Sunday, January 25, 2009

My views on the Best Galleries and websites !

I have often been asked on how do I really get the information on all the artists, the shows and the galleries, so here are some of my secrets on doing that from the comfort of your home and also my honest views on some of the galleries I have worked with.

Now, I can afford to be brutally honest as this is not a commercial venture, I am not recommending any gallery, telling you to buy another artist, not building a halo around me for being an art critic and so on, I am an art collector, read a lot about art, have some very good friends who are more knowledgeable than me on this subject. I just learn from them, merge it with my acquired knowledge, use my experience of other asset classes and then give you a real frank opinion of what's happening in the art world and how you can be a savvy collector.

Well, before you start reading this, be very alert when a gallery tells you that this is an artist you should hold for 7-10 years as that means even they don't where the artist is going, 7-10 years as you will forget about the work even if the artist stops selling. Look at art history, some of the top names of 1990's just vanished after the first crash and so collectors are actually sitting with art that has only aesthetic value. I have just heard so much of this illogical gibberish that I am honestly fed up, why would you put in 20 lacs and then just forget about it in the name of building a collection ? ! What this does is that it gives people enough time to at least con you more and make the neat packet they make.

Buy a work you like, research the artist, look at the gallery promoting, enjoy the work, contemplate on the future of the artist, a right gallery makes sure the artist is seen and shown in the right galleries and promoted well.Also even from an investment perspective don't buy to flip as you will then fail and may be caught on the top of the pyramid with no buyers at your price. I read up tonnes of material on an artist before I make the buying decision and speak to some really intelligent people for their views on the artist and then use my own judgement. Have I still made mistakes ? Yes ! I have and I will dedicate a complete post to that later, you will end up laughing your guts out on how I approached buying art.

Well here are the top 3 galleries that I really like as I love their attention to detail, the artists they represent and also their presence on the net so people like me and others can check it out. I will also give you a couple of galleries who are well regarded but have real poor presence on the net, they don't believing in sharing information and have outdated websites, but collectors swear by them, so please visit them in person, my take is that please close down your website if you cannot update it, why the formality !

1. Sakshi Gallery - Located in Colaba, Mumbai, they are one of the most professional galleries I have worked with, they will post all the images on the website, are quick with the responses and have some of the top artists represented. Have good young talent that you should watch out for in Gurusidappa and Anirban Mitra, I bought the Anirban from them and it was a pleasure working with them. Both Geeta & Usha are really nice people in this space and run a tight ship.Visit them at

2. Nature Morte/Bose Pacia- Peter Nagy runs Nature Morte in New Delhi and he is undoubtedly a very influential figure in the contemporary space. In the art boom, a mere mention of an artist by him would lead to a sold out show. They had the worst website that could ever be designed and now thankfully have revamped it with a great website, you know all the future shows, images are updated in time and its a delight to surf it. This is a must visit website as you get a fair idea on whats happening in the art world and also because they are really good at what they do. Visit them at and you can also check out

3.Kashi Art Gallery - Anoop and Dorrie run this lovely gallery and last year celebrated 10 years of running the gallery. They have represented some of the brightest stars on the Indian art scene and their Kashi award given every year to promising artists is close to a sure shot sign of going ahead and buying the artist. I bought some Shreyas Karle works for them and in all fairness they would not send the images to me but were insistent on putting them online at 6 PM that day so everyone had an equal chance to see and buy. Do visit their website at and track the Kashi awards in September every year.They take their art very seriously and that is why its a pleasure to work with them. They could improve on their website though.

Now the 2 galleries that can really improve, Gallery Chemould is one of the most respected galleries in the art world, please visit the website and you will see that works available has not been updated for months, an email for a request to update had a very polite response of them not doing it on the net, they why have a presence ?

Gallery Ske, again very well respected in new age media and very different art from what you generally see but exhibition images are never updated on time, although they have a very good archive section of past exhibitions. Now, for a new media gallery to be not good in this respect is not really understood and also never got a response to an email that I sent so best of luck with them !

