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art pilgrimage delhi
The Gallerist, Delhi
Peter Nagy
India’s artworld functions much like an artworld they usually miss out on the early stages of an
anywhere: private galleries host exhibitions artist’s career and start buying only when an
launched with openings where a variety of artist’s name becomes known and the prices go
people stand around drinking wine and chatting. up. New York collectors are more passionate
The ‘scene’ in Mumbai and Delhi would be about art in general and spend much more time
simply a much smaller version of what one finds going to see it and looking at it. Delhi collectors
in New York or London. But the market is seem only interested in contemplating art if
deeply conservative and fixated on painting. they have it at home.
Only recently has a market for photography The artworld of India will certainly grow,
developed, and everyone still asks the naive both internationally and abroad. Of course, the
question about experimental sculpture, booming economy is the major reason for this.
installations and video: “Who buys this stuff?” But educational institutions are getting better
In India, the answer is, “Almost no one”, because also, providing more of the infrastructure
there are virtually no institutional acquisitions. needed for an artworld to come into being.
But the international artworld is starting to pay Artists will not be tempted to move to London
attention and is very interested in these forms. or New York. An apartment there, perhaps, but
preceding pages, from left:
Tushar Joag, Listening to the
There is a small cognoscenti that know their concepts, productions and infrastructures
sound of one hand clapping
(Untitled World Monument)
about international contemporary art and are are too rooted in the social parameters of India (installation view, Chemould
Prescott Road, Mumbai), 2008;
interested in and excited by experimental and for them to walk away from it.
Khirkee extension, home of
progressive Indian contemporary art. After that,
KhOJ Studios, delhi
the majority of the art audience, I would say, Peter Nagy is the director of gallery Nature Morte
below: T.V. Santhosh, Hounding
Down (installation view,
doesn’t really want art to be challenging; they in Delhi Nature Morte, delhi), 2008
would prefer it be comforting and
nonconfrontational. Of course, the massive
audiences for contemporary art that one finds in
London or New York simply don’t exist in India.
Certainly the audience for experimental
art is growing, as are (slowly) the venues to
exhibit it. The audience is primarily artists,
curators and critics. But these are the first steps
to developing a local market for such art.
Certainly, the success of these art forms on the
international stage causes Indian collectors to
take them more seriously. The interest of the
international audience in experimental forms
has been a big impetus to artists to break away
from painting and become more adventurous.
Certainly, it’s good to know that you may be
able to show your art abroad even if almost no
one is going to show it at home.
Most Delhi collectors are not trained in
contemporary art, Indian or international, so
they rarely have any understanding of what they
are looking at or even buying. Because of this,
artreview 114
Pilgrimage_Delhi/Mumbai.indd 114 8/2/08 12:44:26
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