been “verbally” sold, he pointed out. But at the end of the day, as Mukesh Panika, director Religare Art remarked, “ Sustainability of art is not just about selling or buying. It’s about consciousness and engaging more and more people”. 




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