Enjoy your art but please read and consult your gallerists and advisors before you buy anything. Also if they tell you this 10 year story, you know where they should be going ! and then their are always better ways to lose money !

Till, my next post on the 31st, have a great time !

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Art, Commerce and Galleries !

Well, that is a quite a different title from my last one which was which artists should you buy and collect !

Thank you for all the emails, considering that maybe only 20-25 people know about the existence of this blog, it was nice to get a response from nearly every one including some celebrities in my dictionary ! Well, if you are a key stock market speaker on CNBC and reading this blog, its quite flattering for me. Also some of the most important people in the Indian art space have been more than encouraging.

As more and more people know about our small existence, I thought for most of the new collectors or aspiring collectors, its important for me to share some views on the commerce of investing in art so you know what you are really paying for the art work.

Gallery Commissions - If you are coming in from any other asset class, be prepared to get shocked as you are used to paying 1-2 % as transaction charges or brokerage, in art gallery commissions are a minimum of 33 % to 50 % ! so if you pay 2 lacs for a work that you have acquired then 66,000 to 1 lac could be the cut for the gallery and the rest goes to the artist. Now this is fine when you are paying 2 lacs, it gets better for the galleries when you are buying a painting worth 25 lacs, as the gallery takes in 8 to 12.5 lacs as its commission. The question that new collectors may ask is that are these mark ups justified, well, I think in some cases they are, running a gallery is an expensive business, with retail space, cost of catalogues and collateral if you are running it right. The problem is that most of the galleries have no curatorial content and they basically get the works on a consignment basis so they are showing over 100 artists and happy selling 2 to 3 works per month. Serious galleries have to spend money on discovering, promoting and marketing an artist, have lesser shows and hence they deserve the 50 % mark up, they would happily give you a 10 to 20 % discount if you are buying regularly. So remember this when you buy a work, hence it is even more critical to research the artist and the gallery before cutting a cheque, as otherwise you may have a work that looks nice but has no asset value as no one will buy it. In these times, the best of galleries are maybe selling 2-3 works a month and even with 50 % margins,they are not breaking even on costs,liquidity or the lack of liquidity in this market is also a key factor gallery commissions. If you are re selling a work through a gallery, the general norm is 10 % of the sales price as gallery commission and could be lower for big ticket sales.

Galleries are important to showcase art and also discover new forms of art and hence it always makes sense for you to track what key galleries are doing, I will give you that list in my next blog with my frank opinion on websites you should visit to look at how people are shaping up the art space.
Auction Houses- They are another source of buying and selling art, Christies, Sothebys, Artcurial, Philips De Pury are some of the key international auction houses and Saffronart being my pick in the Indian space and even the international space. Minal & Dinesh Vazirani have re defined this space and definitely go to and explore the website. My favourite sections are Previous Auctions,Collection of the month and also Collector's Corner which is updated on the 1st of every month. Auction houses will typically charge you a 10 to 25 % buyers premium over your price and take 10 % as sellers commission if you are selling the work. International auction houses will charge extra on a lot of small charges so please be extra careful if you are selling something. If you like something, then it is a great place to buy due to attractive prices, proven authenticity and exhibition record of a work.
Well, I hope this gives you a fair idea on the commerce of buying and selling art and do let me know if you have any questions, you can email me at, leave a comment here or on my page at

Enjoy your art !

P.S - the next blog post would be a critical take on India's top Galleries and some of their websites that I visit regularly.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Artists to buy in these times ! Part 1

Here is my list in all categories of artists that I would like to buy, enjoy and invest in. The key principle is to enjoy the art you buy, you should like it and that's important, secondly you should buy it at the right value and last, buy art that is investment worthy. Do not buy art recommended by the bored housewives club (80 % of all art galleries in India qualify in this category ), look at the background of the artist, education, inspiration for work, gallery promoting the artist and where all has that art been shown. As most of the people who will follow this blog when I release it open for public viewing be new or fairly new art enthusiasts, hence I will restrict the values to under Rs.30 lacs to start and start with Rs.10,000.So here is my top pick in each category to start with....

