Saturday, November 19, 2011

India Art Collective - India's Online Art Fair - A perspective

Dear Friends,

I am posting on the blog after a long time !

Well here is my frank take on The Indian Contemporary Art scene and more importantly on India Art Collective, India's first online art fair which opened to the public recently.

I surfed the entire online fair and found it indeed a great initiative in the Indian art scene.We had the VIP online art fair in the US and although the VIP art fair had its share of technical glitches, it still has impressive galleries in its upcoming second edition.

Coming back to the India Art Collective, Sapna Kar who has done some key charity auctions around the country and Swapnil who I know from her earlier days at The Oberoi, are the two people who introduced me to the concept. I liked the idea a lot because I firmly believe that the future is online. Speak to any important gallery with top end programming and most of the business gets conducted online.

Dinesh and Minal changed the game of online art sales with maybe the only successful predominantly art auction website, Saffronart when others had failed internationally to sell art this way. The success of Saffronart inspired many and I have always used their auction archives to research price movements in the Indian art space.

What Sapna and her team have done is brave by any standards, they have not only convinced the galleries to join in an online art fair but also tried to introduce price transparency in a market which has no clue on pricing to say the least. I see so many same pieces by artists, same sizes, nearly the same quality and the galleries have differential pricing !

But that should not discourage you from surfing the art fair online.So, take out some time and travel through a journey of Indian Contemporary art as nowhere will you get a range as diverse as this in terms of genre or pricing points.

All, I can say is that there are some great deals available from the galleries who have got it right and then there are some galleries who have just no clue and the works are priced incorrectly.

I liked quite a lot of shows online, my favorites are Gallery Ske and Vadehra Art gallery, nice works and it made me go back again to have a look.

It is important that galleries and artists learn that if they sell 2 works in a year, then that is not the true value of their work and in a transparent medium like this they maybe tempted to price higher until unless you are an established artist or gallery and completely secure about your price.

So do no hesitate to ask for a discount, send an email or make a call !

Overall, very refreshing and a very nice initiative, so do log in NOW !



Kapil Chopra is Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.He writes a blog on collecting and investing in Indian Contemporary Art at 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.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Collective Metamorphosis curated by Kapil Chopra at Nature Morte,New Delhi

Dear Friends,

Well, after a successful opening of The Oberoi, Gurgaon which opened in April and kept me busy for the last 6-8 months, I am back on the art scene with even more enthusiasm.

The hotel has already made into the the nominations for "Hotels to watch out for" for the World's best new hotel awards to be announced in Las Vegas in August.

In these 6 months absence from the art scene, an art initiative supported by me has grown from strength to strength and now sold over 200 works in 10 months.

The aim for the initiative was to remove two key bottlenecks in collecting contemporary art which was price and access, so price was a key point and access was that you look at the work in high resolution from over 700 artists and have the work shipped to your home.

The idea was to have people collect art and even gift it to each other, anything that increases the collector base in this country!

So here we are, celebrating the first anniversary of with my first show as a curator and opening at one of India's most prominent art galleries "Nature Morte" called Collective Metamorphosis which opened on the 23rd of July at 7 PM.

Some details of the show and my opening notes for all the readers of this blog, please do visit the show as the show is on till 1st of August, everyday from 11 AM to 6 PM except Sundays.......

I am a collector but not a curator!

I start with this line as it reflects the philosophy behind this show. I am a collector, I love Indian Contemporary Art and believe it has enriched me in more ways than one. I am not a curator but deeply concerned with what is happening in the world of Indian Contemporary Art.

I believe we need to make art more accessible both in terms of price and ease of access. This will not only encourage artists but also attract many more individuals to engage and collect art.

This was one of the key reasons for establishing, an art initiative in which we gave an opportunity to every artist to load his best 5 works and sell to collectors. Today with over 700 works loaded and over 180 artists, Best is India's largest art initiative and has sold over 200 works in its 10 months since inception. All works expire in 6 months so the content is always fresh and you can buy online to have it delivered to your home.

Peter Nagy gave the initiative a head start last year when he curated the opening exhibition "The Present is Now" which opened to rave reviews.

"Collective Metamorphosis" was a title which took a long time for me to decide. Finally, I titled it so because I knew all the artists displaying in this show for over a year. We had spoken to each other, discussed the inspiration behind the works, their personal motivation, agreed and disagreed on many points in this journey. In this entire interaction, we contributed to each other's learning and enriched ourselves as artists and a collector. Collective Metamorphosis is our journey through the trials and tribulations of Indian Contemporary Art and our take on the art that you will see.

My only brief to all the artists was to do what they do best and not confine them with a theme, as a theme can sometimes restrict. I believe that when 5 distinct individuals with their own unique approach to art will present the works of passion that they have created, there will be a linkage which will then come through on its own.

Paribartana Mohanty was first seen in a major show at where his Oil on canvas works were picked up by collectors even before the show started. Paribartana picks up his characters from people around us and then presents his own interpretation of them. The characters come out from the canvas with hues of black and dark shades in the background. The oil on canvas works are powerful, well executed and haunting in their own way, never fading from your memory.

Deepjyoti Kalita epitomises the influence of Baroda school of art to me, challenging the boundaries and pushing the envelope with each work. He does wall mounted installations and kinetic works, so each work has significant movement and the effect on the viewer is much more than a static painting. His characters are generally caught up with a choice that they need to make in life. The works always create a disbelief when they are viewed by collectors as he tends to surprise with lighting and kinetics.

