Indian contemporary art market focus of Spanish art fair


New Delhi : The economy may be struggling to cope with the slump in the market, but Indian art has managed to hold its own, especially on the global stage as India will be the focus of an international art fair in Spain. India will be the guest country and the market highlight of ARCO-Madrid 2009, one of the most prestigious international contemporary art fairs in Europe, being held Feb 11-16 in Madrid, the Spanish capital.

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“India is the special guest country at the 28th edition of the fair. The extraordinarily dynamic Indian market will be showcased in the panorama section, featuring 13 galleries and 50 artists,” Lourdes Fernandez, director of ARCO-Madrid, said at a press conference here Saturday.

The fair on an average logs 190,000 footfalls and is covered by more than 3,200 media representatives from around the world.

Fernandez said since the fair was turning its spotlight on emerging markets once again, the Indian art cache, “Panorama India”, curated by leading contemporary artist Bose Krishnamachari would be a useful tool in promoting Indian art in the international market.

The curator, said ARCO-Madrid organisers, will give European investors and collectors an overview of the current art scene in the country.

In July 2008, a market valuation index by the prestigious French consultant Artprice, presented an overall growth of 323 percent over the last 10 years within the contemporary art segment.

The growth, said Artprice, was destined to continue.

Artprice statistics said of the top 500 artists (born after 1945), who generated the highest auction sales between June 2007 and June 2008, 45 percent were from Asia. Figures cite that while 170 are from China, 19 are from India.

According to Neville Tuli, chairman of the Mumbai-based auction house Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art, the gloom had only served to purge the art market of poor quality art and distil it.

“Only good and quality art is being sold now because the top segment comprising 15 artists has remained untouched,” he said.

Organisers of ARCO-Madrid said the constant appreciation in value of its artists and the rise in the number of private collectors have made Indian art one of the most promising focal points for contemporary art in the 21st Century.

A study by ARCO-Madrid attributed this market surge to two factors – while younger artists were seeing rise in prices and were visible in international auctions, the gallery space was also seeing a boom in recent years.

Though largely centred in New Delhi and Mumbai, “new galleries and independent art centres were being created all the time in upcoming markets like Bangalore and Kolkata”.

“By selecting India as the guest country of this edition, the organisation has recognised the role of Indian contemporary art in the international art scene. As a curator, I can say it will place the major trends in Indian contemporary art on a single platform,” curator Bose Krishnamachari said.

Krishnamachari, who started his curatorial practice in 2003 with BombayX17, said the overview of the Indian contemporary art he would present to the world in Spain would incorporate both local and global elements to reflect contemporary issues and try to forge common creative linkages between the two countries that share historical ties.

While Delhi will be represented by Vadehra Gallery, Gallery Espace, Nature Morte and Photonik, Mumbai will be represented by galleries like Chatterjee & Lal, The Guild, Sakshi Gallery, Chemould Prescott, Mirchandani & Steinruecke and Bodhi Art. Bangalore will be represented by Gallery Ske and Kochi by Kashi Art Gallery.

Apart from the listed galleries in the panorama section, several contemporary and younger artists will exhibit their works in an “Expanded Box” under the umbrella ‘Diversity in Indian Art’.

A panel of specialists, including top-line collectors and investors from India, will debate on the Indian art market along with Asian and global experts.