dimanche 31 mai 2009

Sunil Gawde, la touche indienne de la Biennale de Venise

par Sarah Collin. Source : Aujourd'hui l'Inde
Sunil Gawde, artiste contemporain né en 1960, exposera son œuvre "Allitérations" à la Biennale de Venise à partir du 7 juin 2009, avant de s’envoler pour une résidence au Centre Pompidou à Paris. Rencontre avant son départ, dans son atelier de Bombay.
Son oeuvre Allitérations sera exposée à Venise à partir du 7 juin D'où vient son inspiration ? Lui ne se pose pas la question. "Je crée comme je respire. Je suis un artiste !", dit Sunil Gawde. Son atelier immaculé du Sud de Bombay, au cœur du quartier du Fort, généralement plus prisé par les compagnies d'assurance que par les artistes, est baigné de lumière. Au centre de la pièce, une poutre en métal noir retient un gros paquet suspendu dans les airs, enroulé dans un drap blanc. À l'intérieur, mystère.
Pour nous, l'artiste lève le voile : il s'agit d'une ampoule noire géante, intitulée Blind bulb (ampoule aveugle). L'œuvre évoque à la fois l'absurdité d'un objet inutile, l'introversion et le repli sur l'esprit qui s'opère lorsque l'on ferme les yeux, mais aussi peut-être, la mort d'un espace où la lumière ne parvient pas… Sunil Gawde se montre intarissable sur son travail. Pourtant ce n'est pas cette sculpture qu'il présentera à la 53ème édition de la Biennale de Venise, du 7 juin au 22 novembre 2009. La pièce concernée, elle, voyage déjà vers l'Europe.
Son invitation à la plus ancienne manifestation d'art contemporain, Sunil Gawde la considère avant tout comme une formidable opportunité. "C'est extraordinaire de pouvoir exposer sur une telle plateforme, là où se trouvent les véritables amateurs d'art", confie-t-il. Il ne sera pas le seul représentant de l'Inde à Venise. Nikhil Chopra et Anju Dodiya, deux artistes de Bombay, y participeront aussi aux côtés de Sheela Gowda, une plasticienne de Bangalore.
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vendredi 29 mai 2009

The going’s still good

Auction houses strike an optimistic note ahead of the summer art auction season, by Himanshu Bhagat. Source The Wall Street Journal
Come summer and those who can, head for Europe’s cooler climes. This annual migration of the well-heeled Indian hasn’t escaped the notice of international auction houses; major London auctions of Indian art are held in June. This year, despite the economic downturn and crash in art prices, is no exception. “No doubt we are living in a different world,” admits Maithili Parekh, India representative of Sotheby’s, referring to the vastly altered market scenario since last summer. “But the positive thing is that it is becoming a buyer’s market.”
An auction house’s fundamental approach to selling art, she says, never changes—selecting and selling the best works by the best artists, which are priced well and have proven provenance (previous ownership and authenticity of a work). She accepts, though, that the downturn tends to make auctions “smaller and more focused”. Sotheby’s 16 June auction will feature 84 works—miniatures, modern and contemporary art, among them a work by Jogen Chowdhury, an early Paritosh Sen from his Paris days, and a work by Manjit Bawa (who died in December) that used to be part of the famous Herwitz collection.
Hugo Weihe, international director of Asia art at Christie’s auction house, agrees that auctions are more tightly curated in the wake of the downturn. “Now, selectivity is more important than ever,” he says. Ninety-seven works will go under the hammer at Christie’s in a 10 June auction, among them an F.N. Souza, an M.F. Husain, an early Tyeb Mehta and two works by Bawa.
Since buyers tend to be conservative during a slowdown, Weihe says masters from the modern period of Indian art, such as Husain and Souza, are in greater demand because they are “less of a risk”. As are “blue chip” contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat. “Their works have become more affordable,” he points out. “(And) these artists are here to stay.”
Parekh says well-priced, top-quality art is always of interest to buyers regardless of the economic scenario—works such as Women in Red, painted by Husain in 1964, are a highlight of Sotheby’s June auction. “The 1960s were a prolific and stellar time in his career,” she adds. “So this work is bound to get noticed and receive a lot of interest.”
The two major auction houses are very old—Christie’s was established in 1766 and Sotheby’s in 1744—and are likely to take business cycles in their stride. Mirroring the larger world outside, Parekh views weaker cycles as a corrective—strong artists and works emerge stronger, weaker ones suffer. “Good art will do well; mediocre art will fall slightly,” she says.
Around 2000, Indian art achieved a new level of prominence internationally and this higher profile was buoyed in the boom years that followed. The recognition was overdue, says Weihe. He points out that museums around the world are catching up—the Mori museum in Japan recently hosted Chalo! India, a show of Indian contemporary art, and the Guggenheim museum in New York is planning one in two years.
But, for all the hype, Weihe stresses that masters of the modern period such as Mehta, Souza and Husain still haven’t received the critical attention that is their due. “We need catalogue raisonne, monographs, retrospective exhibitions,” he says, adding that their early works are both under-appreciated and underpriced.

