Art in the time of recession

(13.02.2009 by Laurence)

Archana Khare
New Delhi,  February 13, 2009
The walls of the elite have enough canvases by Indian A- list painters. It’s time for them to turn to European masters for snob value.It’s a story that doesn’t have a date of origin, but surely has a flashpoint.

Since then, there has been a private race amongst the supersuper rich of the country to hang as many crore- rupee canvases on their walls as their deep pockets can flaunt. Indian artists have made hay in the sunshine, even though it may be taking a breather now thanks to the ‘ R’ word.

But, three years? Isn’t that a long time for any fad to last? I mean, almost every loaded Indian must have, by now, got a Husain/ Souza/ Raza canvas to grace his elite walls. How does that make him different from his equally loaded fellow citizen? No, I’m not saying that people should stop buying Indian artists’ works.

All I’m wondering is what is the rich- guy- hankering- after-exclusivity going to do next? That’s just a handful few, so Indian art is under no threat from lack of buyers, even in recession.

So, let me get back to the super rich and their super select status.

And let me also tell you that at least one art mart watcher, Gaurav Assomull, of the Marigold Group, has been thinking ahead of many others. He has already got raw material for lending new meaning to the snob value of the super rich. That’s called European contemporary art.

A Assomull, 24, is brimming with ideas and energy like any guy his age. He tried out the waters last November by launching his Marigold Fine Art Gallery in the city. It had works by European biggies like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Arman- Armand Pierre Fernandez, Stephane Cipre, Jorg Doring, Mazel-Jalix, David Kracov and Franck Tordjmann.

The recession had set in, Assomull was nervous but he ended with a sell- out. That emboldened him and he is back with a physical space for his gallery in Sunder Nagar, that will be launched on February 18, and yet another show of European contemporary art that also includes a name very well recognised in India — Andy Warhol.

“ Recession is the time of opportunity. I’m willing to take a sensible risk, an estimated guess and see how it shapes up,” he says. He coyly admits that getting original European signatures like Salvador Dali, Arman, Stephane Cipre, Jorg Doring, Serge Mendjisky, Patrick Hughes, besides Warhol, will lend a new meaning to how exclusive you can get with your taste for art.

“ Right now, we are the only one promoting European art in India. But I reckon, a few more players may come in by September.

So, we are aiming at being number one right away even though there is no competition yet,” he analyses.

But this exclusivity is not coming at ‘ an extortionist price,’ as Assomull puts it. “ For instance, Dali sculptures are between 30- 50 lakh rupees,” he informs.

That’s much? That’s not much? Well, it depends on what side of recession you are.

So, if you can spare a few bucks, it’s time to check out some art that is exclusive as it can get this season. The exhibition is on from February 18 to 24, at Marigold Fine Art, 19 A, 2nd Floor, Sunder Nagar Market. And, what’s hanging on your wall?

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