Friday, June 24, 2011

Some Aspects of Contemporary Indian Art

As wealth creation increases in the emerging markets of India and China the wealthy are looking for new avenues of investment and pleasure. Traditionally the rich of India invested primarily in gold and property. Over the last century a portion of the assets of the wealthy have gone into company shares and financial institutions. However there is a limit to how much one can invest in property and gold. Beyond the possession of a couple of properties the management and upkeep of land and building becomes an encumbrance. Money kept in banks and shares has its attendant risks especially in these times of inflation, distressing national and private debts. Therefore, with growing wealth, the rich in India have begun exploring other avenues of investment. An investment in art has emerged as one of these options. It is new to India albeit traditional in the already developed economies. These investors seek not just global works of art but also homegrown ones. To meet the need new artists are emerging that are producing quality art objects and paintings.

As opposed to art that is merely decorative, investment grade art has some characteristics of its own. First and foremost it must employ materials and techniques that are long lasting. The object of art must not just outlive the owner but his children and grandchildren besides. Secondly like a title deed, such a work must have a certificate of authenticity. An established gallery, reputed auction house or the artist must issue such a certificate. Incase the certificate is issued by the artist he or she must be a person of established reputation who certifies that the work of art is an original one. This also implies that the work must be signed and have a title; some of its essential history, such as when the work was created and who has owned it since its creation must be known. It goes without saying that the work of art must be visually appealing not just to the creator and the owner but a wide cross section of the public that includes discerning connoisseurs of art. Just as jewelery enhances the beauty of a graceful woman, a good painting enhances the charm of a graceful dwelling.

The style of the new painting of India ranges from the modern to postmodern. Postmodern art combines in it the elements of modern and classical styles while being representational at the same time. This art embraces the philosophy of postmodernism as described in the words of Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, Professor of Art History in the Department of Art History at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, USA,

"Constructive postmodernism claims to offer a new unity of scientific, ethical, aesthetic, and religious intuitions. It rejects not science as such, but only that scientific approach in which only the data of the modern natural sciences are allowed to contribute to the construction of our world view. Constructive postmodernism desires a return to pre-modern notions of divinely wrought reality, of cosmic meaning, and an enchanted nature"

Examples of postmodern art of Indians are due to Painters like Jitish Kallat, Anish Kapoor as well as this author. It may be said without hesitation that the postmodern art scene of India has finally emerged. With the growth of art and theory in India, artists and writers increasingly find an international audience.

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