mardi 19 mai 2009

Hard times haven’t hit art that hard

By Georgina Maddox. Source : ExpressIndia
“In the times of recession, it becomes clear who is collecting art for the sake of it and who looks at it as a pure investment,” says Dr Hugo Weihe, International Director, Asian Art at Christie’s, the UK-based auction house. While the price of art may have fallen by 30 to 40 per cent, Weihe assured collectors that the high quality art will still get its price at the auctions. “We have come a long way. Since 2000 when Tyeb Mehta’s Celebration sold at 1 crore, we have not fallen back in our prices alarmingly. Admittedly, it has become difficult for us to get our hands on these rare pieces because most collectors are holding on to their art now,” Weihe adds. “We must remember that compared to China and the Middle East, the Indian art market is still a young one and has a lot of potential to grow,” said Weihe.
The auction house, with offices world over, held a talk and discussion about the value of art in these troubled times. On the panel were artist Jitish Kallat, Gallery owner and collector Abhay Maskara and collector Dillip De. De reiterated that he bought art since the 80s and was pushing up the prices of art for a good cause. “At a charity auction for Help Age India, I bid for a Laxman Shreshtha painting, priced at Rs 22, 000, to Rs 90,000. This was for a cause. It is important to put money into art to make it grow and for talent to prosper,” says De, who recalled days when artists used to travel by public transport and wear tattered clothes.
Maskara puts the artist at the top of the pyramid, and says: “The risk an artist takes is paramount to the making of art. Gallery owners may nurture it and collectors put their money where there mouth is, but the artist must take the biggest risk in making art that may not sell.” De countered this by pointing out that if no one bought art, it would sound the death knell for the art industry. “People were surprised when a painting by Gustuv Klimpt sold for 600 crore. The value of art can be pushed up by determined collectors.”
While both Maskara and Kallat agreed that collectors are a very important section of the art industry. “Art has navigated brutal times. The Klimpt or the any other work of that time was created in difficult times. In fact art can thrive in the absence of affluence,” says Kallat, sealing off the argument and bringing us back to the point that the value of art is more than the zeros attached to the price tag.

dimanche 17 mai 2009

Art syndicate hopes to snare £40m bargain

By Phillip Inman. Source : The Observer
A slump in the value of major artworks has encouraged a group of investors to form a bargain-hunting syndicate that yesterday said it was bidding to buy two corporate art collections worth more than £40m.
The Fine Art Fund Group, led by long-time art investor Philip Hoffman, is leading talks with a major manufacturer and a Spanish bank which are both keen to generate cash to shore up their finances. Works including a Picasso and a series of photographs by US artist Cindy Sherman are part of the collections on offer.
Recent auctions by Christie's and Sotheby's have catalogued a dramatic slide in prices of contemporary art after a high last September when a sale of Damien Hirst works fetched £111m. From 2003 to 2007, worldwide auction sales of contemporary art grew more than eightfold, according to the French-based database Artprice. However, the Hirst sale coincided with the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and the rise in auction prices then came to a halt, said dealers.
Auctioneers insisted a "flight to quality" would maintain the multi-million pound price tags of old masters, but were less confident that 20th century works maintained their value.
Hoffman is confident that deals can be struck away from the auction rooms with corporations keen to turn paintings and sculptures into cash. He is understood to be building a syndicate of wealthy individuals to invest in the Indian art market after similar falls in art prices. "We believe that excellent works of modern and contemporary Indian art will come up for sale, both privately and at auctions," he said.

