The Global Stroke

December 20, 2008

As the Indian art market matures, a truly global team sustains and eggs it on

Gone are the days when art remained an exclusive domain of the culturally rooted Indian. Lending their efforts to an ever-maturing art market in the city are people from across the world.

Sage Mehta, who grew up in New York, has her father Ved Mehta, writer and The New Yorker magazine journo, to speak of as an Indian connection. Her father’s friendship with celebrated artists such as Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee and M F Husain and growing up seeing their work helped spawn an interest in art in young Sage. After studying art in New York and London, Sage soon decided to come to India. Having done a summer at the Modern and Contemporary South-East Asian art department at Christie’s, she wanted to be “closer to the source-both at the primary level of working at a gallery rather than an auction house and being in India”. Impressed by it’s line-up of artists and the international presence it held, Mehta was instantly drawn towards Bodhi Art Gallery and took up a job there, handling press and publicity.

Spotting the maturing potential of the Indian art market, French Mattieu Foss moved to Mumbai three years ago. Having studied

art history and photography in New York, Mumbai held possibilities of a bright career and also wedded bliss (his wife is from here). “I looked at the market here and found that photography wasn’t explored to its full potential,” he says.

Organising exhibitions of photographic legends like Martine Frank through Tasveer, Foss went solo as a gallerist and curator last year. “It’s been exciting and fruitful. I find Indian photography maturing and galleries are supporting this,” Foss remarks, saying pricing is the only thing that needed correction. “A lot of the work was overpriced, but the recession took care of that.”

Mortimer Chatterjee of Chatterjee and Lal sees the influx as a sign of Indian plugging into the international circuit. But he is skeptical and refrains from calling it a trend. “There’ve been a lot of young people coming in to do internships at city galleries without prior knowledge of Indian art; it shows well on their work experience. But not all of them necessarily stick around,” he suggests.

There are others who are drawn to Mumbai’s art flutter. American Natica Wilson, who has been curating at Sree Goswami’s Project 88, describes the events leading up to her settling in Mumbai as “anticlimactic”.

Working with Gagosian Gallery, New York, Wilson heard about the possibilities in the local art world from a fashion photographer friend. Backpacking through South-East Asia, India was to be her final stop. She decided to settle down here with her husband and 14-month-old daughter.

“Earlier, people were going from gallery to gallery looking at the same kind of stuff. The scene has changed dramatically now. And there are some great spaces in the city now which makes curating extremely exciting,” she says.

Late November’s terror attacks, which targetted outsiders in the city, too don’t deter these young art lovers. Michael Files, another American who has been a regular visitor to India since he was a child, narrowly escaped gunfire at Colaba and spent a night at Indigo Deli. Files, who has been working at Chemould Prescott, helping with curation and archiving, is drawn by the works of such artists as Anant Joshi, Reena Saini Kallat and Bharti Kher, displayed at the gallery. “I also find the works of Raja Ravi Verma uniquely intriguing,” the young printmaker says.

One Response to “The Global Stroke”

  1. vipinvalmiki Says:

    The Rang Rasiya Freedom of Expression Art Competition extended until January 21, 2009
    After receiving an overwhelming response , the Rang Rasiya Freedom of Expression Art Competition, a nation wide contest, a venture by Infiniti Film Entertainment has extended the closing date of entries till January 21, 2008. This Art Movement is an endeavor to bring about a socio cultural movement in India and provide a platform for new talent who are passionate about Art.
    The competition is open to all above the age of 18. Entries open till January 21,2008.For participation, log on to .
    For further details contact – Infinity Film Entertainment @ 022- 40742100 or Logon to

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: