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This is a forum for sharing knowledge, gaining insights and shaping opinions. We will not sit on the fence here or play favorites. The language of art has changed in a blink of a year– today there are market makers, power brokers, savvy investors, flippers, fakes and fund managers. Collectors are nearly extinct. Why? Because collectors can see and COLLECTORS MIND. So together, let’s take a small step to make today’s buyers into tomorrow’s collectors. The future of art depends on it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I had a dream

I wake up with a start. 
My cell phone is ringing. It's 4am. 
I curse myself for not putting it on silent before I went to bed. 
I roll to the bedside, curse some more and look at the phone. 
It is Venkanna calling. I pick up the phone.

V: Sorry to call so early but I have some urgent news I want to share.
A: What happened?

V: I won the SKODA prize for 2013
V: Isn't it exciting? 
A: Please just hold on for a minute. (I wash my face and resume the conversation). Venki, the nominations for 2013 are not even out as yet. Moreover i just heard that they are canning the prize altogether. 

V: Ya I am sorry about that. I feel partly responsible.
A: What on earth are you taking about? This is insane. Are you ok? 
V: Abhay I just had a dream that I won the SKODA prize. But I don't like the name SKODA so me and the other shortlisted artists have exercised our right to dissent. We have taken up the issue with the organizers and have proposed that the name be changed to an Indian artist of repute - like "The M.F. Husain prize" or the "Amrita Sher-Gil prize" you know to make it just as appealing as the Turner prize. I finally feel like an artist-activist.

A: Hold on a second. I though your works were about the representation of beauty and sexuality? since when did you become an activist? 
V: It's just that I don't like the idea of having a car company on my resume. Imagine "SKODA" under the section that says Award and Prizes. How dreary!
A: So you don't wan't a prize called SKODA but you are happy to take their prize money? 

V: No, Yes, I don't know - But what has SKODA got to do with art? 
A: What has Bhau Daji Lad and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj got to do with art? Yet you seem quite content to have their names on your CV. Why the double standards baba? And if you have ideological differences with the prize why did you choose to send in your nomination? If I don't like the rules don't play the game. 

V: But this SKODA thing is pure capitalism, corporate PR in the name of art and we artists can't stand it so we must protest!
A: I see. But you don't seem to mind that you are represented by a Pvt. Ltd company, that your works sell to corporates and corporate honchos. That is acceptable capitalism but this is not? UBS, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase and the like are your biggest benefactors. And because they have a relationship with art, they are also likely to participate more actively in its expansion and promotion. It's a win-win for everyone and I still don't see the problem?

V: All I know is that we want a prize like the Turner. An artist should be recognized by another artist not by a car company on the masthead. 
A: Ok. So shall we say no to anything that has Boss, Cartier, LV, Hermes attached to it? Lets erase the show you did at the Agnes B Foundation in Paris last year and while we are at it, let's also turn our back to Tate Modern since it is named after the sugar magnate Henry Tate of Tate & Lyle, a British multinational agribusiness. 

V: Don't be so hasty Abhay. It's a dream to be at the great halls of the Tate Modern.
A: You are the one being hasty. Corporate patronage is a premium in a country like India that lacks public/governmental funding for the arts. By needlessly shooting at it you may have shot yourself and other deserving artists in the foot. 

A: By the way, I heard the government is planning on renaming your birth city of Hyderabad to  Bhagyanagaram. 
V: What? Are you serious!!!
A: Yes and that's a name change you should be protesting about.

This conversation never happened but should have.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Why don't we have a darn E-newsletter? I ask Rivka in a cranky voice the minute she lands into the gallery. (For those who came in late, Rivka works with me and is my go-to-person for anything tech.).

What are you talking about? She quips back.

I also want a chest-thumping gallery newsletter like these ones. Here take a look…I scroll through several in my inbox.  
So? Why have we not created a newsletter and blasted it out to our global email list of 10,000 strong? 

R: Because our artists don't have any news worth sharing Abhay.
A: What do you mean they don't have any news worth sharing? What about Venkanna’s residency in Sri Lanka next month, Priyanka’s performance in Mexico City last week and her solo show opening this week in San Miguel de Allende? Not to mention Shine's success at Art Brussels and his upcoming solo at Young International Artists in Paris, Avantika’s residency at MacDowell and her show in Chicago, Peter at Palais de Tokyo and MoMa PS1, Ruben at Nathalie Obadia in Paris, Max’s installation in Romania and Singapore etc. etc.  And while you are at it, add Robert Smithson to the list and find a way to glorify him too.

R: But this is not news.
A: What do you mean NOT NEWS?

R: This is what an artist does. It's a part and parcel of the artist’s journey. Why would anyone be interested in all of this....this activity?
A: Because it is very important to show the world that our artists are moving up, that they are internationally in-demand therefore serious artists. 

R: I thought the only important thing was to show great art.
A: Don't be so naive Rivka. Most people do not know how to see but they sure know how to read. And, it is our job to make them drink the Kool-Aid. We are the spin-doctors of art.

R: If you say so doc. But, what exactly was our role in getting the artists these fancy residencies amongst the other great things you just rattled off? Can the gallery take credit for everything the artist does? We don't even represent Peter and Robert Smithson is dead. Even if he were alive, his work was only part of a group show that was curated by someone else.
A: Never mind that Rivka. You are getting too caught up with all these trivial details. To stay competitive we have to learn to blow our own horn. Shout from the MacBook – choose the most esoteric images and list all the new triumphs of the artists the gallery has ever touched. It should be high on the wow factor. That’s the only criteria. Collectors, curators, critics and all need to get an impression that we are a “class apart” gallery with artists who are on the up-and-up.

R: You are the boss. By the way, how should I sign off?
A: With a double PhD.

Disclaimer: Even though this conversation never happened it could very well have.