Thursday, February 16, 2012

Young at art

A bust of Albert Einstein at India Art Fair in Delhi 
A bust of Albert Einstein at India Art Fair in Delhi
Apoorva Subbanna, 22, attributes her interest in art to her bloodline. Born to contemporary artist Kuppagadde Rudrappa and textile designer and art curator Seema, Apoorva grew up in a blaze of colours and designs. Four months ago, she bought a ceramic sculpture by Debashish Das - a blue and green bowl with female figurines - for Rs 30,000. That amount may sound small in the world of art auctions, but, for someone yet to start earning, it was her life's savings.

Ashish Shah
Ashish Shah has designed his house around the artworks he has bought
"I bought it with my own savings, as I really liked it. Desmond Lazaro, David Kracov and Gordon Cheung are some of the artists I look up to. Their works are expensive, but I hope to buy them some day," says Subbanna. Seema adds: "Youngsters these days are well-read and welltravelled, and are increasingly investing in art."

Her statement is backed by auction houses and galleries, whose number has been on the rise. "The market is driven by young collectors who educate and acquaint themselves with art before buying," says Maithili Parekh, India Director of auction house Sotheby's.

Curator Ina Puri, too, talks of young collectors, many of whom believe art to be a safe investment. "There is no overnight rise or fall in prices and they have been going up gradually," she says.

The art market is now driven by young collectors
First-time buyers for 40 per cent of sales at the recent India Art Fair
Visiting art exhibitions, following proper paperwork and documentation are must-do before investing in art

But profit is not always the motive. Mumbai-based architect Ashish Shah, 32, started collecting artworks when he was in school, and has not re-sold any. His house is designed around works by Sudarshan Shetty, S. H. Raza and Shilpa Gupta. Regardless of the motive, there is no doubt that art buyers are getting younger. Consider the statistics from the recent India Art Fair in New Delhi. "Of the sales, about 40 per cent were generated by those investing in art for the first time," says Neha Kirpal, the fair's founder and organiser.
Rasika Kajaria
Rasika Kajaria's gallery in Delhi showcases young artists
One of those first-time buyers is Priyanka Khanna, 30, who works with a fashion magazine and bought a piece by New York-based artist Aakash Nihalani. "I have always loved art. My mother exposed us to galleries and museums across the world as children," she says.

The bloodline worked for 34-year-old Pooja Chandra, too, albeit an acquired one. A partner with Delhi-based consultancy firm Cicero Associates, she is landscape artist Satish Chandra's daughter-in-law. Pooja's foray into the world of art coincided with her marriage, and surged with the entry of artists like Vivan Sundaram into photo prints, which are more affordable. She owns six Sundaram photo prints worth Rs 1.5 lakh and is eyeing an A. Ramachandran sketch worth Rs 3 lakh. "People inherit jewellery and property, I inherited art," she says.
A painting by F.N. Souza

Blue Painted Head, a sculpture by Ravinder Reddy, on display at India Art Fair in Delhi
A painting by F.N. SouzaJewellery has been at the back of the mind of other young buyers as well, especially the women. "Buying art is similar to investing in jewellery. One does not buy it only to sell it, and one must like it before buying," says Jaipur-based Alankrita Sharma. The 30-year-old lawyer developed an interest in art while working at Gallerie Ganesha in Delhi eight years ago. In those days, she would buy a piece from her employer and pay for it through monthly deductions in salary. Sharma has a piece of advice for her ilk: " Young collectors like me can start with younger artists, who will grow as we grow." She bought a painting by contemporary artist Maya Burman five years ago for Rs 15,000. "The artist has made it big, and the painting must be about five times that amount now," she says.

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