Saturday, April 18, 2009

Young Artists and Valuations !

Well, I think the last few days have been really satisfying for me, I would first like to thank, Nivedita, Anangsen and Fine arts for 3 lovely comments on my last post, it is really fantastic for you all to take out the time and post such detailed comments, encourages me more to keep on with this blog. We have now crossed over 1,000 unique visitors and with only word of mouth referrals and I see 30 new visitors on an average. If you have the time please click on the comments section on my last blog and go through the comments, they are better than this blog !

Also, there is an interesting discussion on Indian Art News on blogs and we have been featured there and most people have appreciated what we are doing except one who was not happy with our leanings towards contemporary art. The key thing here is that if you read through my first post, it very clearly mentions that we are a contemporary art blog, we are not tracking moderns as we choose to do that, we are clearly focused in our approach and our area of interest. Also we are advising people to put in money and the maximum is 30 lacs and you don't get a nice Hussain or a Souza canvas for 30 lacs, so its beyond our investment purview, also personally and this is a pure personal opinion, I know enough people who had their parents buy the Moderns at 1 lac to 5 lac range and I don't feel like investing ( don't forget we are an investment advisory blog not just an art critique or review blog ) with such an unfair disadvantage where I pick it up at 60 lacs ! So please if you follow the moderns or in the specific case of the discussion on Indian art news where a dealer took exception to this, please do not follow the blog as we have nothing to contribute to the modern space and neither will I advocate putting in money into the moderns as I cannot comment outside the scope of this blog.

So here we go, let me discuss 3 artists on this blog who I think are young, smart and exceptional in their own ways. They have very good galleries backing and have a great future hopefully but I have a few points to mention on how far I see them going, in my opinion all of them have had huge pricing issues and are grossly overpriced. Now my comparison is going to be with some auction prices and that sometimes do not represent the true picture, like a 6 by 6 T&T canvas in Saffronart went for 14 lacs in the last auction ( really not a nice work, it was part of a series and the seller just put one part in an auction so there was no appeal and the price crashed ) and in Sothebys in late september in the financial meltdown when only 19 out of 31 works were sold, they went for over 1 crore in the best of Asia catalogue. So now, when I can choose a good work, I know I can pay 25-30 lacs for it. At the end of the day you will make your own rules and I can guide you through it, the quality of work is also very critical but look for it when it is similar and then compare prices.Also, artists evolve over time and some series will always attract a premium, so you will be dead if you compare Dislocation from Rashid Rana to the "Veil" series, I will happily pay a 100 % premium for "Veil" and not buy Dislocation ever ! It went for 6 lacs for a 33.5 by 45 inch work and a work from the series "Veil" would be at least 40 lacs for this size or more ! Here I go with my take on 3 artists I love and a comment and discussion on their values, we will look at many more cases like these in the coming days.....

Gurusiddappa G.E -Represented by the Sakshi art gallery, what a lovely solo show he had, please go into the past exhibitions section of to view his show. Excellent hand,content and really nice works but expensive for a young emerging artist. He featured in the last autumn Saffronart catalogue at an estimate of 8 lacs to 9 lacs for a 5 feet by 6 feet work, so that is 30 ft and at Rs 30,000 per square feet it is quite steep, give me his work any day at half this price for 4,50,000 to 5,00,000 and I am a buyer for an artist who I believe is exceptional in his handling. Arvind Vijaymohan of Japa art advisory was the first person who mentioned to me have a look at his work more than a year back and I was impressed. Guess what happened at the Saffronart sale ? the work did not sell ! although a lot of people liked him. Now pricing is very relative thing and it always pays to be conservative.

Aditya Pande - Exceptional artist and works very differently from the rest, he uses the computer to full use with graphic lines, merges them with enamel paint and the finish of an inkjet to really come up with stunning pieces. Backed by solos with Alexia Goethe in London, Nature Morte( part of a 3 artist show) by Peter Nagy and then Chaterjee & Lal in Mumbai. He has the best galleries representing his exceptional talent and that has made his prices rocket to as high as 10 lacs for a work.Again, the prices for someone who has just come on to the scene were getting carried away, I know a very good friend of mine had bought his work at 1.5 lacs and now it was at 10 lacs and over so he exited the work as all this happened in 18 months, too fast a time for someone who is producing works quite regularly and still has many more years ahead of him. So, what did we have in the recent Saffronart auction, we had a 6 ft by 3.5 ft so a 21 ft work for an estimate of 7-9 lacs so an average of 40,000 per sq ft for a young artist in a market which has crashed, well guess the result, the work got sold at 4.84 lacs plus buyer premium, so close to 40 % lower than the median estimate of 8 lacs. Again, the market was too heated and the valuation bizarre to be getting in for anyone ! His last solo show in Mumbai was marked at 7.5 lacs to 8 lacs, I think.

