ARTIANA Founder Lavesh Jagasia explains why South Asian art will weather economic slowdown
As founder of UAE’s foremost home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles, Lavesh Jagasia knows his art – not just from the aesthetic point of view but also from commercial perspective. As ARTIANA gears up to hold its next online auction on March 23-27, he takes us through the world of bidding and why South Asian art market is recession-proof.
What’s the USP of your next auction?
Our USP as an auction house is “what you bid is what you pay”; buyers at our auction do not pay any Buyer’s Premium over and above the winning bid amount. Other auction houses usually charge 25-30 per cent Buyer’s Premium on the final bid amount making the artworks more expensive. Our upcoming sale is about presenting Classical artworks along with Modern and Contemporary selection. This is a rare occasion when a sale of Classical South Asian art is taking place in the region and these will be presented with the expertise of world class scholars such as JP Losty for the Indian Miniature Paintings and Renzo Freschi for the Indian and Gandharan sculptures.
For a buyer, what is the advantage of participating in an online art auction?
Online art auctions give buyers the benefit of a seamless and convenient platform to bid from across the globe! They can view the works in our gallery and participate in our timed online auction as per their respective time zones. Online auctioning reduces the high costs associated with live in-room bidding of art and luxury collectibles. Buyers can also view all the details of the work and study the artworks through high-resolution images provided on our online auction platform, as if looking at the artworks in person. There are many buyers who prefer to remain discreet and this medium allows them that flexibility. Besides, there are options for ‘Proxy Bid’ in which case, a bidder can put in their upper limit bid and our proprietary auction application will bid on their behalf till this limit is reached, relieving the bidder of keeping a constant watch on the bid increments.
What tips would you give an art lover who is participating in an auction for the first time? How should he or she make smart choices?
- Check the credibility of the auction house.
- Make sure that they are selling genuine art works by ascertaining their reputation and length of association with the sphere of art that they specialise in.
- Since art and luxury collectibles have a historically high value, make sure that you are getting the best value for your money by acquiring artworks that you love.
- Acquire a painting which you can live with for a long time, as art should not be acquired merely as an investment. It is an asset class which should be approached with a combination of passion and research.
- As much as possible, go for the auction houses who have a ‘No Buyer’s Premium Policy’ as it would save you from paying additional 25-30% of the hammer price.
Given the general economic slowdown, what is your assessment of the art market currently?
Based on my experience over many years which have included both highs and lows, I would say that the South Asian art market is hugely undervalued. The economic slowdown may broadly affect the mood of the buyer temporarily but confidence is proved time and again by record prices achieved by top-end works in which rare and sought-after pieces see hectic bidding activity. This is proof that the market for quality works remains extremely strong in any economic scenario. Moreover, the Indian economy is growing at a very healthy pace and has remained unaffected by the economic slowdown in the Gulf and other emerging economies. In this current auction, majority of our artworks are by Indian artists.
Can you recommend some South Asian artists to watch out for?
We always recommend acquiring the established masters from South Asia. The established artists we recommend any serious collector to acquire would be from the ‘Progressive Artists Group’ such as M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, F. N. Souza, Ram Kumar and other artists such as Sakti Burman, Jehangir Sabavala, Jogen Chowdhury and Jamil Naqsh.
What are your favourite pieces that will be going under the hammer in the auction?
We have a seminal work of S. H. Raza titled ‘Emergence’; this work was painted in 1988 and has been published on the cover and inside of one of the artists’ most important books. There is a very large work of M F Husain titled ‘Islam’, this massive work is from his ‘Theorama’ series and is worthy of any museum acquisition.
Emergence by SH Raza, acrylic on canvas, 1988
Published: March 17, 2017 (Gulf News)
By Jyoti Kalsi (Special to Weekend Review)
Artiana, the UAE’s only home-grown auction house will hold its third online auction of South Asian Art from March 23 to March 27. The lots on offer include classical Indian and Gandhara sculptures from the second and third centuries, early Indian miniature paintings and rare works by leading South Asian modern and contemporary painters and sculptors.
