‘South Asian Art Market is Hugely Undervalued’

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.

ARTIANA Founder, Lavesh Jagasia

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.

MF Husain – ‘Islam’ – 1992 – acrylic on canvas – 78 x 139 in.

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.
Jamil Naqsh – ‘Arrival’ – 2015 – oil on canvas – 48 x 30 in.

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.

SH Raza – ‘Emergence’ – 1988 – acrylic on canvas – 31.5 x 31.5 in.

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.

Krishen Khanna – ‘Bandwallas’ – 2003 – oil on canvas – 40 x 30 in.

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.

Source: ‘South Asian Art Market Is Hugely Undervalued’: Lavesh Jagasia

South Asian art auction sans buyer’s premium

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 auction@artiana.com

Source: South Asian art sans buyer’s premium

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 10 – Classical, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium

Gandharan Sculpture – Buddha Head – 4th/5th century – North Pakistan – polychrome stucco – 23.5 x 13.5 x 16 cm. – Lot 10 

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

Auction Catalogue-South Asian Art ‘Classical, Modern and Contemporary’-March 23-27, 2017

An art auction sans buyer’s premium


Woman and Pigeon by Jamil Naqsh, oil on canvas, 2006

Published: October 7, 2016 (Gulf News)

By Jyoti Kalsi (Special to Weekend Review)

Art collectors interested in modern and contemporary South Asian works by masters can bid online from October 13

Dubai-based online auction house Artiana will hold its second online auction of modern and contemporary South Asian art from October 13 to October 17. The auction offers 60 lots of paintings and sculptures by well-known modern and contemporary artists from the Indian subcontinent. Highlights of the sale include a rare diptych from Akbar Padamsee’s “Mirror Image” series; S.H. Raza’s acclaimed work “Duvidha”; and important works by Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan masters such as M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, Jogen Chowdhury, B. Prabha, Laxma Goud, Sakti Burman, Jamil Naqsh and Senaka Senanayake. A unique feature of Artiana is that it does not charge a buyer’s premium.
The auction catalogue is available at www.artiana.com, and the artworks can also be viewed by appointment at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Downtown Dubai until October 12.
Artiana was founded in March this year by Lavesh Jagasia, a Dubai-based art connoisseur who runs the art consultancy The Fine Art Advisory and The Serigraph Studio, which collaborates with leading South Asian artists to create high-quality serigraphs of their works.

“Artiana is the first homegrown auction platform of its kind in the region launched to create a seamless and fair interface between buyers and sellers across the globe. We want to introduce transparency and accurate price determination of rare and collectible artworks by established artists to help collectors acquire genuine works at fair prices. While most auction houses charge a buyer’s premium of 25 to 30 per cent on the final bid, our ‘No Buyer’s Premium’ policy means that buyers can bid with the assurance that there will be no additional charges over the winning bid amount. Artiana’s in-house delivery and logistics infrastructure further reduces the cost of the transaction, ensuring that both sellers and buyers get the best possible price,” Jagasia says.
The auction will begin at 6pm on October 13 and close between 7 and 9pm on October 17. Buyers can register at www.artiana.com, and they can place their bids in advance or at any time during the auction through Artiana’s state-of-the-art proprietary auction application software. They can also participate via the Artiana mobile app, which is available at the App Store and Google Play.

Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.
For more information and registration, visit www.artiana.com
For viewing appointments, write to auction@artiana.com

Source: An art auction sans buyer’s premium

Syed Haider Raza (1922-2016)

S.H. Raza in his studio
Raza during his early years in his Paris studio

A dot marks an end in script. However, when speaking of Syed Haider Raza, a special legend it led to new beginnings, both in his early years and later in his art journey. Raza was a restless young man with an unbridled mind. While at school, his teacher drew a dot on a wall, trying to make him focus on it with the intention of calming his wandering mind. Raza recollects this incident as formative in his approach to art and even life.

A visual depiction of the sacred through the modern idiom invokes only one name in Indian art – Raza. His early years by the Narmada valley shaped his perspectives on culture, tradition, religion and their broader interpretations through art. His deep meditations on these subjects, all through his artistic journey, resulted in the emergence of a unique motif in Indian contemporary art – the ‘bindu’.

Raza’s art was nothing short of an obsession. This obsession wasn’t limited to a certain theme, but was a quality of mind that pursued everything it touched – whether it be geometry, theology or natural phenomena – with an encompassing intensity. His fascination and love for poetry, nature, and the elements at large inspired him. His exposure and training in Paris were ideal in shaping this enthusiasm. Raza’s landscapes were therefore strong, vibrant and even his ‘Bindu’ was derived from the intimacy he maintained with his themes. He reflects on this in his own words: “Painting is something alive as human beings in its different manifestations… It is a vital process of becoming. Just imagine how fascinating it is that the seed contains the total inherent forces of a plant, of animal life, and so on and so forth. And that could be the same process in form too!”

