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April 2009, Newsletter

January 2009, Newsletter
  Lead Story - Value and Effective Evaluation
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January 2009, Newsletter
Lead Story - Value and Effective Evaluation

The second half of the year with continuous threat of bomb blast in the capital heart of the country, followed by downwards slash in the market has produced uneasiness and skepticism regarding the once booming art market as well. The anxiety regarding the effect on art market is expected but the downfall is little hyped. As to quote one of our esteemed buyers, they believe that in the present state of uneasiness in making investments in other assets, art proves itself to be a valuable alternative. Even in the west, the art market is observed to have borne profits amid the financial crunch: Quieter Frieze art fair still exceeds expectations, though may not on the one’s expected or in the way expected. However, there is some impact of the present scenario on the art market.Something has happened… and we in our cover story would pitch at few points randomly at the scenario of the credit crunch; on the way we were looking at a work of art; making choices and validating our collections.

There are few things that one needs to reflect while looking into the process of validation. Who decides and how is it decided, what to buy and what not to buy? After the transactions are done, where do most of the artworks go? Do Indian buyers have the confidence to make decisions on their own, independent of the market fervour? How is the phenomenon of proxy buying affecting the market?

Perhaps the answer begins by asking oneself about how different we think an artwork from other objects or commodities. The Indian art world has shown considerable expansion in past decade, in terms of galleries, buyers, art writers, and art lovers; but the thought on how far have we come as a potential industry is an unfinished enquiry haunting many attached to the art spectrum.

Laxma Goud, 2007

Fore mostly, validity of a work of art as a good work is not primarily depended on just the prices determined by the auction houses, but is also modulated by taste among buyers, response from the media, critics as well as several cultural institutions. Then there is not just the economic value that determines the value of a work of art but there is also something called the represented value of art, which is often least discussed or realized. As an independent gallery we realize the value of taste for we come across people from different taste to the closest. Even though bought and sold, art has a value larger than a commodity. A commodity can be reproduced and repeated to fulfill demand and once consumed its over. But art, even in repetition has an evolving or displaced meaning attached to it, there can never be a final assessment or consumption of a work, it is never finished, in that sense. The meaning may change, with the change in the context, but it will continue to produce one. And, moreover, today market is such that nobody can manipulate the market in their own right for the reason that the art audience is becoming wider, more comprehensive and aware.

But however, in the present scenario, there are two threats that produce unfavourable market turmoil: fake buying and proxy buying. The cold slash in the market has in a way warned us to reassess our ways of choosing and buying works of art.

The fake buying can be discouraged by buying authentic works of art from reputed sources, with a recognized authentification certificate and a hologram. But proxy buying is a larger phenomenon that can be resolved only with awareness and experience. Though Indian audience has nuanced its understanding about contemporary art, we need to reassess, from time to time, why we choose a particular artist over the other artist.

Mithu Sen, 2008

Most of us visit the auction sites to determine the prices and to know about good artist with sound profile and bright future. Auctions houses are not the only sources to learn about high- ranking and significant artists as there are many good artist with strong conceptual bearing and noteworthy profile and experience. All auction houses of art have an underlying taste of their own, which might match or might not match with your view. Buying something primarily for name will not be a sound acquisition. One must visit various venues of art display, see books, shows, or even visit artist studios to know more about their works, style and concept. Moreover, one must always insist on looking at the work of art in physicality, on-line buying may produce a collection without feeling or may lead to fake buying. By visiting the gallery and looking at works of art, one can ensure both the quality and originality of the work. Also, increased interactions with galleries and consultants can help one learn more about the artist or the art world as such.

While choosing a work of art, another important factor is that of its quality and availability. As a buyer one must know, from which period of life of the artist as well as the time, does the work belongs to. As mentioned, each work has its own economic, cultural, personal and conceptual value that is affected by the age of the artist and the circumstances in which the works are produced. An artist can produce a varied style of work or may evolve his or her style over a period of time. This needs a considerable observation to note how your work of art is valuable and significant to the life of the artist and time frame.

S.H Raza, 1975

However, generally speculations regarding future of art market are difficult to make. This has however encourage us to do balanced purchase from a confident source. Lately, there were speculations that modern artist have lost their market in face of the younger artists. However, the crunch seems to turn the tables in favour of the masters for the reason that perhaps the prices of the works by senior artist had not gone down but the younger artist had raised double, triple folds, shifting the focus away from the senior artists. However, their prices have been least affected since the last year, this time they prove to be a good pick as the senior artist’s works are available with not much margin difference from last years. Also interestingly, innovative art, new media art as well as photography are fine available alternatives at sensible prices.

Krishen Khanna, 2001

An effective Art market is with effective buying, when people buy what they really like and admire and don’t get influenced with general pattern. In a diligence like ours, where regulations are minimal, offers are lucrative and many collect art merely for quick profit; the time has come to react to art and built collections in a sharper manner, where we are not just engaging with work of art superficially but actually buying what we value and in process enhance our liking and collections. The sudden rise in the market culture had in a way threatened a clear, intelligent feeling that art produces. It’s time for us now to reflect and make qualitatively serious and thoughtful choices and purchases.

Photograph by Golak Khandul

Lead Story - Value and Effective Evaluation
By Shiwani Bhardwaj