Highlights include breathtaking ancient sculptures of Buddha and Indian deities, S.H. Raza’s 1988 painting, ‘Emergence’, which appeared on the cover of Alain Bonfand’s book, Raza; and a large museum quality work by M. F. Husain titled ‘Islam’, from his Theorama series. Estimated prices start at $800 for some miniature paintings.
A unique feature of Artiana’s auctions is that it does not charge a buyer’s premium, which typically ranges from 25 to 30 per cent of the purchase price. Thus, buyers have more leeway while bidding and sellers can get better prices.
The auction catalogue is available at www.artiana.com and those interested can also physically view the artworks at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Downtown Dubai.
The auction begins at 6pm on March 23 and final bids will be accepted between 6.30pm and 9pm on March 27. Buyers from around the world can place their bids whenever it is convenient for them during the auction. They can also bid on the move via Artiana’s state-of-the-art proprietary application software that can be downloaded from Google Play for Android devices and the Apple Store for iPhones and iPads. The software also allows buyers to place a ‘proxy bid’ stating the upper limit of their bid, and bids on their behalf until that limit is reached, freeing buyers from keeping a constant watch on the process.
Artiana was founded by Lavesh Jagasia, an art expert specialising in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, and founder of art investment consultancy, The Fine Art Advisory, and art publishing firm, The Serigraph Studio.
“This is the first time ever that a sale of classical South Asian art is taking place in the region, and we are delighted to have the guidance of world class scholars such as J. P. Losty, an expert in Indian Miniature Paintings, and Renzo Freschi, who specialises in Indian and Gandharan sculptures,” Jagasia says.
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.
For more information and registration, visit www.artiana.com
For viewing appointments, write to email@example.com
Part of the upcoming online auction of South Asian Art are miniature paintings from the Indian subcontinent, showcasing different schools of classical paintings from 17th to 19th century. This one in particular uses opaque pigments and gold on paper, a medium unique in classical Indian miniature painting.
Maharao Ram Singh of Kota (r. 1827-66) is one of the best represented of Rajput rulers with many aspects of his life both public and personal documented by his artists. He is represented in durbars with his court and with British officials, in the many festivals of the Hindu calendar, including Dussehra as here, the Asapura festival (Kreisel 1995, fig. 132), and the riotous spring festival of Holi (Topsfield 1980, pl. 7), as well as personal worship of the deities (Seyller 2015, no. 60) , and of course many scenes of personal interest such as riding an elephant on top of the chajja of a pavilion in 1853 (Ehnbom1985, no. 64), playing polo with his noblemen (Welch 1997, no 63), entering Delhi in 1842 (ibid., no. 65), and scenes of him enjoying himself with his women (Seyller 2015, no. 61). Here, he is celebrating the autumnal Dussehra festival, commemorating the slaying of the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura by the Devi, by hunting and killing a buffalo in a ritual slaying. Other pictures suggest that this was not a solitary affair but was a communal ceremony undertaken with his nobles (Kreisel ed. 1995, fig. 133).
In our splendidly energetic painting, the Maharao is gorgeously apparelled in helmet and body armour, with room of course for jewels, over a lilac jama. He carries a small shield in his left hand which holds the reins, while an empty scabbard is by his side, the sword being used to slice at the neck of the buffalo, which is falling to the ground behind the horse. The horse is even more gorgeously caparisoned than the Maharao, with its tasselled mane, jewelled bridle and many chains with attached gold plates. Two attendants run beside on foot, one with a khanda sword and a chowrie, and the other with a sun-burst parasol. The latter may also be carrying an upright spear, unless it is attached to the horse in some way or held by an invisible attendant. The scene is set below a plain green hillside dotted with a few trees and with a walled garden near the summit of the hill.
The Maharao here appears relatively young, being without his full set of bushy sideburns that grew gradually over the course of his reign. He came to the throne at the age of 19 and one of his earliest datable portraits shows him about 25 (Bautze’s fig. 14 in Welch et al. 1997, p. 53), when his sideburns were already heavier than they are in our painting. His profile with its bulbous ending to the nose and protruding lips is instantly recognisable.
The horse rolls its eyes as the buffalo falls dying to the ground, its horns obtruding into the margin, but Ram Singh’s grave face is devoid of the pleasure of the hunt but rather intent on doing his ritual duty. A later and rather stiffer picture dated 1859 in the Mittal Museum in Hyderabad (Seyller ed. 2015, no. 63) shows the same ritual killing of the buffalo but with the Maharao using a spear rather than a sword, while a preliminary drawing for that painting is in the V&A Museum (Archer 1959, Kotah fig. 49).
Expert: J. P. Losty
Featured in the Classical, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art online auction on March 23-27, 2017 are sculptures from as early as 4th century such as this Buddha Head which is the oldest in the collection.
This Buddha head reflects the typical Gandhara style with a clear hellenistic influence. The elongated earlobes only and the half-shut eyes show the Indian origin and taste.
The intensity of expression, the lengthened shape of eyes (that denote an oriental origin), the elongated earlobes, the circle (urna) in the middle of the forehead, the cranium protuberance (usnisa) are distinguishing characteristics of the Buddha. Furthermore, the sweet faraway look absorbed in deep meditation is typical of Buddhist art.
Face’s oval is perfect, eyebrows are gently arching, nose is straight. The face’s soft simplicity contrasts and points out the hair, which is treated according to an incisive cutting. Fineness of features is emphasized by the polychrome stucco.
The beautiful aesthetic quality of this head is a fine example of Gandharan stucco sculpture.
Expert: Renzo Freschi
ARTIANA’s upcoming online auction of Classical, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art on March 23-27, 2017 highlights this distinct work of Maqbool Fida Husain. This painting is the most valuable lot in the upcoming sale, both in terms of price and history behind the artwork.
‘Theorama’ is a ten panel series that was influenced by Husain’s past preoccupations with theosophy and his experiences as a billboard painter. Composed in the early 90s, Theorama tributes ten different faiths — highlighting what Husain sees as the finer aspects in each; these are strung together in the series to symbolise a sense of unity or a common thread. ‘Islam’ is Husain’s masterly depiction of the Muslim faith.
To the left is a Sufi saint with his finger of ‘Kalema e Shahadah’ raised. The black and majestic cube of Kaabah, inscribed with the Arabic ‘Kaaf’, is positioned at the heart of the image, emphasising its prominence in no uncertain terms. A circle beside the Kaabah represents the dome of the The Prophet’s mosque in Madinah and is inscribed with the alphabet ‘Meem’. ‘Al-buraq’, the lightning horse, gallops across the sky to the right while the ‘Al-Shaqqul Qamar’, the splitting moon — an Islamic symbol of the scientific temper — watches over. ‘Al-Loh-al-Mehfooz’, the book of Judgement Day, also sits prominently to the right.
This simple yet substantial homage to Islam is brought about through a keen use of colour and line. These, along with tasteful use of religious motifs and symbolism, assembled together with an intimacy and personal reverence, lends this painting the distinctness for which it is known.
Syed Haider Raza’s ‘Emergence’, published on the cover and inside of ‘Raza’ by Alain Bonfand and the cover lot of our upcoming auction on March 23-27, 2017.
In his meditations on colour and their emotive qualities, Raza was taken back to his childhood. It was a voyage, so to speak, back to the moist and pregnant ground where experiences were naked and free from the shell of words. This apprehending of the ‘source’ — the point of emergence — is a spiritual element captured best in the Bindu. This is arguably why it has remained pivotal to Raza’s repertoire.
Drawing from Raza’s own words: “The point, the Bindu, symbolises the seed bearing the potential of all life, in a sense. It’s also a visible form containing all the essential requisites of line, tone, colour, gesture, and space.”
Since the 1970s, Raza began to visibly emphasise his Indian identity. This is evidenced in his frequent visits to India. His concepts and colours at the time were distinctly akin to Indian spiritual thought but their plasticity, however, remained their most striking quality. The Bindu figured prominently in his paintings in this period. It was a starting point that brought together geometry, colour, space and several aspects of Indian aesthetics. The circle, one recalls, is a figure within which every geometric shape can be featured.
The late 1970s witnessed a considerable change in his style of painting. He preferred basic geometric figures and the primary palette in his compositions. The Bindu was reinstated in ‘Emergence’ (1988) as the centre of his contemplations: a radiant circle emerging from within a square, flanked by distinct carves of bright colour. The Bindu is black but illumined — a sighting of the source in the silent minute of meditation.
Understanding Raza: Many ways of looking at a Master, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2013, p. 52
K.G. Subramanyan – The Visitor – 1994 – Acrylic on Canvas – 54 x 54 in. – Lot 31
ARTIANA’s upcoming auction on October 13-17, 2016 features an important painting of K.G. Subramanyan – ‘The Visitor’. This iconic work of the artist has been exhibited in his retrospective and published in the book K.G. Subramanyan: A Retrospective, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, 2003.
The philosophical and mystic traditions of India are replete with stories and symbols. The ease and clarity with which these convey the deeper narratives and connotations intended from them, appeal powerfully to the artistic eye. The number ‘three’ is very significant in the philosophical symbolism of the Shaiva and Advaita traditions. Shiva is considered to be the singular principle of all existence, the Brahman. He manifests Himself as the One Conciseness that illumines the three states of experience: the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states. He is also considered the pervader of all three worlds — heaven, earth and hell — and the ground on which the past, present and future are conjoin to form the progression of time.
“In this painting Subramanyan uses the colours of the earth, images of animal skins and the trees to create a dense visual field. The Visitor seems to refer to the iconography of Shiva who appears here with the three faces of a trimukha, a snake, suspended from his right shoulder. The fact that the face is rendered like a mask adds to the piquant quality of the painting. Shiva’s conventional seat, the hide of the spotted deer appears in different parts of the painting. This work is typical of Subramanyan’s involvement with myth, his ability to rework it for his own purposes. It also demonstrates what he calls the bahurupee or disguise in play ‘mixing the normal with the hieratic’, the human with the mythic, the world of play and the imagination” (Gayatri Sinha, Jiva – Life: Contemporary Indian Art, Bodhi Art Exhibition Catalogue, Singapore, 2004, p.46).
Akbar Padamsee – Mirror image – 2003 – Oil on Canvas – 48 x 96 in. – Lot 28
An exceptional and rare painting of Akbar Padamsee from his Mirror Image series leads our upcoming auction on 13 October, 2016.
Inspired from his iconic Metascapes series, Padamsee’s Mirror Images draws on the elements – earth, water, fire, air – to present a new series of reflection. In Mirror Images, the dual aspects of every event in nature is emphasised on two separate canvasses, one representing the apparent and the other, its inverse. To Padamsee, the chasm, that separates opposites such as exhalation and inhalation, the conscious and the unconscious , is manifest even in the compliments of colour, form and space.
This series features Padamsee’s well-known fascination for ideas of duality and iteration and their depiction on the picture-plane. In Mirror Images, the artist has relied on two halves to form a complete image; in each half, forms are not mirrored but echoed in the other, thus forming dual representations of similar realities. “These works bring together the artist’s philosophical interests with his formal interests in color […] Dualities seem to define the career of Akbar Padamsee; an Indian who uses European forms, a colorist who paints monochrome works, who uses oil as much as he relies on ink and deploys both line and stain, a figurative painter who paints sublime landscapes, and an artist who is intuitive as he is intellectual.” (Amrita Jhaveri, A Guide to 101 Modern and Contemporary Indian Artists, Mumbai, 2005, p. 60).
“Space-cognition and time-cognition depend on a compound duality, inside-outside, expansion-contraction, exhalation-inhalation, the round and the square. We inhale, the trees exhale, we exhale, the trees inhale, a mirrored symbiosis. Expression must contain its dialectical opposite, the conscious and unconscious on the same psychic plane. I have two eyes, two retinas, but the mind compounds the two images into one […] Colours expand and contract, colours reach out of their skins to invade each other’s territories, the blue goes in search of its complementary counterpart yellow or orange. The further away from each other I place them the greater the space and the voyage.” (Artist quote, Mirror-Images, Exhibition Catalogue, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 1994, unpaginated).