Canvassing for Indian art

Did Falling Bull’s sale for Rs. 17.5 crores at the Christie’s auction in Mumbai topple your hopes of ever owning art? Fear not for innumerable priceless yet affordable artworks are waiting to adorn your home.

Tyeb Mehta's Untitled (Falling Bull), 1999, at the Christie's auction in Mumbai.

Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled (Falling Bull), 1999, at the Christie’s auction in Mumbai.

This has been an exciting week for Indian Art. Christie’s, the world’s biggest art auction house, held its second auction in India on 11th December, 2014. The sale total was INR 75,27,45,000, with 70% of the lots selling above their high estimates. Artists whose works topped the sales were Indian art masters like Tyeb Mehta, Francis Newton Souza, Vasudeo S Gaitonde and Ram Kumar. The sale was all about the giants, the artists whose works are safe investments and even some works from ‘India’s National Art Treasure.’ In the same week, a new art portal opened shop – www.huesnstrokes.com. The platform’s raisons d’être is to showcase India’s vibrant untapped talent.

“The Indian art scene has been dominated by few artists, who are aggressively promoted across India and abroad. There is a plethora of talent in India, unfortunately, many artists are not able to reach out and the art world remains monopolised by a few, making it (art) highly expensive and unaffordable,” stated the press release by huesnstrokes.com. So, while it is a matter of pride that Indian art is now selling for crores of rupees, the fact remains that majority of Indian artists are struggling in anonymity. Considering only a few hundred people can afford to snap-up paintings that cost crores, sites such as huesandstrokes.com certainly have a worthy cause and an eager market. Founded by Anita Wadhwani and artist Akshay Verma, huesandstrokes.com aims to bring forth young new talent, especially from smaller cities and economically weaker sections.

Music instruments by Apet Pramod, available at huesnstrokes.com

Music instruments by Apet Pramod, available at huesnstrokes.com

The Christie’s sale in Mumbai had a special section where Indian artists like Atul Dodiya and Subodh Gupta donated their artworks to raise money for Khoj International Artists’ Association. Among them was Dayanita Singh’s offer to get a family portrait done by her. The winning bidder paid Rs. 18 lakhs for the honour. A similar opportunity is offered by huesandstrokes.com, which allows people to customise art, wherein the customer can pick an artist from the portal and a painting can be tailor-made as per their preferences: from size and colours to the budget.

While huesandstrokes.com is new and currently offers works by about 110 artists, there are other websites where you can also find a good mix of Indian art. Indianartcollectors.com offers artworks from new artists as well as the established like Manjit Bawa. Here you may find something you like for Rs. 25 lakhs or even Rs. 25,000. Fizdi.com is another interesting site, which allows you to browse paintings according to shades, sizes and even rooms. If you’re looking for a painting in dark shades to complement your décor, then you can simply browse the available works in those shades. If you’re looking for something for your office, you can go straight to artworks sorted by Fizdi as appropriate for a workplace.

Paintings bring new life and personality to a room. Whether it costs you thousands or crores of rupees, a painting on your wall is a statement of class and culture. Most people at international auctions are investing and pay as much as it takes for a ‘blue-chip’ canvas. But one never knows which new artist will be tomorrow’s Tyeb Mehta, and surely each generation will produce its doyens. So, follow your instinct, pick a painting that speaks to your soul, and perhaps one day it could fetch you a ransom amount at an international auction too!