Saturday, August 14, 2010

Paradise Lost

Dear Readers,

My latest article in The Telegraph, Sunday edition reaching over a million readers, comments as always are welcome. Do log on to www.bestcollegeart.com, an initiative supported by me among others. We believe it gives the power to every artist to reach out to an aspiring collector and it is not for profit ! More on that in the next post ! I love Veer Munshi's latest show on Kashmir, maybe a bit too apt for the current developments in Kashmir !


When it comes to the creativity, I believe no place in India is as synonymous with art as Calcutta — the history, heritage and culture of the city are all redolent of art. Some of the most important galleries which started supporting Indian art long before people really began buying it, like CIMA, have been based here. But for the last few years, a lot of Contemporary Art events and also some of the most important shows have not been happening in the city. However, that looks set to change — especially with significant art initiatives like the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA) coming up in the city.


Shrapnel-Detail from Chamber, an acrylic on hand made paper pasted on board, by Veer Munshi


Other harbingers of a pick-up in activity are that India’s only gallery selected for the prestigious Frieze Art Fair in London, Experimenter, is from Calcutta. And I take heart about the art scene in the city from looking at the programming of key galleries like CIMA, Akar Prakar, Aakriti and see how everything is changing.

Also, what intrigues me is that a senior artist who has spent nearly all his painting career in Delhi and is originally from Kashmir, should go to Calcutta for his monumental solo show. But then, that’s the intrigue and mysticism of Calcutta in the art world. Veer Munshi, opens his show on August 3 at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, curated by Ranjit Hoskote.

I had the opportunity to preview Veer’s show and you can see that the slightly older school in the Contemporary Art space follows the rules in what goes into making great art. The works are a reflection of the current times in Kashmir and Veer’s journey over the years in a place that he loves so much, where he grew up and that are all about breathtaking scenic beauty and “paradise on earth”.

His photographic series on “Pandit Houses” is reminiscent of the Hindu Brahmin architecture, but the desolate and dilapidated houses also point to the stark reality of the migration of Kashmiri Pandits who had to leave these magnificent homes behind due to terror threats. Veer travels around Kashmir to capture these haunting images of majestic houses just left as ruins in the beautiful landscape.


Pandit House, a photograph on archival paper, by Veer Munshi


Veer also draws your attention to works like Shrapnel that reflect the pain and angst of a generation caught between terrorist organisations and the government. That’s a sad reflection on what is happening in Kashmir today from someone who has lived half his life there. The works will strike a chord as it is art that reflects on the political and social equation and emotional trauma in Kashmir — all captured in Veer’s works and through his lens.

Turning away for a moment from Calcutta, another interesting initiative which has just been launched online is Bestcollegeart.com. Every year over 1,200 artists graduate from art colleges and only a handful of them make it to top galleries. Most abandon their dreams and due to financial constraints their talent comes to naught.

But now they are getting a new platform. Bestcollegeart.com is a collective initiative by some of India’s top art collectors, curators and gallerists to give everyone an equal opportunity platform to display and sell their art. (I must state a vested interest here as I am involved in supporting this initiative).

It’s not for profit and it allows any artist while in college or even someone who has graduated as long as a decade ago to load up to five works at prices decided by the artists. The quality of the art and the prices are reviewed by a curatorial board which urges the artists to price the works right so that collectors can buy.

We see excellent quality work uploaded by artists like Ashis Mondal, who paints a shirt which has been spoilt by ink leakage. This is actually a satire on the fact that a careless leakage without protection can also lead to AIDS.


A Little Negligence by Ashis Mondal

I always hear ‘we love art but can’t afford the prices’ and ‘how do we know that what we buy is authentic’. Well, the average prices on this site are below Rs 20,000 and no work can be priced over Rs 99,000. There are even works for as low as Rs 1,800.

The key is for all of us to support art in our country — either by visiting events or by acquiring art which is within our individual budgets. So whether it’s attending a heart-stopping show by Veer Munshi or supporting an online art initiative that could give you something very affordable to brighten your walls, this monsoon season is all about living with art!



Kapil Chopra is Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.He writes a blog on collecting and investing in Indian Contemporary Art at www.indianartinvest.blogspot.com.He also writes for The Telegraph Newspaper in the Sunday magazine " Graphiti" every fortnight. In Delhi, he writes for "The Mail Today " Newspaper and the "First City" Magazine.

15 comments:

anangsen said...

