India’s independence in 1947, along with its economic liberalisation in 1991, were major turning points for Indian society. As the process of globalisation gradually advanced, Indian art went on creating value in the Western art market as well as its art scene.
There are many different players in the art scene.
Art museums, galleries, auctions, collectors, curators, and the artists. In order to nurture a rich art scene, audiences and art-lovers are also indispensable.
In the world of contemporary art, the rules of value are created based on the discipline of “fine art”. In other words, on whether it has importance of placement in regard to modern Western art history.
I would like to introduce the Vadehra Art Gallery that reared domestic artists and led them to the international market, as well as the exhibition that was being held there when I visited.
VADEHRA ART GALLERY
D-40 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024
+91 11 24622545 / 24615368
D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024
+ 91 11 46103550 / 46103551 / 65474005
Mon-Sat 11:00am – 7:00pm
The second stop on our gallery tour was the Vadehra Art Gallery.
It is a well-established art gallery founded by Arun Vadehra in 1987. There are two galleries – one that handles modern art and the other that handles contemporary art, along with a store for books related to art.
I was able to hear about the gallery and its history from Ms. Sonia Ballaney, who works there as its executive director.
“Mr. Vadehra was a contractor who used to undertake interior work for the Taj Group. But he had a passion for art and started this gallery in 1987.” “It held exhibitions, but if nothing sold, the gallery would buy one piece of artwork from each of the artists. This was around 1989.”
It can be said that at the time, there was almost no market for art in India. Gallery owners and artists who were unknown at the time tied themselves together in fellowship as “comrades”.
Even artists who were already established collaborated with Arun. They were the masters of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group – M. F. Husain, Ram Kumar, A. Ramachandran and Tyeb Mehta.
A turning point came in 1993. “The National Gallery of Modern Art hadn’t displayed any artworks by living artist until then. We were able to hold an exhibition by living artists in India for the first time in 1993.”
Then in 1995, the Vadehra Art Gallery was able to participate as an Indian art gallery in the auction at London for the first time. (*1) Looking at the path that was opened up with the artists in this way is like looking at Indian contemporary art scene itself.
Lately, it has become a gallery with presence, supporting artists and educational activities, publishing projects, holding collaborative programs with private galleries and museums and carrying out a variety of roles to revitalise the world of Indian art.
It sets up exhibitions by established artists (Vadehra Art Gallery), and also discovers budding artists (Vadehra Contemporary). It is a gallery that art enthusiasts would surely want to visit.
Paramjit Singh | Paintings and Drawings
from the gallery’s statement :
Singh’s brush charts a course on the canvas that gives the viewer panoramic visions of mystic landscapes. The bush, coated with thick pigment, does not rest before it has filled the entire surface; before the paint has ensured that all the natural forms in the frame have been given a colourful, tactile presence. The dappled areas of the sky and water too are rendered with a tactile feel. The lines etching out the grass, the leaves, the peduncle, seem to be possessed by a mysterious, lyrical musicality.
Influenced by the French painters of the 19th century, he was drawn to how light was painted by the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and German Expressionists. Describing himself as a painter of nature, he says “What matters is the concept of landscape. I am a painter of nature, not an illustrator of nature. I paint the moods and its older elements, like the air, texture… I use nature and I invent my landscape”.
A painter born in Amritsar, India, who resides in New Delhi.
(*1) The famous Modern artist Tyeb MEHTA, who died in 2009, is perhaps the best example of the rapid emergence of Modern Indian art on the international market. When his paintings were first offered at auction by Christie’s and Sotheby’s in 1995, they fetched on average between $4,000 and $13,000.
In 2000 the artist’s work crossed the $50,000 threshold and on 19 September 2002 he became the most modern expensive Indian Modern artist in an international sale after a large triptych entitled Celebration fetched $280,000 at Christie’s New York.
During the boom years (roughly 2003-2009) the market was made up primarily of speculators (both Indian and international) and now […] only the serious art lovers (primarily Indian) [are left]. The European private collectors and galleries, a big part of the boom years, have exited almost completely […].
Photographs・Text = Yoko Kobayashi (translated by Aumurto Chaudhury)
This post is also available in Japanese.