Indian art cashes in on new dimensions

Ashok Nag

KOLKATA: Indian installation and video art has started going places. With action around this genre hotting up at the buyer’s level, including investors and collectors at auctions, these pieces are turning into powerful tools to put across political, sociological, ecological and environmental messages. Over the past 2-3 years, prices of these works have shot up 5-10 times.

“After the staggering success of Chinese art, India is the next happening story. It’s gained ground tremendously in the last 2-3 years. The auction results for Indian art stand out in this context. Installation and video art may have surfaced sometime in the 90s, but it has never seen the visibility and commercial success that it enjoys today. Moving from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, this has truly emerged as an alternative art form,” an art market source told ET.

According to the source, Indian installation and video art is showing at various fairs like Dubai, Hong Kong, Basel, Miami Basel and Istanbul. They are also being displayed in other venues like the Venice Biennale and are tipped to go to the Havana Biennale.

“The last Venice Biennale saw Indian names like Riyaz Komu and Nalini Malani. We are also figuring in exhibition venues such as the renowned Documenta mega art fest in Germany. Documenta is staged every five years. In the last Documenta, series 12, found presence of works by artists like Bhupen Khakar, Atul Dodiya, photo journalist Ravi Agarwal and film maker Amar Kanwar,” the source said.

Interestingly, quite a few international collectors are picking up this brand of Indian artworks. Among the top names are France’s Francois Pinault, the American Eli Broad, UK’s Charles Saatchi and Frankie Cohen and David Geffen from the US. The most sought after Indian artists in this field at the moment include Subodh Gupta, Bose Krishnamachari, TV Santosh, Jitish Kallat, Baiju Parthan, Anant Joshi and Jyothi Basu.

“Subodh, in fact, has been acquired by top houses like the Pompidou Art Museum. The focus has clearly shifted to the subcontinent and India. At the same time, Indian art has assumed an international character which international collectors can identify with. There is a conscious attempt to inject a crossover element in the works. Sometimes Indian artists are much more pricey than western names,” the source said.

Kolkata’s Ganges Art Gallery has also fielded an exhaustive show of installations, video art and creative photography. The artists include Adip Dutta, Debnath Basu, Paula Sengupta, Tapati Chowdhury, Jayashree Chakravarty, Aditya Basak, Sanjeet Chowdhury and Chhatrapati Dutta. The exhibit at Ganges ranges across, one video art work, around 8 installations and about 9-10 photographs.

The show seems to have broken fresh grounds since such events are just about taking off in Kolkata. Art curators from the US, who visited the exhibit, found it globally relevant. The show is slated to travel to Delhi and Mumbai and then overseas to centres like Dubai and Cuba.
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