Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 | Last Update : 10:52 AM IST
Every gallerist feels happy about selling a work of art. But what if they sell almost all the works on display This was the status of at least two galleries at the recently concluded India Art Fair. And there were many more that saw more than half their works picked up by buyers.
Globally, the art market has appeared to be entering a cooling-off period recently, but IAF presented a totally different picture. Compared to last year, this edition was bigger and bolder, and opened up new opportunities for upcoming talent with newer buyers/collectors coming into the picture. “This year the aim was to strategically position IAF as the prime South Asian fair, keeping in mind what the Indian art ecosystem needs but also what the market in India requires — an innumerable set of forces both internal and external had to perfectly align in order to give the boost that the art fraternity has waited for over the last few years,” says Neha Kirpal, founder and director, India Art Fair. She adds, “The 2016 edition, fuelled by partnerships with stakeholders across the board, has been able to incorporate these essential factors and the emphatic results have effectively rebooted the contemporary market with sales beyond expectations to collectors both old and new.”
Thomas Erben, director, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York shares, “This is the first time we represented a solo artist at the fair and the response has been phenomenal. We have sold four pieces of Yamini Nayar’s (artist represented by the gallery) work and have received queries for more.”
He adds, “This is the first time we have got such a good response. And it is clear that the market is now taking photography and the value of the medium more seriously in India. ”
This time, many galleries have gotten new buyers from the Middle East, shares Priyanka Raja, director of Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata. “We have sold almost every work showcased and many from our catalogue also. What is more surprising is that we have got new buyers from the Middle East for the first time. Another surprising element was when people asked us about the other artists the gallery represents and showed interest in viewing their works too, which were not part of this show.”
Talking about new buyers, Shireen Gandhy, Director, Chemould Prestcott Road, Mumbai states, “This year, India Art Fair has seen significant global art world influencers, whose presence here is demonstrative of the way the world is responding to the contemporary Indian art scene. The level of sales and new interest throughout the fair on day one, signifies a second life for contemporary art in India. The fair has outdone itself with new introductions particularly to non-resident Indians and international collectors, while also giving me the opportunity to get focused attention from key local patrons with whom I only have a remote interaction through the rest of the year. This, in turn, has resulted in important acquisitions.”
Another gallery that did exceptionally well is San Francisco-based gallery Hosfelt, that showcased a solo project by artist Rina Banerjee. “This is our first year at the fair and we have been very impressed, selling work within the first few hours. It is better produced than many other international fairs. We have sold a work worth Rs 7,50,000 and there are more deals in the pipeline,” shares Todd Hosfelt, the gallery’s director.
According to many exhibitors, upcoming artists and affordable art stole the show. One of the booths that saw the maximum footfall and transactions was the one titled ‘Pichvai — Tradition and Beyond’. “We have sold a lot of work in the bracket of Rs 15, 000 — Rs 30,000,” shares a representative at the booth and adds, “The initiative was to revisit and revive this art form and make it accessible to a larger group of people. Since the price point is not so high, the work had many takers at the fair.”
Shobha Bhatia, director, Gallerie Ganesha says, “This year we saw a raise in the number of takers for upcoming and young artists. We also sold a canvas by young artist Mohan Singh at our booth worth Rs 1,75, 000.”
Elaborating on the point that the fair opened up the art market for the coming season, Anu Bajaj, director, Art Positive says, “This is a good beginning for the art market. I believe most of the participating galleries saw a surge in sales. We have also sold quite a few works from our booth. This time, we ensured that we also kept smaller works by artists like Seema Kohli and the response has been tremendous. The price point has been very nominal, starting from Rs 85,000 to 90,000 per canvas.”
Masters are not far behind, and though galleries preferred not to talk about the price point associated with works by eminent artists, they were happy to share that many artworks were picked up. Sangeeta Raghavan, director, Art Musing says, “This year, we had a solo booth showcasing recent works by S.H. Raza. On display were around 15 works of his and we have sold seven out of those, which is a phenomenally great number.”