Can’t tell a Picasso from a third grade art project? Read ahead. bpb gets ten art experts to help you start your very own art collection, with tips on which gallerists to befriend, what to read, and recommended pieces you can buy.
Nishad Avari, Associate Specialist, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, Chirstie’s Mumbai
Where to start: The entire NGMA collection is available on Google's Art Project, so that's a good place to start. Plus, most galleries have pretty informative websites. Good magazine references are Art India and Gallerie, as well as newer publications like Take On Art.
Education: The India Art Fair, held every January in New Delhi, is a fantastic place to see a lot of art at one time, and besides the fair, there are a ton of collateral exhibitions that happen in the city. Photography is also a good entry point for a person looking to collect, and usually resonates with younger collectors. The Focus Photography Festival, currently on in Mumbai, offers a chance to see some great works by Indian and international artists. Good photography galleries and websites are Tasveer, PhotoInk and Wonderwall.
Artists to buy: Photographers Shahid Datawala, Binu Bhaskar, Prabuddha Dasgupta, Dayanita Singh, Pushpamala N, Vivek Vilasini, Gauri Gill, Chirodeep Chaudhri. Artists Niyeti Chaddha Kannal, Shiela Makhijani, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Rithika Merchant, Samanta Batra Mehta.
Ameya Dias, Vice President, Volte Art Project
Where To Start: Platform art magazine is a good reference for Indian art. Artsy.net/ is a great place for any newcomer to see, buy and learn. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Talk to the artists and speak to the galleries. Try to see as much art as you can to understand what you respond to.
Education: March has tons of events but some of the best ones are Kochi-Muziris Biennale (which ends in April); Mumbai artist Nalini Malani's Gamepieces, which just opened at MoMA in New York; The Photography show from Deutsche Bank’s collection at NGMA, which opens at the end of March.
Artists to buy: Astha Butail, Rathin Burman, Charmi Gada Shah, Tahireh Lal.
Parmesh Shahani, Head, Godrej India Culture Lab & Art Collector
Where To Start: Train your eye before you buy. Head to Art Night Thursdays – that all the galleries do once a month and stay open until late, host talks and other art related events. Make friends with the gallerists. Talk to them about your constraints - I live in a small home and can't buy big art works or I don’t have a big budget. Once they know you, they will make suggestions about their new and upcoming artists.
Education: Visit open days during residencies. Space 118 has a great art residency and they have open days with their artists. You can often find super works at really affordable prices. Saloni, the Space 118 owner is a good friend to make.
Artists to buy: Nowadays, artists are doing interesting interventions. Dayanita Singh is selling limited edition books as art for instance; Chirodeep Chaudhuri is selling his Instagram prints directly. So follow artists that you like on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You never know, you may be able to acquire something wonderful from them directly.
Ranjit Hoskote, Cultural Theorist & Curator
Where To Start: It’s a good idea to build some knowledge infrastructure in the art space before you get into it. For this I would recommend attending cultural events at Jnanapravaha, Kitab Khana, Studio X and Mohile Parikh Center in Mumbai.
Education: Read the New York Times! I know this sounds strange, but it’s important to understand and imbibe a certain sense of seriousness that goes into art criticism. Open Magazine is also a good publication for a larger understanding of the cultural milieu. Pundole’s auctions too work well for people starting out.
Artists to buy: Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Philips Antiques for some great pieces.
Matthieu Foss, Co-founder, FOCUS Photography Festival
Where To Start: The best way to build a knowledge base is to see as much art as you possibly can. The more you expose yourself, the more you’ll find that you lean towards certain kinds of design.
Education: To get a broad understanding of the space, magazines like Pix edited by Rahaab Allana feature art in an in depth way, which allows you to know the people behind famous and upcoming works.
Artists to buy: Photographers like Sushant Chhabria, Arpan Mukherjee, Rana Dasgupta (yes, the author is also a photographer).
Ashiesh Shah, Architect & Creative Director, Ashiesh Shah Architect + Design
Where To Start: You don’t need to be an expert to collect work. You could look up artists and auction results on saffronart.com and artnet.com. Subscribe to magazines like Freize, Art Asia Pacific and Domus.
Education: If you are considering starting a collection, it’s essential to constantly visit shows. Try visiting galleries like Project 88, Chatterjee and Lal, Gallery Maskara, Chemould Prescott Road and Mirchandani & Steinruecke, because they often showcase works by young and mid career artists from the region.
Artists to buy:: Sahej Rahal, T Venkanna, Shreyas Karle, Pallavi Paul, Priyanka Chowdhury.
Srila Chatterjee, Partner, Highlight Living & Founder, BlueFROG.
Where To Start: Don't ever think of art as an investment - get it because you like it. Make a habit of visiting galleries and browsing shows. Don't bother with openings - you will get much more attention and help when the gallery is working normally. Don't shy away from asking questions.
Education: Use the "blink of an eye" test - if you liked something the moment you see it, don't question it later. The greatest thing about art is the effect it has on you.
Artists to buy: Make it a point to discover the wealth of indigenous and tribal art, hugely ignored by art circles but celebrated worldwide and very affordable. For people who want to understand more about local artisans, our store hosts many artists that serve as a good introduction to the space.
Ayush Choudhary, Owner, Cocoon Rugs & Art Collector
Where To Start: While buying art is important, feeling good about what you buy and loving it aesthetically, is imperative. So even if you may be purchasing a great name in the art world, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t feel for it.
Education: Art Musings gallery in Colaba, Jehangir Art Gallery are good options for first timers looking to build a collection. I’ve previously bought art from a small gallery called Pradarshak in Khar that promotes young, upcoming artists. Websites like storytld.com also serve as good reference points.
Artists to buy: Sall Husain, Sahil Mane, Sameer Tawde, Boshudhara Mukherjee, Puja Vaish, Harsheet Thukral.
Krsna Mehta, Designer, India Circus
Where To Start: It’s a good idea to speak to gallery owners and collectors to understand the space. Educating yourself is the first step. And of course, liking what you see.
Education: Project 88, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke do great work with up-coming artists.
Artists to buy: Photographers Paolo Regis and Fabien Charau. Artist Varunika Saraf.
Saloni Doshi, Director, Space 118
Where To Start: The more you see, the more you will understand the space. It’s important to have an open mind, and go with your gut.
Education: It’s important to read and see as much as you can. Attend shows, talks, exhibits to first get the hang of things.
Artists to buy: Myriam Omar Awadi, Aashna Jhaveri, Himanshu S, Vaibhav Raj Shah, Armando Miguelez, Sharath Kumar, Niyati Updhayaya, Parul Gupta, Ratna Khanna Mario D'Souza, Danika Rodrigues.
Image Courtesy: Ratna Khanna
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