Thriving Art Market in India: Here’s Why

Thriving Art Market in India: Here’s Why

It’s clear that India’s art market is evolving at a fascinating time. The Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in Mumbai, the impending Hampi Art Labs in Karnataka, and the Brij Museum in New Delhi are just a few of the art spaces that have been popping up around the nation.

Last year, Artix, India’s first-ever traveling hotel art fair, was introduced by veteran curator and creator of Arushi Arts in Delhi, Payal Kapoor. Hyderabad will host the 2024 edition, which is scheduled for March 16–17. This week, the NSIC Exhibition Grounds will host the 15th edition of the India Art Fair, which will feature over 100 exhibitors from both India and throughout the globe. It is the largest edition to date. A brand-new Design section with collectibles and limited-edition designs will also make its debut. Along with foreign newcomers like Marc Straus of New York, local galleries taking part in the fair are DAG, Nature Morte, and Sanchit Art.

“Increasing collaboration between commercial galleries, patrons, and institutions has helped to support and bolster local art scenes,” India Art Fair director Jaya Asokan told Artsy. “We’re seeing a mutual and symbiotic relationship between the market and the art scene. Just as a strong economy is supporting the growth in the art market, the thriving arts and cultural sector is feeding back into and creating value for other parts of the economy.”

India’s economy has grown significantly in the last few decades. According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, the country will overtake the United States and China to become the third-largest economy in the world in less than five years, surpassing the economies of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan.

It is said that in Asian art markets, a rapidly expanding economy increases demand for Western art investments and collections. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Mumbai, where a large portion of the nation’s wealth is concentrated, opened Art Mumbai, a significant art fair, in November.

International art experts and collectors, including Lawrence Van Hagen, who recently opened a new curatorial project at the NMACC titled “Pop: Fame, Love, and Power,” have expressed a great lot of interest in both the new fair and the recently opened NMACC. Arty was informed by Van Hagen that the project “brings together 12 American pioneers of the Pop art movement, such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Keith Haring.”

“Many of these artists have not yet been exhibited in India before, so it really is an exciting time both for cultural institutions in India and for the public to experience international art in their home country,” Van Hagen said. “Secondly, the recent opening of Art Mumbai, the city’s first major art fair, also signals a more international path for India’s art market.”

Back in Delhi, DAG, one of the most significant commercial galleries in India, has constructed a new flagship location in the center of the city on Janpath. It also recently purchased the studio/house of the late Indian modernist artist Jamini Roy, which it plans to turn into a museum.

“All this became possible due to the surge of popular interest in art that has been growing ever since COVID,” said Ashish Anand, CEO and managing director of DAG. “Not only have we seen a rise in younger collectors—we are also seeing an increase in audiences for all our events at our galleries, signaling a growing understanding of art as a lifestyle choice.”

The director of Nature Morte, which has locations in Mumbai, Delhi, and New York, Aparajita Jain, says that the Indian collector base has become significantly more diverse.

According to her, “the traditional collector base is now growing, resulting in a new generation of young, tech-savvy collectors who are drawn to accessible art.” The number of collectors and first-time buyers who are drawn to up-and-coming artists has increased. Rising disposable incomes, a growing enthusiasm for art, and the emergence of online art marketplaces and galleries in tier two cities are the main drivers of this trend.
According to Jain, Nature Morte is now adjusting to this change by introducing audiences to various artistic genres and the creative process through frequent artist talks and gallery tours.

Director of the India Art Fair Asokan has also noted a rise in interest from younger collectors. She stated, “Galleries are selling art at all price points to established collectors as well as a new generation of millennials who will play a major role in forming the future of the art market.” “A growing number of younger collectors are joining the market, motivated by the financial return potential in addition to the social and emotional aspects of purchasing art.”

India Art Fair offers a Young Collectors’ Program in order to achieve this. In its third year, the program mainly targets people who are just beginning to collect as part of the art fair’s aim to keep opening doors for the expansion of the Indian art market.

New and in-demand artists have emerged, which is another noteworthy change. According to a Sanchit Art representative, up-and-coming painters like Nandan Purkayastha and Deveshi Goswami are becoming more well-known because of how much their creations are selling for. Renewed admiration and new audiences are being reached by more established performers.

“Additionally, there is anticipation regarding the future value surge of certain artists, with experts pointing to Gulam Rasool Santosh, Ganesh Haloi, Manoj Dutta, and Neeraj Goswami, as potential frontrunners for price movement in the coming years,” the spokesperson from Sanchit Art noted. Last September, the late painter Amrita Sher-Gil became the most expensive Indian artist with work at auction following the sale of The Story Teller (1937), which hammered for $7.5 million at New Delhi auction house Saffronart last September.

At India Art Fair, these confluent factors will be on full display, highlighting a domestic art scene that is growing at a rapid and exciting pace. Ashokan, the fair’s director, added: “As we grow as a fair, we remain focused on our mission to amplify the voices of the most exciting artists from the region and to support the expansion of South Asian creativity.”

Sanchita Patil

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