India`s art market impresses foreign galleries

New Delhi: Foreign galleries participating in the India Art Summit for the first time are "impressed" by the "educated art market" and the large turnout. Many even brought down the prices of their paintings to "suit" the Indian tastes.

"This is the first time we are participating in the art summit here and frankly, before coming here we didn`t know what to expect. But I am very happy to say that the response has been absolutely great," Christian Dorey of the Arteria gallery from Montreal, Canada, told reporters at the summit.

The art summit has grown in size over the years. As compared to 54 in the last edition, a total of 84 galleries from 20 countries are participating in the Jan 21-23
third edition at Pragati Maidan here.

The number of foreign galleries participating has gone up from 17 in the last edition to 34 this time.

"Because we didn`t know what to expect or what kind of art work Indians would like, we brought a variety of work. So you have a few classical paintings, pop art, prints and others. What I was sure of though is that our art work should be accessible and affordable to all, so we brought down the prices," said Dorey, who is an artist himself.

For instance, a painting priced at Rs.73,000 here is priced almost double elsewhere, like New York. Most other paintings were priced around Rs.30,000 on. The most expensive piece - a pop art on Elvis Presley that is already sold - was priced at Rs.90,000.

"Art should be accessible. I am an artist and nothing is more pleasing than to realise that my work can be taken by as many people as possible. We have already sold six pieces and many people said they were pleased with the price range," Dorey said.

An official of the Robert Bowman gallery of UK said that she was impressed to see a very "art educated" market here.

"Although we do have clients in India, this is the first time we are participating in the summit. So the aim really is just to introduce ourselves here and get our work familiar. But we are very happy with the response and am impressed to see an educated market," she said.

The Robert Bowman gallery showcased sculptures by various artists.

"There are many students coming and talking to us about the sculptures and sharing their interpretation about the pieces. One student had a very interesting mathematical interpretation about a piece which actually never crossed my mind," the official said.

An interesting art work in the exhibition space of the Stark+Granit gallery of London was one with an Indian connection - Mahatma Gandhi.

"Carlo Pasini is a Milan-based artist who does a lot of pop art and iconic images. This art work titled `Afterlife` depicts the face of Gandhi and it`s made entirely of pins on board. It`s an iconic image," an official of the Stark+Granit gallery told reporters.

Another interesting art work was that of Francesco de Molfetta. The piece was that of a blister pack of Prozac, an anti-depressant, in which one pill was replaced by a miniature form of a couple, depicting the everyday stress of modern life.

"Our art medium is quite familiar in Europe, but it`s new in India. Therefore work like that of Francesco de Molfetta is getting much attention here. The level of interest is impressive," she said.

The curator of Tokyo`s Tamura Akio Gallery said: "I am happy with the response. People are very curious with our work, that of mixed media in acrylic boxes."

A number of foreign galleries said they were happy to participate in the summit for the first time and get an idea of India`s art market.

"Our prices are high...2,000 euros (over Rs.120,000) I can understand that the Indian audience would like to be completely sure before they buy our work. This is the first time that we are here so we are just happy to get ourselves familiar to the Indian audience," the official of the Stark+Granit gallery told reporters.