Saturday, February 28, 2009

Artists to buy in these times - Part 2

Well, its been quite some time since I updated my blog, just tied up and hence the delay in coming with a new post. Here is my second list of recommendation after the first post where I recommended that you put your money in acquiring Thukral & Tagra, Seher Shah and Shreyas Karle across various investment limits. Well here is my list on where I would put my money next and why......

  1. T.V Santosh -30-40 lacs category- Exceptional artist,humble and down to earth. During the height of the bull run in the art market went for over 2 crores for a diptych. Currently showing at Grosvenor Vadehra in London and the prices are around 42 lacs for a 5 by 7ft paintiing, this work would have been close to 80 lacs six months back, his values are close to hitting a bottom and he enjoys universal appeal with both Indian and international collectors. I don't own a work but would love to buy one close to 30 lacs, the price he went for in the last Saffronart auction. Don't buy his watercolors and just go for nice works on canvas like the one shown below. His series on the terror theme that he has been doing for sometime is definitely worth buying into. So if you have the money, go for a TV Santosh canvas !


  2. Shilpa Gupta-3-5 lacs Category - Exceptional photographer and actually its nit scenic photography but photography which conveys a message. She did this lovely series on " There is no border here " where she displayed a message tape in white colour with this sentence against the backdrop of the sky, it was a nice satire on how could there be a border in the sky and also on conflicts in the real world on borders. She did a lot of pieces but the backdrop of the sky was really the best and it went for around 10 lacs in the Saffronart auction, the rest of the works in the series were quite mediocre and a lot of them are still available. Her other interesting series was post the London metro blasts in which everyone with a bag was viewed with suspicion especially with an Asian lineage, so she had people on a metro station with white bags saying"There is no explosive in this " and getting out of a car or on the street with a white bag holding this message. Considering the focus on terrorism in the real world, I believe it is a very important body of work in today's context and will find its way into important collections and museums around the world. The most stunning piece to be bought is either go for the sky background in the border series or the red work shown here in the "There is no Explosive in this". The price range for this would be around 5-6 lacs for these 2 works and others are available at around 3 lacs but again buy only the very best and avoid the rest. The current Saffronart auction has some of the works but not these two so no point bidding !


  3. Mehreen Murtaza -60,000-80,000 category - The new breed of Pakistani artists pushing the envelope in terms of creative work in the art space is currently growing by the day. Mehreen is an exceptionally talented artist and she does these lovely prints priced at around 60-80,000 the last time I checked for a size of around 12 by 24 inches and edition of 10. Mehreen is an artist who has immense potential in the long term although I believe she should look at restricting edition sizes to less than 6 and do larger prints. Look at her work at a great art gallery run by Umer Butt in Lahore, Mehreen showed in India with Farah Siddiqui in Mumbai also but her latest body of works is available at, the only problem being buying out of Pakistan, so easier to buy out of Dubai and a star on the horizon. Look at the images of the series she has done here to get an idea of her potential and at these values you really cant go wrong !


Well, next time lets look at the Saffronart auction results (some great works especially NS Harsha but overall a really mediocre auction line up, at least 7 artists have works which are poor enough to be not even selling in a show forget being part of an auction catalogue) and let me talk to you about how some artists have positioned themselves well and how some got carried away in the bull run, failed to build relationships and need to learn to be playing for the long term !

Till then, enjoy reading, keep the comments coming and have a great day !

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Should new collectors be buying Souza,Hussain and Raza ?

This is going to be quite a controversial post but then this blog has never shied away from discussing controversial topics. We also have a strong viewpoint of our own and as they say "Only dead fish swim with the stream", here is my take on buying the moderns.

Before I really started collecting art, the only name that I could always relate to was that of M. F.Hussain, everyone has heard of him and he really is an iconic artist. The moment you start reading you hear of S.H. Raza and F.N. Souza and then you see the works. What happens in the real world is that you really want to acquire a work from one of the three and declare finally to the whole world that you have arrived and are now an art collector in the big league.

One of the most high profile CEO's of a leading travel company was having a discussion with me and we started talking about art, now he is no art buyer with price research and having made some good money on property deals went ahead and bought a Hussain work for close to 10 million. Now, his art gallery based in South Delhi was telling him to buy another artist who I think is terribly overpriced but trust some galleries to do this. I can give you 5 more examples of people I know who have been conned in buying a high priced work of the famous trio.

Now, for all new collectors, this is the first thing that I would like you all to stay away from. There are reasons for this and some of them are as given below...

  • Most of the new collectors would not know the period as to when these great artists produced the best works like Souza was at his best in the 1950's and early 60's, Raza works post 2002 do not compare well with his earlier works and so on. Most likely you would not get a significant work and actually be given a work which is not from the best time period at astronomical valuations. So develop that discerning eye, read some more before you sink in that 30 lacs to a crore on a work.

  • Most new collectors buy to talk about it and announce that they have arrived on the scene, also with a con story that they hear as to how the values would double.

  • A lot of older collectors who entered at 10,000 to a lac would try and convince you to buy at much higher prices showing some auction records and make a killing selling it at a higher price. Remember their acquisition price is really low and they would be making a 1000 % profit.

  • Souza made thousands of chemical drawings and at the height of the boom they went for 5 to 6 lacs for a small work, real value is close to 50,000 if you really like the work.So there is no demand -supply equation here, there are scores and scores of works available.

  • As an advisory blog, we cover investments till 30-35 lacs at the maximum and in that price range ,your chances of getting a good quality work are quite bleak in the modern space especially of the famous trio.

So please pass the work on, why start collecting with an unfair advantage, buy some good contemporary art, if you still have the money and convinced about the Moderns, then please buy a nice VS Gaitonde or a Tyeb Mehta, they have been much less prolific and clear my aesthetic and also my investment logic. Otherwise please buy a nice Hussain print for up to 50,000 and enjoy the print signed by him, there are enough options available in the print section both for Hussain and Raza, prints are both on paper and canvas for Raza.

So if this post helps some of my friends not getting conned into buying insignificant works just to acquire a name then we have achieved our goal of educating our base of new collectors and for my friends who have already made this mistake, try and enjoy the work !

Happy Reading ! and get ready for my next post on "Artists to buy in these times - Part 2"

Went to the Khushi auction yesterday, very well organised, excellent audience, great cause and lovely people, some excellent art and some was quite average but the cause is great. I bid on the TV Santosh which was lovely but the investment limit was 12 lacs and it went for 18 lacs plus tax which crossed my investment threshold, so no matter how much you like the work, the key is to be disciplined. I think Khushi as a NGO has done a wonderful job and I look forward to many more of such events and also as a hotelier supporting such events.


Kapil Chopra