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The Indian modern and contemporary art market is flourishing even during the pandemic – The Hindu

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While the economy has tanked during the pandemic, Indian art has not only flourished, it has set record prices

On September 3, 2020, a new record was set in the Indian art world. A 1974 untitled V.S. Gaitonde oil was auctioned by Pundole’s in Mumbai for ₹32 crore. The unnamed international buyer bought the 60×40 inch work remotely, over the phone, in what is fast becoming the norm in these times of pandemic.

The art belonged to the Glenbarra Art Museum in Japan, owned by businessman and collector Masanori Fukuoka who has one of the largest collections of modern Indian art. It broke the record variously held by another Gaitonde that fetched ₹29.3 crore at a Christie’s auction in Mumbai in 2015; Raza’s Tapovan, which fetched ₹29.03 crore at another Christie’s auction held in New York in 2018; and by Amrita Sher-Gil’s The Little Girl in Blue that fetched ₹18.6 crore at a New York auction in 2015.

The Pundole’s sale is only one of several successful online auctions of 2020. In an economy that has largely suffered during the pandemic, the Indian modern and contemporary art market has not only flourished, it has set record prices compared to previous years.

200 online auctions

According to Ishrat Kanga, Deputy Director and Specialist, Head of Sale at Sotheby’s London, the first half of 2020 has seen $575 million in private art sales worldwide, up by 10% from last year.

Sotheby’s latest auction of Indian artwork, Modern and Contemporary South Asian

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde’s untitled painting that fetched ₹29.3 crore

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde’s untitled painting that fetched ₹29.3 crore  
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

Art, was in London on September 29, and featured 16 unpublished works, including pieces by Gaitonde and Ram Kumar as well as Bhupen Khakhar’s 1971 Portrait of Shri Shankerbhai V. Patel Near Red Fort. The last was estimated at ₹4.3 crore and sold for ₹19.17 crore. Khakhar, of course, had a huge exhibition at Tate Modern in 2016, lending more visibility to not just the artist but to Indian art in general in the U.K.

An important aspect at this juncture, as much as the quantum of sales, is the audience adapting to the changing ways in which art is now viewed. “We have held almost 200 online auctions so far in 2020, four times the number last year. And 88% of all bidders at Sotheby’s in the first half of 2020 were online, over a third of the online buyers were new patrons, and over 25% of our buyers worldwide were under 40,” says Kanga.

Art as comfort

Last month, artist Waswo X. Waswo had an online party and artist walkthrough, followed by a Q&A, for the opening of his new show at Gallery Latitude 28 in New Delhi. The audience, he says, was global. “A lot of sales happen during the opening, when people meet each other and in the general euphoria, ask gallery owners to save artworks for them. That’s not happening now. So, we held an online opening, and more than a hundred people joined in, from Pakistan, Switzerland, Delhi and Goa.”

S.H. Raza’s ‘Tapovan’, which fetched ₹29.03 crore

S.H. Raza’s ‘Tapovan’, which fetched ₹29.03 crore
 
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

In August, Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial Hall and New Delhi’s DAG Museums jointly organised ‘An Inheritance of Imaginations’, one of the largest online exhibitions where, probably for the first time, a vast selection of paintings by Rabindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath, Abanindranath and Sunayani Devi Tagore was displayed and discussed.

The positive response to online viewings and auctions has taken artists and gallerists alike by surprise. Says Roshni Vadehra, director of Vadehra Art Gallery in New Dehi, “We thought it would be extremely challenging to convince people to buy art during such uncertain times, but the response has been quite amazing. One reason could be that people are at home. They’re not spending on vacations, so they spend on art or they look at art as a source of comfort.”

No government support

Galleries are also going out of their way to connect with collectors. ‘In Touch’ is an online collaboration between 10 galleries in India and Dubai, where they pool exhibitions, knowledge, audiences and share prices. Another collective of 15 galleries has come together on a platform called TAP India, started by Sharan Apparao of Chennai’s Apparao Galleries, to hold exhibitions, talks and online events once a month. Vadehra Art Gallery and Nature Morte in Delhi have refurbished their online shops and Sotheby’s has added a ‘Buy Now’ section on its website.

The buoyancy in sales, however, doesn’t benefit all artists equally. As Apparao points out, “For every hundred artists, only three succeed. Some have been forced to sell their works cheap because they are not like galleries or collectors who have a cushion.” Waswo, who works with miniature artists in Udaipur, concurs. “I have told the artists who work with me that I can pay them for 12-18 months but other miniature artists, who supply to tourist shops, are selling tea to feed their families.”

There is also the matter of non-existent government support. Unlike many other countries, in India, there are no tax breaks or subsidies for artists and craftsmen. Art attracts some of the highest taxes at 12% GST and an import duty of nearly 15%. Apparao says there are many ways in which both the government and collectors can help build up the art market. “It’s not only about sales,” she says. “You’re also talking of collectors building up a base of educational information and about government infrastructure. About more courses, common platforms for performing arts, and government help to struggling artists.”

