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And, The Deal is Sealed, Virtually

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And, The Deal is Sealed, Virtually
Siddanth Shetty - 05 June 2021

Indian art, as ancient as civilisation, has undergone several transformations influenced by cultural diversity and exceptional artistic styles. Famous for richness in traditional artworks, like Mughal paintings, sculptures, India’s dynamic artistic legacy goes on with its enchanting contemporary paintings.

Given the current exposure that Indian art is receiving for its distinguished designs, the projected turnover of the market will hold its ground, and expand over the next decade.

It is safe to expect an increment in prices, given the steady growth in demand and the limited supply of auction quality artworks. Investment in art as an asset with long-term tangible value and as an instrument to hedge against in?ation, has done exceptionally well during in?ationary periods. The Indian art auction market has even stood its ground through the course of the past year, hereby registering records and further cementing the trust that the market has evolved to achieve.

Collecting art can be seen as a passion with an investment value and can be included in any sophisticated asset planning strategy. Domestic collectors have a discerning appetite for good quality works and based on the performance of the segment, there are many enthusiasts racing to build their collection. A surge in demand has been witnessed in the sub-continent.

Good art will always garner demand, and the prices for masterpieces by seminal artists will remain steady since they are historic as well as the leverage of a rich provenance.

We must not forget that art will always be a subjective investment, in?uenced by the trends of the time. One must always keep their ears to the ground and validate an acquisition, backed by research and analysis.

Building a good collection can take years. It requires a keen eye, and a desire to explore, gain exposure, and study the evolution of an artist and their body of work. Enthusiasts collect for several reasons, but they always try to find works that resonate with them and at the same time speaks about the artist’s mastery and ones that form significant milestones in their oeuvre. The main aim of the Collectors Choice edition is to present such works that have been hand-picked by collectors who understand art. A number of works that we present have never exchanged hands and were purchased directly from the artist by their present owners.

Our primary prerogative is to present enthusiasts with pieces that complete their collection and also present a compatible avenue for those who are looking to get started with their journey of collection artworks. The format also makes it possible to include important and formative creations executed by seminal artists during their experimental phase. Often presented in a set of multiple works, such lots offer insights into the making of the artist.

From left: Ganesh Pyne (1937 - 2013) 20.5 x 16 in (52.1 x 40.6 cm) Pastel & pen on paper 2007; Jehangir Sabavala (1922 - 2011) 22.5 x 15 in (57.2 x 38 cm) Pencil & charcoal on paper 1942

For instance, in our most recent auction, one of the key highlights from our catalogue that made its auction debut at AstaGuru is an early Untitled Chinese ink on paper (pasted onboard) work by Tyeb Mehta from the year 1963. The rarity of this lot did not merely fulcrum on its vintage and theme, but moreover, the work’s medium makes it highly significant. The work further represented a period where Mehta adopted techniques and styles associated with modernist as well as avant-garde art movements in North America and Europe from the 1950s and ’60s and then turned to ‘Indian’ themes and subjects through the ’70s and ’80s.

The artist experimented with Chinese ink from the late ’50s up until the mid-1960s and created works that exude immense emotions of contemplation and intended stillness. By including such works we strive to present collectors with artistry that truly shares a symbolic relationship with the artist and their journey.

Indian art has huge potential and it is gaining a firm foothold in uncharted avenues. The relevance of India’s glorious past in tandem with our present global exposure transmutes the artistic output with a heightened appeal amongst buyers. The online auction model has also given a great boost to the Indian art market with its ease of accessibility. Buyers are now comfortable with viewing art online and even purchasing them without having seen them in the flesh. The online model allows us to provide the buyer with all the information that they would need to make an informed decision including details on the artworks, the artist, and a condition report of the work which makes the transaction seamless.

M. F. Husain (1915 - 2011) 22 x 30 in (55.9 x 76.2 cm) Acrylic on paper

Observing a steady demand for modern Indian art from new collectors and an increase in the number of new bidders, we presented a special online auction titled ‘Collectors Choice’ to cater to the discerning preferences of modern Indian art collectors. The online auction aims to create a versatile platform for both, seasoned as well as budding collectors, by offering 100 lots at accessible price points that span the gamut of Indian modernism.

The format of the auction also makes for the ideal entry point for budding art collectors, considering bids for all lots starting at Rs 20,000. The lower estimate contingency is not applicable during this auction as evident with the moniker, due to which the final bidder takes home the lot, irrelevant of the fact if the bid has surpassed the lower estimate requirement.


The author is Vice-President, Business Strategy and Operations, at AstaGuru

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