Indian artists sell at Art Basel Hong Kong

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2016,14:38 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | The recently concluded fourth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong offered art from India a wider platform to showcase in the Asian region with galleries from the country reporting sales at the three-day-long fair.

Despite concerns of a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on the international art market, dealers such as the Mumbai-based Chemould Prescott Road have said they sold large proportions of the exhibited artworks.

The gallery, which exhibited leading contemporary Indian artists like Anju Dodiya, Gigi Sacaria and Shakuntala Kulkarni among others, sold an entire series of five cement-sheet sketches by artist-architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai to a private Chinese museum for USD 10,000 each. A fair like ABHK has the potential to introduce Indian galleries to a wider Asian audience and test the market outside.

Being a fair that attracts collectors and museums from around the world, Indian galleries can stand neck-to-neck with the best of the rest of the world here, says Chemould Prescott Road gallery owner Shireen Gandhy. Gandhy, who has been participating in the Hong Kong art extragavaza ever since it began in 2013, is also on the selection committee of ABHK.

The fair is over-subscribed, so the applications, past booth displays etc are viewed very stringently by the committee. The fair is competitive and applications are viewed with a great deal of discernment, say Gandhy.

The event that came to a close on March 26 attracted a record 70,000 visitors including Hollywood’s Oscar winning actor Leonardo Di Caprio and saw 239 galleries from over 50 countries, with half of the exhibition spaces dedicated to Asia and Asia-Pacific region showcasing the region’s diversity through both historical material and cutting-edge works by established and emerging artists.

The four Indian galleries that participated in the fair, cracking the stringent selection process also included Delhi-based Vadehra Art Gallery and Nature Morte and Kolkata-based Experimenter.

According to Marc Spiegler, Global director of Art Basel, one should not invest in an artwork merely for its potentially increasing market value, but also because it appeals to them aesthetically. That way, even if it does sell in the market at your desired price, you are not stuck with something you dont like. You have something you love, he says.

Nature Morte, another regular at Art Basel Hong Kong decided to bring in younger artists like Faig Ahmed and Suhasini Kejriwal with less expensive works instead of international names like Subodh Gupta Bharti Kher, whose works often returned to the gallery due to their exorbitant prices.

Last year we had Subodh Gupta and Faig Ahmed and the only thing we sold was Faig Ahmed. It was just too expensive for them, says Peter Nagy, gallery director.