Raza will be remembered as an indispensable force that energised the modern art movement in India. His emergence as a modern artist was at a time when the genre was struggling to find its unique language in the country and his was an influence that catalysed this seminal art movement.

At 94, Raza left behind a verse from the Bhagavad Gita in his personal diary:
Hidden in Nature, which is Mine [My] own,
I emanate forth again and again
All these multitudes of being
necessarily by the force of nature.

Bhagavad Gita – IX, 8.

Raza found and met art at the source of his being; the beauty of this encounter is that it is one that continues to flourish, in the minds of all those who seek from it, even in times that know him no more.


A click-and-mortar gallery for South Asian art


F. N. Souza – ‘Head’ – acrylic and black marker pen on colour printed paper

Published: 15:26 March 2, 2016 (Gulf News)

By Jyoti Kalsi (Special to Weekend Review)

This month, Artiana will hold its first auction of 60 lots that include paintings, works on paper and sculptures by modern masters and contemporary artists

Artiana, an online auction platform for modern and contemporary South Asian art will hold its first auction from March 17 to March 21. The 60 lots on sale include oil and acrylic paintings, works on paper and sculptures by modern masters and leading contemporary artists from South Asia such as S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza, Ganesh Pyne, M.F. Hussain, Akbar Padamsee, Jehangir Sabavala, Sakti Burman, Laxma Goud, Himmat Shah, Ismail Gulgee, Senaka Senanayake and George Keyt.

The artworks can be viewed at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Business Bay, Dubai, and online at www.artiana.com. The auction will commence at 6pm on March 17 with the final sales beginning at 7pm on March 21. Registered buyers can also place advance bids. A unique feature of this virtual auction house is that it does not charge a buyers’ premium on sales.

Artiana has been founded by Lavesh Jagasia, an art connoisseur, collector and consultant, who runs the Dubai-based art consultancy, The Fine Art Advisory, and art publishing company, The Serigraph Studio, which collaborates with leading South Asian artists to create high-quality serigraphs of their works.

“Artiana bridges the gap between traditional and online auction houses with a unique click-and-mortar hybrid that offers personalised client consultations, printed auction catalogues and a viewing gallery, along with timed online auctions that are accessible to people living in different time zones, and in-house delivery and logistics infrastructure. Our aim is to offer collectors of South Asian art from around the globe an opportunity to acquire genuine artworks at fair prices. We want to redefine and streamline the auction process, and create a seamless and transparent interface between buyers and sellers, that delivers the excitement of art auctions through the convenient medium of the internet,” Jagasia says.

“As a collector, I know how stressful it is to make quick bidding decisions in the charged, competitive atmosphere of an auction house. Buyers also have to keep in mind the buyers’ premium that ranges from 20 to 35 per cent of the sale price, while making their bid. With our state-of-the-art proprietary auction application software, registered buyers can bid from the comfort of their home, and from any android or iOS device, either before or during the auction. With no premium or taxes to pay, buyers will pay exactly the amount they have bid, while sellers will get access to a global market as well as the best possible price,” he adds.

The artworks will be displayed at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Business Bay, Dubai until March 16. For viewing appointments and buyer registration, write to info@artiana.com

Artist Jehangir Sabavala passes away

Jehangir Sabavala passes away

Hindustan Times, Saturday, September 03, 2011

Riddhi Doshi  (riddhi.doshi@hindustantimes.com)

MUMBAI: Jehangir Sabavala, Padmashree awardee and master artist, died at Breach Candy Hospital on Friday morning of complications caused by lung cancer. He was 89. “Jehangir had been unwell for two years and was frequently in and out of hospital,” said close friend Lavesh Jagasia, an art entrepreneur. The renowned Parsi painter is survived by wife Shirin and daughter Mafreed. He was cremated at Chandanwadi, Marine Lines, on Friday afternoon, in keeping with his wishes. Jagasia met Sabavala a week before his death and said the dapper artist was his usual energetic self, “dressed perfectly in a crisp shirt and cravat.” Sabavala, known for the integrity and unique language of his art, created only five or six canvasses a year but was known as a pioneer of the contemporary Indian art scene. “Despite studying art in London and Paris, Sabavala returned to India to practice here and develop his own unique art language,” said Pheroza Godrej, owner of Breach Candy’s Cymroza art gallery. He was a very giving, generous person, adds Geeta Mehra, owner of Sakshi art gallery, which organised a retrospective of Sabavala’s works four years ago. “His works had a haunting and magnetic aura. He nurtured many young artists and had time for everybody. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that he is not with us any more.

