Sunday, June 28, 2009

Class acts

Here is the 3rd article in my series on Contemporary art that I am writing for " Graphiti" the Sunday magazine for The Telegraph newspaper every fortnight reaching over 0.5 million readers. This article was published last Sunday and is reproduced here for you on the blog in case you missed a copy!

As I’m focusing on the contemporary art space and more specifically on the artists who have produced a majority of their works following 2000, I’ll now detail some of the most interesting artists you should take a look at. I feel they’re the best in their class, all very unique in their own way.

Uniqueness is extremely important to an artist’s work. A lot of artists now copy styles or are significantly influenced by another artist. For instance, I was looking at a contemporary art auction catalogue from Philips de Pury for their London sale and some of the similarities between works by established international artists and some new upcoming Indian ones is quite striking.

In this article, we’re going to cover an artist who’s very good with canvas, an artist who specialises in prints on a very different medium like matchboxes and an installation artist who’s also a photographer. Each has exhibited at prominent shows internationally and their work is stunning in its own way. Now let’s get down to examining these three mediums and our exceptional artists.

T.V. Santosh: He’s an exceptional artist, very humble and down to earth. His canvas works come across with nice fluorescent hues and are stunning to look at. Santosh focused on terror, terrorism and also the religious divides that exist in the world today much before other artists even started looking at such themes and his canvases portray them really well.

Now it’s expensive to own a T.V. Santosh canvas. Even in this depressed market one of his large canvases will cost you around Rs 25 lakh. He shows in the US in October and had shown in March at Grosvenor Vadehra in London. His watercolours which are in the Rs 3 lakh range are more affordable and actually, I felt earlier the quality was not as good as it is today.

I have seen stunning watercolours now but I would still recommend that you go for a smaller canvas as those are a visual treat for the senses and our rule has always been to buy the best work or the most significant work.
Scars of an Ancient Error-I

Shilpa Gupta: Photography can be classified into two fields — one is documentary photography and there’s also what I call message-based photography. Documentary photography will cover the landscapes of Ladakh, an event or an image of the sunrise over the ocean or sunset in the mountains.

Shilpa Gupta does not do documentary photography. She does installations and she’s a video artist and her photographs are usually a part of her installations. Her message-based photography is maybe the best we have in this field. But, in fact, it’s her photographs which command high prices.

She conveys important messages through her art. Take a look at her visual which has a banner running through the sky that says there’s no border here, borders are on the ground between war-torn nations and others but you can’t divide the sky! This was originally used in her installation Here There is No Border.

She has done another interesting series called There is no explosive here in which she had people carry bags wrapped in white canvas saying that there were no explosives in the bags. This was a reference to the London Underground blasts after which everyone with a bag was viewed with suspicion.

If you go through her resume, you’ll find that there’s hardly any country or museum that she has not shown in. She’s an exceptional artist and can be quite prolific. Try and get the work shown here which is in an edition of 10. There is no explosive here with a red background on a metro station is the best work in the entire Explosive series. This is an edition of six.

In fact, when I had to buy her best work, I had to buy it a long way from home at the Gallery Volker Diehl in Berlin — now that’s a real international artist. Her editioned works are priced between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh.
An untitled work by Shilpa Gupta

Prajjwal Choudhury: He’s a young emerging artist from Calcutta who studied in Baroda and he works with a very unique medium — matchboxes. Yes, your normal everyday matchboxes. He prints his own images and pastes them on the matchboxes so that they deliver a message.

He had a solo with the gallery Project 88 in Mumbai and is quite exceptional. He uses images of works by other artists and puts them on a matchbox. It’s a visual delight to watch his work and in this work, Who Will Be Next, he takes all the images that established artists have made internationally and takes a dig at them saying, it’s all the same stuff presented in a different form and that what you see today will again come in front of you just presented differently.

Prajjwal comments on this recycling of art and conveys a message that the art being shown today has already been shown earlier and will again be recycled to be shown again with some changes. His satirical approach to the recycling of art through his medium of handmade matchboxes joined tog-ether for a huge collage is unique and interesting.

Bhavna Kakar & Aparajita Jain from Latitude 28 Gallery and Seven Art in New Delhi showed him recently at a show in Delhi which got rave reviews. His work is available at between Rs 75,000 and Rs 2 lakh.

Everything has been done before but we like to go back and begin all over again

In our next article, I will discuss some more of our contemporary stars who are redefining our art landscape.


mukund said...

Hi Kapil,

I have been following your articles in the telegraph quite regularly and I find them interesting and informative.Infact i read anything i get on art and regularly visit galleries - both online and the ones based in Kolkata or whereever i am travelling.

My humble suggestion to you is if you could also tell us about young artists who are priced anywhere between 5K and 25k and who you feel have good potential- ofcourse with your reasoning as to why to buy them.

Would also request you to let me know about any short courses available in art appreciation/art selling/valuation available in India (like the ones offered by Sothebys' in Singapore ,London & N York)


Mukund Subba

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Mukund,

My apologies for the delay in responding. I really appreciate your interest in art, keep up your study.

The one request I have is that dont keep a budget like that in your mind, you will make a mistake,your criteria is to buy the best work in a show, consult more people and be the first one to buy as the good works will fly off. The galleries also have costs so buying till 25 k for a substantial work is difficult, make it 50,000 at least.

I would recommend that you write to on their website, they had a fantastic class show of the best artists passing out of Baroda college after their PG, I picked up an installation at 50,000 and that could have been 2 lacs even today or look at Generation Next 4 at Aakriti Art gallery,google the artist, study his style, as these are all new artists, price will be less than a lac and maybe you will like someone who has immense potential !

Keep on reading this blog !

If you go to earlier posts, you will see my comments on Shreyas Karle at 10,000 but buy what you like and with price logic !

mukund said...

Dear Kapil,

Thanks a lot for your advice.

Was also waiting for your advice on short term cources on art appreciation,art valuation etc available in Kolkata.



workhard said...

I have no idea about photography.. i am learning a lot here.. Thanks for putting up all this info..

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