Thursday, June 12, 2008

Two art auctions next week could heat up the market

Kishore Singh

In 2007, when a Mumbai-based art gallery released a set of 18 limited edition serigraphs of painter Jehangir Sabavala, the sceptics among collectors sniggered about what they perceived as manipulation of prices.

In the time the exhibition-cum-sale moved from Mumbai to Delhi, the prices of the smaller of the serigraph prints (16'x24.4') had escalated from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000 each, and the larger prints (24.4'x33.6') had jumped from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1,50,000 each. If you bought the entire set, you might therefore have paid Rs 8 lakh in Mumbai, and a little later, Rs 13.5 lakh in Delhi.

This year, one such set was auctioned by Bonham's for Rs 26 lakh. And now, another set is on offer at the June 15 auction of Bid & Hammer in Bangalore, where the estimate value of Rs 22-24 lakh might well be comfortably breached. It is this careful sourcing of art works that marks the auction company's bid for respectability.

Badly scorched at its debut auction a few months back, Bid & Hammer this time has paid considerably more attention to its lots, choosing between well-established artists as well as quality works by those less well known. More importantly, it has based estimates on a realistic, perhaps even the low-end of the scale.

A Thota Vaikuntam oil on canvas, arguably only 8'x7', is estimated at a laughable Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000.

The coming week has another auction on the anvil — that of online auction house Saffronart — on June 18-19. And the most excitement among collectors is being generated for works by MF Husain, who has been cleared of obscenity charges against him in India.

Though the artist has not yet risked his return to the country, the Saffronart auction should see a major swing in his works, paralleling his own life.

In all, 140 lots of modern and contemporary works are on offer, and though many of the by-now predictable names are out in force (F N Souza, S H Raza, Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee, J Swaminathan, Jogen Chowdhury, Laxma Goud and Krishen Khanna), interesting inclusions are Manjit Bawa (collectors are holding on to the artist's works while he lies in coma, hoping for an escalation in their value), Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, Chitra Ganesh, Gopikrishna, Farhad Hussain and Vivan Sundaram.

The Saffronart auction will be keenly watched to see which way prices go, especially since international interest in Indian art has continued to uphold values. Even though they might not be escalating as sharply as before, Indian artists, those living or deceased, have continued to set higher individual records at auctions of their works.

This was certainly so in London where, last month, Sotheby's realised $8.4 million from a sale of modern and contemporary Indian art, setting as many as 11 individual record highs for artists Akbar Padamsee, F N Souza, Subodh Gupta (for a work on canvas), Bharti Kher, Rabindranath Tagore, Jitish Kallat and others. "Indian art," said Zara Porter-Hill, head of Indian art at Sotheby's, "continues to prosper – it's a market on the move."

June rang up in London when 19th century wash views on Coonoor and Darjeeling in India painted by explorer artist Edward Lear opened the month. At the time of writing, an exhibition of 32 works from the private collection of Tina and Anil Ambani has just been shown by Christie's.

The auction house has also consigned 12 works from Tina Ambani's Harmony Art Foundation for auction, as part of its sale of South Asian modern and contemporary art where the stars of the show are old favourites F N Souza and Tyeb Mehta.

For news of how the Christie's auction went, watch this space. Else, there are always the serigraphs next week – henceforth let no one tell you only "original" works have resale value.

In all, 140 lots of modern and contemporary works are on offer, and though many of the by-now predictable names are out in force (F N Souza, S H Raza, Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee, J Swaminathan, Jogen Chowdhury, Laxma Goud and Krishen Khanna), interesting inclusions are Manjit Bawa (collectors are holding on to the artist's works while he lies in coma, hoping for an escalation in their value), Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, Chitra Ganesh, Gopikrishna, Farhad Hussain and Vivan Sundaram.

The Saffronart auction will be keenly watched to see which way prices go, especially since international interest in Indian art has continued to uphold values. Even though they might not be escalating as sharply as before, Indian artists, those living or deceased, have continued to set higher individual records at auctions of their works.

This was certainly so in London where, last month, Sotheby's realised $8.4 million from a sale of modern and contemporary Indian art, setting as many as 11 individual record highs for artists Akbar Padamsee, F N Souza, Subodh Gupta (for a work on canvas), Bharti Kher, Rabindranath Tagore, Jitish Kallat and others. "Indian art," said Zara Porter-Hill, head of Indian art at Sotheby's, "continues to prosper — it's a market on the move."

June rang up in London when 19th century wash views on Coonoor and Darjeeling in India painted by explorer artist Edward Lear opened the month. At the time of writing, an exhibition of 32 works from the private collection of Tina and Anil Ambani has just been shown by Christie's.

The auction house has also consigned 12 works from Tina Ambani's Harmony Art Foundation for auction, as part of its sale of South Asian modern and contemporary art where the stars of the show are old favourites F N Souza and Tyeb Mehta.

For news of how the Christie's auction went, watch this space. Else, there are always the serigraphs next week — henceforth let no one tell you only "original" works have resale value.
Post a Comment