Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Destination Europe for Indian works

Ashoke Nag


KOLKATA: Indian art is gaining increased acceptability in Europe.Renowned Paris-based Indian painter Sakti Burman sees a buoyant future for Indian art in these regions. Of course, artists who have been living in Paris for long are obviously enjoying greater visibility and a bigger slice of the European market for Indian art. Pricewise, on an average, Indian artists have found a rise of 300-400% in the European circuit over the past 4-5 years.

“Earlier, around 10-15 years back, Indian painters residing in Paris used to be shown from time to time in that city or in some other place in Europe. This applied to a few of us there like Raza, Viswanadhan, Anju Chowdhury, myself and some of the others. Initially, the French audiences became exposed to Indian art in this manner,” Sakti Burman told ET.

But, now, Mr Burman said with the growth of the Indian economy, art has also achieved more prominence in the international world. In step, the visible rise in interest of the Indian public in acquiring art has also encouraged the foreign public to go for this genre of global art.

“One must also add that the Indian art auctions by top auctioneers like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams and other houses is also drawing foreigners to give Indian art a serious look. And, Indian artists have been scaling tall prices in these auctions. In the same breath, Indians living abroad have also been concertedly buying Indian artworks. This is also influencing their mainstream counterparts So, it’s a lot of factors put together which are driving the European or foreign viewers to weigh purchasing Indian art,” Mr Burman said.

The prices of high-end artists like Raza or Burman have also climbed significantly in the European market. A Raza, which is selling for 3-4 lakh euros now or a Burman which is going at 50,000 euros were one-tenth that level in the European market even 5-6 years back. Auctioneers in France are also sometimes including Indian artists with legendary international names. Recently, for instance, Sakti Burman was featured in a Paris sale which also fielded artists like Picasso, Jacometti and Calder. Lately, the Unesco also unfurled a show of Burman in Paris.

“Off and on, Europeans of various categories acquire Indian art. This covers the French, Belgian, Germans and the Swiss. Some may be buying for the love of it and others as an investment proposition. There are also 4-5 Indian solo shows every year. Galleries in France also come up with proposals to acquire Indian art. Interestingly, some French collectors and dealers are travelling to India to interact with galleries and artists here and explore buying possibilities. This is just the beginning. If the French and the European economies in general grow, Indian art could gain a stronger foothold in these locales,” Mr Burman said.
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