Kumar Kanti Sen quit a lucrative job heading the design function for a top company and followed his passion for art. He is one of the most passionate and committed artists I have seen and someone who experiments continuously with all the mediums. His paper works are vibrant, have a flaming intensity and draw you towards them. I have always felt a certain energy in his works and in parts I feel like the characters he draws so meticulously are on fire.

Gopal Samantray has a take on the rapid urbanisation where cities are now expanding beyond the boundaries and infringing on forests and living spaces of animals. In his works, the animals come into urban spaces as their natural habitats are eroded by urban spaces. He paints a satirical image of leopards and tigers coming out of the forests and into our homes for no fault of theirs.

Tauseef Khan has worked his way up, installing some of the best shows for some of the biggest names in the world of Indian Contemporary art and still not losing that fire within to paint a new landscape. He paints images of Delhi's monuments and gardens seen through a wine glass, a comment on how we view our culture and heritage. The approach to his works is refreshing and the paintings are distinctive.

I am just a collector and someone who appreciates the finer things in life which includes working for The Oberoi Group. I have learnt a lot in my journey through the world of Indian Contemporary Art and enjoyed putting this together.

I hope you enjoy viewing this show at Nature Morte till 1st August or online at



Kapil Chopra is Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.He writes a blog on collecting in Indian Contemporary Art at 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.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lasting Art Impressions of 2010 !

Dear Friends,

Here are the 3 artists who impressed me the most in 2010, they are unique and distinctive in their own way and at values which are reasonable. Do check them out as they make it to my top picks for 2010. This is a copy of the article published in The Telegraph newspaper's Sunday magazine "Graphiti" and reaching close to a million readers.Comments are welcome !

As another year draws to a close, I sit back and reflect on the artists who impressed me the most in the last 12 months.

They all come from different backgrounds and different cities but they have one thing in common; the intensity and drive to do something different. They’re all unique and distinctive in their approach.

The first time I saw the works of Deepjyoti Kalita was at Latitude 28 run by Bhavna Kakar, who still holds the record for showing at least one artist every year who impresses me with his work and style. Kalita obtained his Bachelor’s in 2008 from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda, and followed it with a Master’s in Sculpture from the institution two years later and won several awards when in college.

Kalita, who was part of First Look 2010, does what I call wall mounted installations — the works hang on a wall like a normal painting but have moving images. And he works with an electronic engineer to complete them.

I was most impressed with the image of a man on a bench moving between a gas mask and a man with a typewriter in a glass jar. At the click of a button, the man moves as does the light behind him. The work is stunning in its visual appeal and yet its message of being caught in a situation and unable to decide is haunting. I also like his other works, the key being his use of technology to convey a message and at the same time working with traditional watercolours and outlines. I was most impressed by the amalgamation. Large scale works from him, sized at a minimum of 3ft by 5ft with all the circuitry, were priced between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 1.8 lakh.

The Incompetence Of Being Complete by Deepjyoti Kalita

Another artist who caught my eye was Paribartana Mohanty. I was told about his works by Peter Nagy from Nature Morte who was curating a show for and scouting for some great fresh talent. He ended up with seven top picks and they all made it to his record-selling show The Present is Now on, an online initiative for great art at reasonable prices.

When I first saw the works I was impressed by the fact that they were all very intense and oil on canvas which is rare nowadays as you’ve to paint layer by layer and wait for the paint to dry. All six works in the show sold before the show opened, taking me back to the 2007 days when works would sell before the exhibition formally opened. The difference here was it was happening for someone who was virtually unknown and only due to the brilliance of his work which was spotted by a top curator.

Mohanty was then featured as an artist to watch out for by art critic Johny ML in his Sandarbh residency. While he was there, he was declared the artist of the year by FICA and won India’s top art prize. That award gave him a three-month residency to hone up his skills in Switzerland and a solo show at Vadehra Art gallery. Watch out for him — he’s one of the most impressive artists that I have seen in recent times.

Paribartana Mohanty’s work Bandwala, Then And Disco

Another artist to look out for is Saad Qureshi, based in London. He finished from The Slade School of Fine Art with a Master’s in painting. Qureshi shot to fame as he was among the six finalists for the reality TV show by Charles Saatchi, chosen from thousands of applicants. London’s Aicon Art Gallery, managed by the very experienced Jag Mehta, spotted Qureshi’s talent before he became well known and he had a solo again with Aicon post his reality TV success in London called Disappearing in Yesterday.

Saad is exceptional in his treatment but the painting which impressed me the most from his solo show was Via Dolorosa which shows railway tracks set in a barren landscape that disappear into the distance. They fade away and the imagery used with Urdu inscriptions between the railway tracks gives quite a contrasting feel — soft dialect in a hard landscape. He also uses texture to great effect and the subtlety of his work is breathtaking. Again a body of work which makes you ponder as there are no answers — but you see what you perceive.

Via Dolorosa by artist Saad Qureshi

So these are the three artists to keep in mind all working in different mediums — from wall mounted kinetics to deep oil on canvas — all ending with subtle touches and taking you on a journey which promises more but can’t be seen!

Kapil Chopra is Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.He writes a blog on collecting and investing in Indian Contemporary Art at 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.