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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Art Connoisseur Amrita Jhaveri On The Commercialisation Of Art Collection In India

  • IWB Post
  •  December 5, 2018

Amrita Jhaveri, one of the most well-regarded art collectors in contemporary India, made her foray into art collection with an untitled work by Girish Dahiwale which left her absolutely smitten.

In a recent interaction with The Indian Express, she recollected how it all started. Amrita shared, “My collection officially began in 1998 with an (untitled) work by Girish Dahiwale. I had a little bit of disposable income and I put it into buying this one work. I didn’t have my own home then. I was living at home with parents and I was working, but I was just so blown away when I saw that piece that I felt I have to have it.”

She further shared how art in India was regarded way differently when she started collecting as it was untouched by “the shadow of the art market” back then. “Collectors were not collecting for financial reasons. The financialisation of art is something that I’ve seen happen. Previous to that, people who bought art didn’t think of investment, of selling. There was no such awareness or conversation. It was collecting for pure aesthetic pleasure,” said Amrita.

She added, “Collectors were not collecting for financial reasons. The financialisation of art is something that I’ve seen happen. Previous to that, people who bought art didn’t think of investment, of selling. There was no such awareness or conversation. It was collecting for pure aesthetic pleasure.”

Amrita feels that over the years the aesthetic and emotional value of art has been struggling to keep up in the race with numbers and in this blatant commercialisation of art, the entire of idea art and its meaning has been lost somewhere. She explains, “It’s really important for contemporary collectors to go to galleries and support the primary market. In these auctions, we all seem to be driven by numbers and values, and sometimes we lose sight of what this whole thing is really about.”

The Indian art market suffered a major blow in 2008 in the great financial crisis. Since then, there has been this commotion that suggests that the contemporary art market suffered such a harsh blow that it hasn’t recovered even after a decade.

When asked if “the bottom has fallen out from the contemporary art market” since the crash of 2008, Amrita answers, “The bottom didn’t fall out. It went back to where it should have been. In those years, there were all these different players, corporatised galleries like Bodhi Art Gallery. They were primarily businesses, not passion projects. They came in, with multiple locations and they just doubled the prices of the works of art.”

She adds, “They were selling Subodh’s works for millions. He’s still a working artist. He might make 500 more works. You can sell an Amrita Sher-Gil for millions because supply is less than demand. So the elements that were external to the art ecosystem came in and messed it up. In a more normal, mature art ecosystem, you would have lots of galleries and a few auction houses. Here it’s the opposite. It’s very top heavy. To me, it seems very fair that artists of Subodh or Atul’s generation should get USD 50,000 or 100,000 for a work.”

Contrary to popular belief, Amrita feels that the crash, in fact, restored the balance and to understand the corollary one needs to “look at it as a whole.”

“Look at where modern art prices are, where the contemporary and emerging art prices are. Obviously there needed to be a correction. We don’t need it to spike, we need it to grow, and the growth needs to be gradual so that it can sustain itself,” says Amrita.

H/T: The Indian Express

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