George Martin PJ - He had a waiting list of maybe 3-4 months to even get his work in a resale, very nice looking works and his appeal was huge, his solo show at Palette was sold out even before it opened with people just waiting to get a canvas. He is again an artist who is magical with colours and to have and view a George Martin canvas is a pleasure ( I own a lovely George Martin canvas). He generally works in a 5 by 5 ft format and started a couple of years back at 2 lacs for a canvas, last year the rates were as high as 12 lacs and they were moving a lac every month in the frenzy ! so you had a big line but no one could buy as works were limited. His rise always puzzled me as he never had a top league gallery backing him,when I say that it does not mean that Palette is not a top league gallery,but I always saw his works in all these group shows very couple of months, generally gallery contracts are very strict for you to give works to other galleries. So he was a good marketing guy who sold his works well through all these group shows and still made it big in a world where a singular gallery backs you to the hilt and you get higher visibility. I do think he got carried away with all that and his artist prices also kept on getting revised every month, till it came down faster than the rest of the pack as some speculators exited. He is now available at around 6 lacs and that is close to the right price for him so a good 50 % correction from his price 6 months back.

So here is my take on these talented artists and my disclaimer is,please assume that I have a vested interest in all I say as that will make it easier for you if you disagree with me !

Do keep on posting all those great comments !


Kapil Chopra


anangsen said...

Hi Kapil,

My thanks once again for taking up the gauntlet and furnishing us with a highly interesting, and 'hatt-ke' blog. I absolutely loved your three-part illustration of the 'typical over-hyped artist coming down to earth in the correction/recession' phenomenon. Also valuable were your personal insights peppered all throughout, and it is clear that you speak from understanding as well as passion.

Noted also was your re-emphasis on contemporary as opposed to the moderns, and that should correct a few misgivings people might have had about 'personal biases and deliberate market manipulation'.

I look forward to your next blog eagerly.


anangsen said...

Kapil, I hope that you do not mind my adding a few links which I found interesting and wanted to share with you and others. Do check them for some new works from India and Pakistan. Very exciting:

Nivedita said...

Must say...this article is quite an eye opener for beginners like me. I consider myself fortunate to be able to witness such market fluctuations for artists...there is so much to learn :))

However I do much of it is the Artists mis-calculation/fault if his/her market falls when their portfolio's are being handled by so many different promoters/buyers/collectors etc? How does the artist determine what is realistic price vs hyped pricing, specially in case of emerging artists...I thought it was about going with the flow, trusting your promoters word?

I'm new to this...I'm just trying to understand...ignore my questions Kapil if you find them irrelavent at this point of time :))

Shall come back for more on your blog. Totally love this source of information :))

And yes, thanx a bunch for mentioning my name on your blog.


anangsen said...

Hi Nivedita,

Even with my limited exposure, I feel that an auction can well be likened to a feeding frenzy at times. Hardly the yardstick for sane price-points, but unfortunately still so considered. Having said that, I would still urge one to follow auction results, but over a period of time rather than just on a few particular incidents. That might be helpful in getting an idea about the 'trend', if not even the actual pricing. As brought out in the blog, where auctions have artificially boosted the price of certain artists, they have also worked to correct them at times. Perhaps the key factor is time, which allows for the growing maturity of new and eager players (collectors, artists, and also dealers) to get real. Hence, my suggestion to follow these results over a longer period of time before coming to any conclusions.

To my mind, the benefits of an auction are that they DO give us an idea of the relative worth of works, and they give an opportunity to collectors for acquiring works outside of the 'preferred client' system of the gallery mafia which might not have given them this access earlier.

As for emerging artists, it is key that they work with reputable and mature gallerists who will take responsible decisions on their behalf. How do they price them anyways? Well, I suppose the initial pricing has to be based on gut-feel and a developed instinct, and thereafter it is a case of demand, supply, quality, brand-building, and so on. It is sad that unique works of art have to be at the mercy of market forces, but this also tests the basic integrity of the artists and to what degree they choose to succumb to these forces.

A 'work of art' is truly a wonder as it requires so much to really come about, and I suppose all these factors also go in making it a thing to behold.

My ideas above are based only on my limited exposure, so if anyone can help us here I would really welcome it eagerly.