Kashmir is a mess! Not least because the leftwingers and the media play right into the hands of the Islamofacscists, and go to town weeping over the 'injustice' of the retaliation against stone-pelting hooliogans. What is one supposed to do to such hooligans? Feed them biryani as reward for making a mockery of the law? Who fed anything to the Hindus who were pulled out of buses and shot point blank until they all fled Kashmir?

I wish you the best of luck with your brilliant initiative in making more work accessible to more people, and all of this under a professionally guided atmosphere! I am sure you are going to advertise it enough.

Anangsen.

shiva said...

In contrast to the above comment, I would be circumspect about this new venture. Not because there is anything wrong with it's intentions, but one has seen too many of these things start-off with a bang and then fade-away in a fizzle. Upon visiting the site of bestcollegeart, one got the feeling that it banks too heavily on Peter Nagy's curatorial abilities. In the past, some of Nagy's shows were undeniably of a very superior quality and ushered in many new energies. This is a fact. But those were different times when he was the lone crusader in a sea of housewives-turned-gallerists, and he had an almost exclusive command over the best artists. Today, the scenario is very different where he faces competition from perky young things brimming with ideas and excitement, and a lot of his artists have either flown the coop of nature-morte or have been literally shooed away. In the last two years or so, one does not remember any particular stand-out exhibition from Mr. Nagy, and in fact it was a shock to see some exhibitions absolutely lacking in any curatorial direction and content. Just pairing together random artists together, without any emphasis or discernment is not exactly curation. One cannot help but feel that Mr. Nagy has expanded beyond his limits and is consequently spread out a bit too thin over all his various enterprises, which is a real pity because he has very good instincts and is perhaps the hardest working gallerist in India today, directly responsible for almost all of the successful names of the current crop of artists.

One wishes Mr. Nagy luck and a timely course-correction. Here's hoping that Peter Nagy does not himself get 'Peter Principled'....

anangsen said...

Hi Shiv,
When we spoke about this earlier, I had no idea that you would soon transcribe the entire telephonic chat into a scathing post! Lol.
However, as I did then, here too I shall both agree and disagree with you. I will disagree because at the time Nature Morte expanded its scope, there was a flourishing atmosphere and this was the trend amongst all the major galleries. The demand for art was at an all-time high till then, and there simply wasn't enough supply to go around. So expansion was rather justified and sensible. The unexpected worldwide economic crash took everyone by surprise, but to his credit Peter Nagy still kept on very actively participating in major international events etc. This shows his commitment and his drive which is way above that of his competitors.
However, the economic bust did leave us with some valuable lessons about falling standards and haphazard 'art', and perhaps it is this which is still proving to be a thorn in the art scenario's resurgence. As such, I take your point that Mr. Nagy, along with everyone concerned with art, should be more discerning and even a bit ruthless about quality control. Art is extremely personal and does require a close hands-on management, which perhaps gets diminished under rapid expansion. One hopes that your biting post will be read by the right people, before they fall victim to the 'Peter Principle'.
Try not to be so dishearteningly gloomy about Mr. Kapil Chopra's efforts though. His is a non-profit thing and should be encouraged with good suggestions.
Anangsen.

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Shiva,

I am surprised you say that the website banks on Peter Nagy. He us just one of the people curating one of the many shows on the website and also a key mentor on how we could run this without failing and falling down.

It took me and other supporters 9 months to work this concept out and honestly we thought we would fail as online art buying is still coming of age.

The advantage we all have is transparency, the ability to walk away from making money and obviously our marketing skills honed in our current jobs.

To help us with the fact that we do not go beyond investing the seed capital, Glenfiddich which runs an art program out of Scotland and also a residency for Indian artists ( Valay Shinde and Anirban Mitra have been there) stepped in with a sponsorship.

In the first month, according to Google Analytics, we have had 12,000 page views and already over 4 lacs of sale, leaving us cash flow positive in a major way to spend more on marketing.

I think it has been worth it when Ishwar Gurung an artist based in Aizwal sold a work he painted in 1998 to a Delhi based lady who reached out to us, he will take 4 days to even access the work before our logistics supplier picks it up, and all this for 10,000 but he is thrilled that he has sold. We have in the last 10 days now sold 9 works and now struggling to make sure we deliver on time.

Gopika Chowfla, the most reputed designer in this space has done the website design, Bluehorse and CMSS who also power some of India's top online initiatives have powered this.

It may flop going ahead but with the firepower, I doubt it and then someone had to do it my friend !

The aim is to bring the artist and the collector together, we are not shipping currently out of the country as not geared to do so but a Geneva based collector has bought 3 works already.

So, spread the message to your friends and all, support Indian Contemporary Art !