(Sominum Genero)

  • 30 -35 lacs category - I just love these guys, they are the most intelligent artists I have ever met, they research in detail as to what they would like to paint and then follow the theme through. The works and installation look nice, have a theme and they have international collectors lining up for their work. They have shown at key fairs like Art Basel, FIAC and others and were in the news recently with their show at Mori Musuem. Wallapaper magazine ranked them among the top 101 designers in the world and they are Thukral & Tagra. They are my top pick in this category, for the level of international interest they generate, their art and the logic behind, make them great artists to buy. In the Asia Contemporary Sothebys sale where only 19 of the 31 lots sold, their work went for over 110 lacs when some top Indian artists failed to sell, that is not a criteria but just a comment. Their interesting work on AIDS, Somnium Genero ( dreams ) and Bosedk are some of the key series that they have worked on. Difficult to get a work of theirs, till you are on the collector list of Peter Nagy and gallery Nature Morte( Pricing is for a 6 by 6 work in the primary market, they have had a work at Saffronart sold for less but according to the artists it was a part of a series and should not have been sold on its own.


(Black Star)

  • 3-5 lacs category - This is a great category, its affordable and if you like her art, then I believe in some years she will be in the above mentioned category. She is one of the young stars on the horizon, very talented and has already shown at Art Basel, her work was sold out at Armoury and at Fiac in October. Her work has been placed at the world famous Musuem of Modern Art ( MOMA) in the US and she recieves rave reviews from all art critics, Seher Shah as a notable art collector says is a "superstar". She is known for her drawings and her prints, I like both, the thing to die for her are her large prints around 60 by 36 inches in her series on Jihad Pop and Projective 1 & 2. Visit her website and for her work details and do buy her if you can get any of the sizable works. The work shown above is a series of smaller works under the name Black Star, I like the bigger works which will be priced now at around USD 8,000 to 10,000 whenever they are released, the size for the older works was around 60 inches by 36 inches and they were sold between USD 3,000 to 5,000 but none available now.


(Har Darwaze Pe Likha Hai Rehne Wale Ka Naam)

  • Rs.10,000 -20,000 - Yes, you read it right ! you can start investing and buying art that you like even at this value and it is investment worthy. Shreyas Karle has won the Bodhi award and then followed it up with the Kashi Award for a promising artist, passing out from Baroda, he is quite refreshing in his approach and again very intelligent. I have been following his work for long and was very impressed with his award winning show " Har Darwaza pe likha hai rehne wale ka naam" at Kashi art gallery ( All the doors have an identity in these limited edition works and are smiling or dancing, very quirky and nice works, the show opened recently and I remember Dorrie telling me that it was sold out in 3 hours ! Works were sold at 10,000 each and I believe he is someone to watch out for in the coming times. The size was 11 by 15 inches and with 2 Artist proofs plus 7 editions.

These are the artists who according to me are in the best buy category even in these recessionary times and more so now because you may not get good quality works at the prices that you can get them now at. Two out of three come from Nature Morte/ Bose Pacia due to respect that I have for Peter Nagy and the work that he has done to promote Indian contemporary art. Although in my last blog post, I did not agree with their pricing on Hema Upadhayay who is terribly over priced, also over producing and in my avoid category for the time being. My next blog will highlight some other artists that I really like, are international in their appeal and collector base and have the potential to achieve greater heights.

Ardent art lovers and collectors may get upset with my obsession on commercal aspects of buying art but this as the title suggests is "indianartinvest", I will always tell you to buy what you like and enjoy but at the right price and most important it has to be investment worthy i.e. should have potential for appreciation in the future.

Disclaimer- Please assume that I may have a vested interest in promoting these artists and may own some of the works mentioned here. Please acquire these works only after due diligence and consultations with your art advisors and gallerists.

Enjoy your art and keep on reading !