The ways in which the art fraternity has banded together to create new ways to sell art during the pandemic, as well as the unexpected jump in art sales, are great gains. Ideally, this learning should be used as a springboard by the fraternity to adapt and innovate in other ways as well.

The writer is the author of a fantasy series, and specialises in art and culture of South East Asia.

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New Downtown Public Art to Support #MississaugaMade – City of Mississauga – City of Mississauga

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Those travelling through Mississauga will notice new public art in the form of light pole banners stretched throughout the City’s downtown core.  This temporary installation by Mississauga-born artist and illustrator, Pranavi Suthagar, celebrates Mississauga’s diversity and cultural identity.

Much of 2020 has been spent reacting and adapting to a new reality brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new street banner public art also helps to promote local businesses, products, artists and activities through the City of Mississauga’s #MississaugaMade online initiative developed by Tourism Mississauga.

“Being born and raised in Mississauga, I am grateful to be a part of this campaign,” said artist Pranavi Suthagar, who was commissioned by the City’s Public Art Program to create new artwork for the Mississauga Made campaign. “I remember seeing all colourful banners decorating the city growing up and I always wondered who created them. To be selected for this campaign, and given the opportunity to share my perspective on how I view the city is a full circle experience.”

“Tourism Mississauga is very proud to be a part of this year’s street banner campaign, in collaboration with the City’s Public Art Program. Not only are the banners a great way to show our support within the community, but they also offer us an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work of a local artist”, said Tej Kainth, Manager of Tourism Mississauga. “Mississauga Made is a campaign that supports all our local businesses and the arts, and we encourage residents and visitors alike to join the movement and support our local talents, and all Mississauga has to offer.”

The street art was installed on Friday, Oct. 16 and will remain on the following streets until mid-January 2021:

  • Living Arts Drive
  • Duke of York Boulevard
  • Prince of Wales Drive
  • Princess Royal Drive

“Mississauga Made is a great local initiative that supports our small business community. During these difficult times, more than ever, we need to stand together and support our entrepreneurs and our local businesses”, said Bonnie Brown, Director of Economic Development Office.  “During the month of October, the City has been celebrating Small Business Month, and the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre continues to offer free webinars and events to celebrate entrepreneurship and help people start and grow their business.”

The next time you visit Mississauga’s downtown, take a closer look at this important artwork and reflect on your own connection to Mississauga.

Media Contact:

Bryan Sparks
Advisor, Communications
T 905-615-3200 ext.3253
bryan.sparks@mississauga.ca

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How travel restrictions are impacting art – The Globe and Mail

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Art galleries on the brink as pandemic lays waste to plans – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Barbara Lewis and Will Russell

MUDDLES GREEN, England (Reuters) – This was to have been the year that an art gallery deep in the southern English countryside took the United States by storm with exhibitions of the extraordinary Lee Miller, a 1920s fashion model, surrealist and World War Two photographer.

Filming for a biopic starring Kate Winslet was also meant to have begun at Farleys House in Muddles Green, where the American-born Miller recovered from documenting the horrors of war and entertained guests including Pablo Picasso and fellow surrealist photographer and her former lover Man Ray.

Instead, the pandemic has put almost every plan on hold.

“It’s like a wasteland of tumbleweed,” said Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter.

She curates the Miller archive with her father, Antony Penrose, Miller’s son with the surrealist artist Roland Penrose.

COVID-19 has compounded the uncertainty created by Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU), with a transition period ending on Dec. 31. That has left galleries anxious about how complicated it might become to stage shows and transport artworks abroad.

For more than a decade, Farleys House and Gallery has averaged four international exhibitions a year, loaned mostly around Europe, accounting for roughly a third of its revenue. Other income comes from rights relating to the 60,000 negatives in the Miller archive and from visitors to Muddles Green.

This year, it was planning on seven and to expand into the United States as part of a strategy to cope with Brexit. Two have gone ahead – one in Germany, traditionally one of its most important markets, and another in non-EU Switzerland.

A third show, intended for Europe, is being shown instead to Farleys’ trickle of socially-distanced visitors, while the other exhibitions are in storage.

Such problems are shared to varying degrees by art institutions great and small as visitor numbers no longer justify large-scale exhibitions and planning is fraught.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entirety of the arts and culture sector,” said Arts Council England in an email. The body is helping to administer a government 1.57 billion pound ($2.04 billion) Culture Recovery Fund.

London’s Wallace Collection, which includes works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Titian, has also seen a 90% fall in visitors and has deferred exhibitions to next year.

“Financially it doesn’t make sense to do blockbuster shows at the moment,” Xavier Bray, director of the museum, told Reuters.

Commercial revenue from events, a shop and restaurant has dropped by 1.5 million pounds and the museum faces “a massive deficit” this year, Bray said. “Any help is going to be crucial to the survival of institutions like the Wallace Collection.”

($1 = 0.7717 pounds)

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis in Muddles Green and Will Russell in London; additional reporting by Gerhard Mey and Carolyn Cohn,; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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