Yes Peter is a star, but you need to have substance to make this work, just read about how we do it, with self loading, self pricing, curatorial board at the back and all money going back into art and I am sure even you will be converted !

Cheers

Kapil

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Shiva,

I am surprised you say that the website banks on Peter Nagy. He us just one of the people curating one of the many shows on the website and also a key mentor on how we could run this without failing and falling down.

It took me and other supporters 9 months to work this concept out and honestly we thought we would fail as online art buying is still coming of age.

The advantage we all have is transparency, the ability to walk away from making money and obviously our marketing skills honed in our current jobs.

To help us with the fact that we do not go beyond investing the seed capital, Glenfiddich which runs an art program out of Scotland and also a residency for Indian artists ( Valay Shinde and Anirban Mitra have been there) stepped in with a sponsorship.

In the first month, according to Google Analytics, we have had 12,000 page views and already over 4 lacs of sale, leaving us cash flow positive in a major way to spend more on marketing.

I think it has been worth it when Ishwar Gurung an artist based in Aizwal sold a work he painted in 1998 to a Delhi based lady who reached out to us, he will take 4 days to even access the work before our logistics supplier picks it up, and all this for 10,000 but he is thrilled that he has sold. We have in the last 10 days now sold 9 works and now struggling to make sure we deliver on time.

Gopika Chowfla, the most reputed designer in this space has done the website design, Bluehorse and CMSS who also power some of India's top online initiatives have powered this.

It may flop going ahead but with the firepower, I doubt it and then someone had to do it my friend !

The aim is to bring the artist and the collector together, we are not shipping currently out of the country as not geared to do so but a Geneva based collector has bought 3 works already.

So, spread the message to your friends and all, support Indian Contemporary Art !

Yes Peter is a star, but you need to have substance to make this work, just read about how we do it, with self loading, self pricing, curatorial board at the back and all money going back into art and I am sure even you will be converted !

Cheers

Kapil

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Shiva,

I am surprised you say that the website banks on Peter Nagy. He us just one of the people curating one of the many shows on the website and also a key mentor on how we could run this without failing and falling down.

It took me and other supporters 9 months to work this concept out and honestly we thought we would fail as online art buying is still coming of age.

The advantage we all have is transparency, the ability to walk away from making money and obviously our marketing skills honed in our current jobs.

To help us with the fact that we do not go beyond investing the seed capital, Glenfiddich which runs an art program out of Scotland and also a residency for Indian artists ( Valay Shinde and Anirban Mitra have been there) stepped in with a sponsorship.

In the first month, according to Google Analytics, we have had 12,000 page views and already over 4 lacs of sale, leaving us cash flow positive in a major way to spend more on marketing.

I think it has been worth it when Ishwar Gurung an artist based in Aizwal sold a work he painted in 1998 to a Delhi based lady who reached out to us, he will take 4 days to even access the work before our logistics supplier picks it up, and all this for 10,000 but he is thrilled that he has sold. We have in the last 10 days now sold 9 works and now struggling to make sure we deliver on time.

Gopika Chowfla, the most reputed designer in this space has done the website design, Bluehorse and CMSS who also power some of India's top online initiatives have powered this.

It may flop going ahead but with the firepower, I doubt it and then someone had to do it my friend !

The aim is to bring the artist and the collector together, we are not shipping currently out of the country as not geared to do so but a Geneva based collector has bought 3 works already.

So, spread the message to your friends and all, support Indian Contemporary Art !

Yes Peter is a star, but you need to have substance to make this work, just read about how we do it, with self loading, self pricing, curatorial board at the back and all money going back into art and I am sure even you will be converted !

Cheers

Kapil

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Shiva,

I am surprised you say that the website banks on Peter Nagy. He us just one of the people curating one of the many shows on the website and also a key mentor on how we could run this without failing and falling down.

The advantage we all have is transparency, the ability to walk away from making money and obviously our marketing skills honed in our current jobs.

To help us with the fact that we do not go beyond investing the seed capital, Glenfiddich which runs an art program out of Scotland and also a residency for Indian artists ( Valay Shinde and Anirban Mitra have been there) stepped in with a sponsorship.

In the first month, according to Google Analytics, we have had 12,000 page views and already over 4 lacs of sale, leaving us cash flow positive in a major way to spend more on marketing.

I think it has been worth it when Ishwar Gurung an artist based in Aizwal sold a work he painted in 1998 to a Delhi based lady who reached out to us, he will take 4 days to even access the work before our logistics supplier picks it up, and all this for 10,000 but he is thrilled that he has sold. We have in the last 10 days now sold 9 works and now struggling to make sure we deliver on time.

