The Hindu. Online edition of India’s National Newspaper

(27.11.2008 by Laurence)

Masters in your city

Marigold Fine Art gallery opens in New Delhi, bringing to Indian art lovers European greats like Picasso and Dali, writes RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN.

AT THE GALLERY Dali’s “Profile of Time”, Cipre’s “Gandhi” and Picasso’s ” Self Portrait”

With the countries of the world in closer contact than ever before, it is no longer rare for art works of the masters to be exchanged for the benefit of art lovers and buyers in different continents. Would Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali have thought their works would one day be displayed in one of New Delhi’s prestigious hotels, admired and bought by a burgeoning group of art patrons? That is what is going on at The Claridges, where a new gallery, Marigold Fine Art, has recently been launched.

The Marigold Group, a well known luxury purveyor, marketer and distributor of various international brands in India like Judith Leiber, has launched the gallery. The exhibition, “Modern and Contemporary European Masters” features, apart from works of two works of Picasso and three of Dali, contemporary masters such as Stephane Cipre, the famous duo Mazel-Jalix, Frank Todejman — all from Paris — besides David Kracov from Boston and Jorg Doring from Germany. In all there are 24 works by eight artists.

With the market witnessing a slump, many a major investment is being put on the backburner. Art sales too are affected in a major way! Many good art works are back on the shelf. So, why did Marigold decide to take the risk of bringing big names in the art world for sale in India during a recession? Shares 23-year-old Gaurav Assomouli, CEO of Marigold Fine Art, “Our family has been in the business of art for 30 years. And for us it is a matter more of passion than earning money. We have been reading the Indian market for long but we found it very strange that an Indian contemporary artist with lesser experience who sells for 30,000 U.S. dollars suddenly starts selling for 20100 dollars. He sinks with a slump in the market, while the European art market never gets affected by stocks and shares. So we thought, when people invest so much money for a contemporary artist of no great background or age, then why not give them masters for the same price?”

With this motive in mind, the Assomouli family from the U.S. purchased works from the Dali and Picasso Foundations and others from personal collections or galleries. “It took us almost a year to put up this show,” recalls Gaurav. They kept the prices for the art works between Rs.15 lakh and 25 lakh. “Visitors came to have a look at the masters thinking they wouldn’t be able to afford them,” smiles Gaurav, saying the entire show was sold out on the first day.

Dali’s highly symbolic and famous “Profile of Time” sculpture, which portrays a wall clock melting away while clinging on the branches of a leafless tree, “Space Elephant”’ and “Space Venus” have been instant hits with the city art lovers. Jean Claude Mazel and Yann Jalix, who restrict their works to fruits and vegetable installations, make their presence felt with the astonishing replica of apple and cherry in bronze. Frank Tordjmann, known for giving importance to stringed musical instruments in his works, also almost steals the show. His royal blue violin locked in a delicate glass/fibre house with a stopwatch and musical notes on a burnt, old paper has a nostalgic touch. Stephen’s work “Gandhi” in wrought iron and oil and canvas, Kracov’s Disney sculptures and Doring’s Marilyn Monroe (photo-painting) find a chord too.

Going by the success of the show, Marigold, says Gaurav, “is planning to bring a few more masters for the ongoing show with similar pricing.” The show, he maintains, “is aimed at the age group of 20 to 50. This generation wouldn’t really go for very serious works but the works that they can identify with.”

He concludes saying, “We would bring more serious works slowly but before that we would like to educate people on that.”

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