Handmade prints lure big money to art mart

Ashoke Nag, ET Bureau

KOLKATA: Original handmade prints created by famed artists are climbing on the price front. In a recent auction, Somnath Hore’s and Chittoprasad’s prints have fetched Rs 2 lakh-plus. This underlines the perception about the print medium, which was ignored a few years back, is now drawing closer attention. Mentionably, print prices have grown ten-fold in the last ten years.
“Prints are normally turned out in multiple copies. People felt earlier that works which are in more than one copy don’t deserve much value. But, bronze sculptures, as an international convention, almost always sees around ten original copies. And, many artists enjoy making copies of their well-known works. This also helps greater availability of the pieces.
“Interestingly, paintings have also seen copies. The renowned Jamini Roy, in his later years, executed copies of a painting with the help of his son. This was an attempt by Roy to spread out to a larger group of people. He also signed the paintings to drive home that they are his own works,” an art market source told ET. The famous Hemen Mazumdar, too, made copies of his popular and favourite paintings, sometimes in different sizes,” the source said.
Prints, in any case, as a tradition are produced in several copies or editions as they are known in the art world. The prints are generally made in five, ten or 15 copies. Sometimes, they can also go up to 50 prints. The earlier artists would usually not come up with more than 10 prints, mainly because the market for them was very limited.
“Today, a person buying prints can be fairly confident of finding a market for them. The realisation has now dawned among buyers that prints are original creations by artists and enjoy a value of their own. Sometimes, artists generate prints in different colours which could command more value,” the source said. According to the source, there are artists who also turn out monoprints, which implies that they are just in a single copy. This is like a painting which, generally, is produced as a single piece. This was recently demonstrated in Kolkata through Shyam Sharma’s works. Arun Bose is also known for his monoprints.
Kolkata’s oldest gallery Chitrakoot is soon putting up a show of prints which would encompass artists like Nandalal Bose, KG Subramanyan, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Amitabha Banerjee, Sanat Kar, Somnath Hore and Haren Das among others. Bikash Bhattacharjee and Ganesh Pyne had also produced a print each which are going to be displayed in the exhibit. Works by older labels such as Ramen Chakravarty and Basudeb Roy together with Chitpur prints will also be shown.
“India boasts of top notch print makers. The quality of works produced in graphic media can be seen in the works of Haren Das, Chittoprasad, Somnath Hore, Arun Bose and several others. They can match up to the leading print makers internationally,” the source observed.
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