Gopika Chowfla, the most reputed designer in this space has done the website design, Bluehorse and CMSS who also power some of India's top online initiatives have powered this.

It may flop going ahead but with the firepower, I doubt it and then someone had to do it my friend !

The aim is to bring the artist and the collector together, we are not shipping currently out of the country as not geared to do so but a Geneva based collector has bought 3 works already.

So, spread the message to your friends and all, support Indian Contemporary Art !

Yes Peter is a star, but you need to have substance to make this work, just read about how we do it, with self loading, self pricing, curatorial board at the back and all money going back into art and I am sure even you will be converted !

Cheers

Kapil

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Shiva,

The advantage we all have is transparency, the ability to walk away from making money and obviously our marketing skills honed in our current jobs.

To help us with the fact that we do not go beyond investing the seed capital, Glenfiddich which runs an art program out of Scotland and also a residency for Indian artists ( Valay Shinde and Anirban Mitra have been there) stepped in with a sponsorship.

In the first month, according to Google Analytics, we have had 12,000 page views and already over 4 lacs of sale, leaving us cash flow positive in a major way to spend more on marketing.

I think it has been worth it when Ishwar Gurung an artist based in Aizwal sold a work he painted in 1998 to a Delhi based lady who reached out to us, he will take 4 days to even access the work before our logistics supplier picks it up, and all this for 10,000 but he is thrilled that he has sold. We have in the last 10 days now sold 9 works and now struggling to make sure we deliver on time.

Gopika Chowfla, the most reputed designer in this space has done the website design, Bluehorse and CMSS who also power some of India's top online initiatives have powered this.

It may flop going ahead but with the firepower, I doubt it and then someone had to do it my friend !

The aim is to bring the artist and the collector together, we are not shipping currently out of the country as not geared to do so but a Geneva based collector has bought 3 works already.

So, spread the message to your friends and all, support Indian Contemporary Art !

Yes Peter is a star, but you need to have substance to make this work, just read about how we do it, with self loading, self pricing, curatorial board at the back and all money going back into art and I am sure even you will be converted !

Cheers

Kapil

Kapil Chopra said...

Dear Shiva,

The advantage we all have is transparency, the ability to walk away from making money and obviously our marketing skills honed in our current jobs.
To help us with the fact that we do not go beyond investing the seed capital, Glenfiddich which runs an art program out of Scotland and also a residency for Indian artists ( Valay Shinde and Anirban Mitra have been there) stepped in with a sponsorship.
In the first month, according to Google Analytics, we have had 12,000 page views and already over 4 lacs of sale, leaving us cash flow positive in a major way to spend more on marketing.

I think it has been worth it when Ishwar Gurung an artist based in Aizwal sold a work he painted in 1998 to a Delhi based lady who reached out to us, he will take 4 days to even access the work before our logistics supplier picks it up, and all this for 10,000 but he is thrilled that he has sold. We have in the last 10 days now sold 9 works and now struggling to make sure we deliver on time.
Gopika Chowfla, the most reputed designer in this space has done the website design, Bluehorse and CMSS who also power some of India's top online initiatives have powered this.
It may flop going ahead but with the firepower, I doubt it and then someone had to do it my friend !
The aim is to bring the artist and the collector together, we are not shipping currently out of the country as not geared to do so but a Geneva based collector has bought 3 works already.
So, spread the message to your friends and all, support Indian Contemporary Art !
Yes Peter is a star, but you need to have substance to make this work, just read about how we do it, with self loading, self pricing, curatorial board at the back and all money going back into art and I am sure even you will be converted !
Cheers
Kapil

anangsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anangsen said...

"...and then someone had to do it my friend !"

and I am glad that you did!!!

All the best to you again,
Anangsen.

Kapil Chopra said...

Thank you, Anang !

shiva said...

I too wish this venture the best. However, I cannot repress a comment about how we all ultimately allow ourselves to fall to the law of diminishing marginal returns.

No one can take credit away from NatureMorte for all that it has achieved, whatever it may be now.

Let us hope that this new idea will keep at bay the temptation to grow too big too fast. Sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way...@KC....did not really intend to. Just spoke my mind, maybe a bit too much ;)

red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
geoffrey said...

Hello Kapil.
Could I have an email id of yours?I picked up a MF Hussain painting/sketch( 1985 Horse series) in 1991 in India and would love to know something about the price of this painting now. How can I get this done.?
Thanks.
Geoff Magee.