Art: Tough times always produce timeless works

The economy is in recession, everything is in a state of flux, and no one knows where the world is heading to. It turns out these are ideal In pics: Contemporary Art conditions for art to evolve. If all goes well, a number of artists, galleries and collectors would find this as an opportunity to combine ambition, style, esprit de corps, and connoisseurship.
Says art critic Jerry Saltz who writes columns for The Village Voice and New York magazines: The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artists—especially emerging ones—won't have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand. They'll be able to experiment as much as they want." The uncertain future is definitelty determining the present. But it is surely not being pulled back by the recent past.
The art world was redefined and retracted when there was a financial crunch in the forties, seventies and the nineties. Says artist Riyas Komu who held a solo show in Berlin immediately after the financial crisis: "I think artists become more experimental at a stage when the surroundings change drastically and also at point when it grows globally. We saw it with Indian art when the nation started moving faster."
What about recession? "Recession is bad for everyone," he adds though he begs to differ that it would benefit the art world. "In relation with art if you say it's good, its like saying tragedy (war) is good for art, I think it's a cynical view point ... One should say an artist becomes more careful and drastically reactionary when the society oscillates."
However poet and artist Sanjeev Khandekar who has created a body of works critiquing the stock markets and their foundation on speculation feels that a meltdown and drying up of the markets actually would make artists think better.
"Bad times have seen radical art but the good times have always seen more experimentation. Recession is bad for everything. Good art is produced in all times; good, bad and sad times have all witnessed good art. An artist is not a trader. A trader gets the heat of recession. Recession will help to separate "crafty decorative" art that was selling, from good art."
However, these unstable times also brings in some circumspection. Hence Khandekar immediately appends: "We must remember that good time also facilitates some unusual experimentation and brings in lots of new possibilities. During bad times fascist tendencies and other similar oppressive elements start setting in the system which sometimes does not allow experiments to take place."
Shalini of Guild Art Gallery has a steadier opinion. She feels that in a boom as well as a downturn artists did have the chance and inclination to experiment. "Just that the tone would be different. In boom the experiments may have been bolder, larger in scale and ambitious In downturn the experiments may take different direction. But I would say that most creative artists would always be experimenting."
So there is no hurry to throw cheer to the winds. Unhealthy practices like deliberate inflations, artificial scarcity of works of living artists, organised hoardings, planted reviews and orchestrated praise and criticism are fast disappearing and art enthusiasts are seeing this as the right time to open galleries. It has happened before and it is happening now.
London, New York, Singapore and back home in New Delhi several galleries have come up in the past couple of months. Says Anders Petterson, founder and managing director of Art Tactic.com that had published an Indian Art Market Confidence Survey in October, 2008: "A correction is healthy for the sustainability of the art market.
The interest in art will not disappear, art and artists will not disappear—if anything, a tougher environment will be more conducive to artistic creativity, and hopefully the market will go back to focusing on what constitutes the real value of art, as art history is rarely made in the auction rooms."
That hushers in a mood of introspection. "Slowing down to contemplate cannot be a bad thing," says Usha Mirchandani of Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke. She held a show by German painter Norbert Bisky at her gallery which just close to the Taj hotel in Mumbai.
"We had his opening at which he spoke about his work, his bonding with India because of the experience he went through and he was very positive about the role of art in life. I would like to hold on to that thought through the coming months and focus on the certainty that things will be good again, value will be restored to art."
So all is not murky in the world of art. And Riyas Komu vouches for that. "Art wont be an uncle and aunty business at least for sometime," he declares. Well it will surely give birth to some new babies.

Source - Eonomic Times
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