Monday, February 02, 2009

Eric Fischl , one of Europe's most well known art-writer had once commented that the difference between the previous generations and the present generations is that while the previous generation lived in art-world, the present one lives in art market.

So perverse was this art-market syndrome that art was appreciated only on the basis of its price. Money became the sole determinant of art's novelty and greatness. And the people who ruled this pervert market were money owning buinessmen, auction houses, self styled curators and galleries. The people whose opinion mattered the least were the artists.

Atul Dodiya made a series of Shutter doors in 2007 (left). Bose Krishnamachari ( right) went a step further and bought garbage cans and put them as installations. Baiju Parthan (below) used hoarding space to make art works. hese works were not difficult to make. They required little skill. Infact these artists employed mechanics to make such stuff.
The question is can this be called art? Besides do they actually tell about India? Shutter-doors, garbage cans and huge banners: Is India only this and nothing else?

The art market got money for everybody except the true artist. The galleries became so expensive that artist could not afford to hire them on their own. To do a show, and spend money on press-publicity, artists needed private art-houses. Thus only such artists survived who would work according to the dictates of the market forces. Indivdualism in art went for a toss.
Now all that is over and now is the time for cleaning up.

Galleries that had stocked up huge piles of rubbish created by big names are now in credit crunch. The list of galleries that are closing down is quite impressive : Bodhi, Art Konsult, Delhi Art Gallery, Threshold, Art Pilgrim; those who are not closing are cancelling heir shows to cut costs. The situation with those who had also been selling fakes alongside originals is trying to offload their fakes first and in the process some like Dhoomimal Gallery and Gallery Espace are getting caught; others are escaping thinly. Buyers are cautious and are not investing on big names.

This is the story of the art market. What is happeing to the art-world? Well, it is begining to breathe once again.

With galleries and curators too worried about their money to speak on art anymore, once again artists are given an opportunity by the media to speak. Artists are now grouping up to showcase their works and speak for themselves. The galleries that were charging exhorbitatnt rents for their spaces are now going empty making it easy for individual artists to hire them without having to approach any gallery. The coming year will thus have many group shows and hopefully viewers would be able to see something new.

While the art market was booming, artists in China produced only works in the category of Cynical realism, because the west was buying only that. In Japan everyone was making robot-inspired art because the west belived that Japanese society is preoccupied with robotics. In India Subodh Gupta made paintings of steel utensils, which is "used by the great Indian middle class" and Shakti Burman filled his canvases with images from Indian mythology, which are supposed to be there in minds of "superstitous" Indians.

That there are things beyond steel utensils, superstitons, slums and poverty in India was not acknowledged well by the west. Those who produced what the market wanted survived. Those who remained independant was ignored by the market.

Now that the market is gone for sometime, hopefully newer works, isms and expressions are likely to be seen in the year 2009.