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


Deepak I. Shahdadpuri said...

Kapil - only wan to make one comment. I think that FN Souza's chemical alterations are probably his most important contribution. This is what he developed and gave to all us, his unique contribution to the ever continuous evolution of art. Am not making a comment on the prices in general but his best chemicals are on par with his best acrylic, oils or drawings. I personally will always pick up a good chemical.

gajanthody srinivasa said...

do you think raza (signed) canvas prints will appreciate?