dimanche 10 mai 2009

Drop in prices may fuel art market revival

By Ashoke Nag, source : Economic Times
KOLKATA: Lower prices attract buyers. Although the art mart is not absolutely similar to the stockmarket, it may be true that correcting price tags of artworks could trigger acquisitions of art pieces. In fact, after a total lull in art purchases in galleries, silent signals seem to be emanating where a quality art work is being picked up by a buyer at lower levels. Veterans in the scene are of the view that the art market could revive if prices are dropped by an increasing number of galleries and artists.
"One seems to be sensing some stirrings where buying interest, albeit in a very limited way, is coming into a few galleries. Prices of artworks, especially paintings, in some cases, have dropped by around 40-50%. Auction prices have already gone to these levels. But, somehow, galleries had failed to reduce prices to that extent, perhaps because their acquisition prices were higher. Besides, most artists have a tendency not to reduce their prices," an art specialist and collector told ET.
It is no secret that, over 3-4 years till end-2007, prices were driven to astronomical levels in the Harshad Mehta-like boom in the art market. The Indian market had never seen anything like that before. But, even in the midst of this frenzy, it’s only a few modern and contemporary artists who really rode the boom. The rest experienced the ‘me-too’ phenomenon.
"Now, the reverse is happening. The taller the rise, the steeper the fall. This has saved, to an extent, artists who had hovered within a steady price range. Of course, from the sales standpoint, business is down for artists across the board. It may well transpire that despite the low prices at the moment, high-end artists could see an improvement in their tags once the recessionary blues pass," the specialist said.
According to him, art lovers are on the lookout for their favourite works at bargain levels because prices have become attractive. In fact, this is how the art market was established in India. At the outset, even the masters were available for only a few thousand. They were bought because of their affordability. "Art did not enjoy an investment value in those days. But, those who made acquisitions then, minted gold when the market was established much later," the collector-specialist said.
"Today’s art market situation is somewhat similar only at a higher level. It appears that today’s buyers may reap a like windfall when the overall financial markets and, in turn, the art market recover. Therefore, one can’t overemphasise the benefits of reducing art prices to fuel a decent revival," he summed up.

jeudi 7 mai 2009

India Art-Sales Confidence Drops 63% Since October

By Scott Reyburn. Source :
May 7 (Bloomberg) -- Confidence levels in the once-booming market for Indian art have dropped 63 percent since October as prices slide, according to a report published today by the London-based research company ArtTactic.
ArtTactic’s confidence index for Indian contemporary art alone declined even more, by 90 percent, during the same period. The indexes reflect the balance between optimistic and pessimistic art-market professionals. About a third of respondents believed the market for modern Indian art would rebound within two years. More than half thought demand for contemporary works would take between three and 10 years to recover, said the report.
“Problems first appeared in September 2008, around the time of the Damien Hirst sale,” Anders Petterson, founder of ArtTactic, said in an interview, referring to the U.K. artist’s auction at Sotheby’s that raised 111.5 million pounds ($199 million at the time) and coincided with the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. “The market has had six months to digest events. There has been a lot of art speculation in India and people see there’s nothing to hold these prices up any more.”
Art-investment funds have proliferated in India since 2006. In March 2008, some estimates valued the country’s art fund industry at $65 million to $75 million, though it could be as large as $250 million, said ArtTactic.
Demand for Indian art at auction has slumped as the country’s economy is battered by the deepest financial crisis the world has experienced since the Great Depression. The International Monetary Fund said on April 22 that it expected India’s economy to grow 4.5 percent in 2009, compared with the 7.3 percent achieved last year.

Auction Prices
India’s average auction prices for modern works have fallen 31.5 percent to $54,385 since March 2008, said ArtTactic. The average price of contemporary Indian art has dropped 72.7 percent to $13,827. During the period March 2006 to March 2008, when names such as Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana and Bharti Kher were included in international sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s International, the average auction price of Indian contemporary works had almost doubled, said ArtTactic.
Indian artists marketed by western contemporary dealers have suffered some of the biggest price declines at auction. At last October’s Frieze Art Fair in London, Gupta’s painting “Still Steal Steel #9” sold for 450,000 euros ($607,590). During the March auctions of Indian art in New York, the highest price achieved for a Gupta painting was $176,500.

Price Points
“Western galleries got involved with Indian art at a high price-point and now they’re stuck with it. They’re going to find it difficult to discount,” said Petterson. “A lot of collectors thought it was an unstoppable trajectory. In fact, it’s going to be some time before we reach the bottom.”
Launched in May 2007, the biannual ArtTactic Indian Art Market Confidence Survey was based on responses from a sample of 82 Indian and international collectors, auction house specialists, dealers and art advisers.
“The Indian art market went up so high so quickly, particularly at auction, that the repercussions were bound to be felt,” Conor Macklin, director of the London-based Grosvenor Gallery, said in an interview. “Younger artists who try to sell their works at 2008 prices are going to have a tough time.”
The Grosvenor Gallery, in collaboration with the New Delhi dealership Vadhera, is today previewing a selling exhibition of more than 40 works by Indian modern and contemporary artists.
Prices for modern Indian art have proved more resilient in the crisis, Macklin said, echoing the findings of ArtTactic. The Grosvenor show includes a 1962 painting of a woman’s head by the still-living “Bombay Progressive” artist Akbar Padamsee. The 4-foot-high oil work is priced at $500,000.
“This contraction is actually good for the market,” said Macklin. “It means new collectors can now afford to buy works that were just too expensive 12 months ago. And people will now look at the works as art, not just an asset.”
“Progressive to Altermodern: 62 Years of Indian Art 1947- 2009” runs at the Grosvenor Gallery, 21 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6PX through May 29.
The ArtTactic report is at

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