Art is more affordable now

Many galleries and consultants in Bengaluru are catering to clients who aren’t really super rich

For long deemed an indulgence of the affluent, collecting art is now something the middle class can afford.

Artists and galleries in Bengaluru underline two qualities for collectors: taste and patience. With paintings selling for as little as Rs 20,000, affluence is not such a big requirement anymore.

“It’s a personal experience. An art collector, when he sees a piece of work that intrigues her, might not buy it immediately. She comes back to it. It should be a peaceful, unhurried process — you are not buying designer garments,” says Sadhna Menon, founder, Art and Beyond, an art consulting company based in Bengaluru.

What is deemed valuable?

It depends on the perception, and that differs for every collector, says Sadhna.

“Some collectors search for pieces with depth, things they would like to grow old with. Others buy art only as an investment and their choice depends on inputs from dealers and galleries,” she says. 

Who buys art?

Namu Kini, founder of Kynkyny (www.kynkyny.com), an online art gallery, says art-buying demographic is mostly couples and home owners, and 30-plus. They are professionals, entrepreneurs and industrialists, or NRIs.

How to go about it?

If a collector likes a particular artist, the first step is to research the background, check with galleries, and ask around in the market.

“Unfortunately, there are fakes doing the rounds in the market and one needs to be really careful as even auction houses are not entirely sure,” warns Sadhna.

She says every collector’s perception is different. A young collector might like to start small, and pick up works by young artists. But an old collector might opt for big names like Tyeb Mehta or Vasudeo S Gaitonde, which means no research is called for.

Who is in demand?

Namu Kini lists names like G Subramanian, Praveen Kumar, Elayaraja and Yuvan Bothi Sathuvar.

“Most recently, we sold paintings by Praveen Kumar (Rs 1.2 lakh), Sachin Jaltare (Rs 75,000), G Subramanian (Rs 1.95 lakh) and Sathuvar (Rs 5 lakh),” she says.

Uzma Irfan, director, Prestige Group and founder, Sublime Galleria, says interest is high in contemporary Indian figurative works between Rs 20,000 and Rs 2 lakh.

Many Indian artists who start here get promoted internationally, which pushes up their market in India, observes Sadhna. Sudarshan Shetty and Sheela Gowda are examples she cites. 

What is trending?

Sadhna says her collection has just begun, and she likes art that are not morbid. She looks for works that make her happy and reveal a different dimension every time she looks at them. Names in her collection are JMS Mani and Kudalayya Hiremath, among others.

“I know Mani and the depth in his works, and the use of Indian colours attracts me to his paintings. His command over the strokes, the medium and his experiments are amazing,” she says.

She knows his works fall in the category of investment art.

“But his potential has not been explored, like M F Husain, who was at the right place at the right time,” she says.

Kudalayya Hiremath from Pune and was picked him up from the annual street art show, Chitra Santhe, in Bengaluru. “We nurtured him and he is among the top watercolour artists in the world,” she adds.

Sadhna would like to pick up the works of N V Parashar, a wildlife photographer-turned-artist who works with charcoal and crumpled newspapers. 

Patrons look for these

- An artist who is technically proficient.

- A telling theme, unless work is purely abstract.

- An artist with a good exhibit record.

- Uniqueness.

   - Uzma Irfan, Founder, Sublime Galleria


Kudalayya Hiremath

Artist found at Chitra Santhe

Kudalayya Hiremath from Pune and was discovered at the annual street art show, Chitra Santhe, in Bengaluru. He is now ranked among the top watercolour artists in the world, according to an art consultant.

Keep this in mind

- Try and build your collection around a theme, for example, miniature paintings or folk art.

- If you are looking at investment art, make sure of the provenance and authenticity.

(Purchases are accompanied by documentation, commonly known as provenance, to confirm authenticity, mainly through ownership history).

- Be patient and search in the smaller galleries too, and not just the big ones.

Art needs more support in India

Ruing that Indians are more inclined to buy works of Western painters, Sadhna, founder of consultation company Art and Beyond, says young artists here need support.

“Though Gaitonde is an established name now, he died penniless. What is the big deal if you call an artist a master after he passes away? Artists should be able to enjoy fame and recognition when they are alive. India has many brilliant young artists who need to be given a chance,” she says.

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