Rising graph of reprints

(By Jyoti Kalsi, Special To Weekend Review, Published: 00:30 February 29, 2008)S.H.Raza & Lavesh Jagasia copy 2

Over the past few years, the demand for contemporary Indian art has seen a boom in the international art market. As a result, original works by established artists are not easily available and they command prices that keep them out of reach of art collectors. That is where Lavesh Jagasia comes in. An avid collector of Indian art, the former fashion designer had the foresight to realise that with the rapid development of the market, collectors would turn to limited edition fine art prints to fulfil the desire of owning works by their favourite artists.

“In all mature art markets, there is hectic activity in the prints market with those by eminent artists fetching thousands of dollars. About seven years ago, I saw that contemporary Indian and Chinese art was moving in that direction but nobody in India was addressing the need at that time,” Jagasia said.

Having been a collector for over 15 years, he had good relationships with many leading artists and approached them with the idea of creating limited edition fine art prints of their important works.
“They agreed because they trusted me and my knowledge of their work. Some of them did express concern that it might be unprofitable for me. “And they were quite justified in thinking so because in the 1970s I had arranged an exhibition of lithographs by M.F. Husain and Tyeb Mehta. We were selling them for just Rs20 and yet we did not sell a single piece,” he recalled.

Unlimited dividends

But this time he was convinced that the secondary art market in India was mature and ready.Jagasia gave up his career as a designer to launch The Serigraph Studio, a fine art publishing company that represents eminent contemporary Indian artists such as S.H. Raza, Jogen Chowdhury, Paritosh Sen, Ram Kumar, Jehangir Sabavala, K.G. Subramanyam, Rameshwar Broota, Sakti Burman, Ganesh Haloi, Lalu Prosad Shaw, Manu Parekh and Amit Ambalal.

Jagasia’s foresight has paid off. At recent auctions in India and abroad, his serigraphs have fetched three times the original issue price just three months after release.
“I was happy to note that at a recent auction in India, original works by well-known artists remained unsold while there was brisk bidding for our serigraphs,” he said.
The Serigraph Studio functions through art galleries, dealers and consultants and has a website [www.serigraphstudio.com].
It has now come to Dubai and is the first and only fine art publishing service that is providing serigraphs by leading contemporary Indian artists.
“I plan to work closely with local galleries and financial institutions in Dubai. I would like to work with galleries that have not exhibited Indian artists because, besides addressing Indian collectors in this region, I want to widen the base of collectors of contemporary Indian art to other nationalities living here.
Understandably, most collectors are reluctant to spend big money on names they are not familiar with.
But the reasonable prices of our serigraphs should make it easier for us to reach out to new collectors, galleries and investors and introduce them to contemporary Indian art,” Jagasia said. “We would also like to look at creating serigraphs of artworks by artists from this region.”
Jagasia is confident of building a huge cross-cultural base of collectors in this region.
“Collectors are assured of appreciation because our serigraphs are approved, supervised and signed by the artist. They are released in a limited edition of 125 prints and we provide a certificate of authenticity guaranteeing that no more prints of that composition will be made.
In fact, an increase in value is inherent in our sale process. We make prints in two sizes — 22 inches by 30 inches and 44 inches by 30 inches. The first 25 prints of the smaller size are sold for $1,000 and the bigger ones for $1,750.
The price increases by 20 per cent after every 25 prints sold — so the last lot of 25 becomes double the original price. And since our artists are all eminent names, buyers can expect appreciation within three to five years.”
Interestingly, the price is the same for every artist — regardless of their stature, age and market value — giving discerning buyer an arbitrage opportunity.
Jagasia explained that collectible fine art prints could be of various types — such as lithographs, linocuts, woodcuts, etchings and engravings. But he chose to create only serigraphs because this technique produces prints that are closest to the original painting.
“The word ‘serigraph’ means to draw through silk and it is so named because, in the old days, the stencil used for pushing the pigment out on the paper was made of fine silk.
“Unlike offset prints, our serigraphs are fine art prints made by the screen printing method through printers in the UK and Europe,” he said.
The process — from selecting artworks to the exhibition of the serigraphs — takes one year. “We try to select paintings that represent seminal works from the artists’ careers so that their most important works are seen by a wider audience.
“This has brought us unexpected dividends. We expected a clientele that cannot afford original works but our choice of artworks has attracted collectors looking for limited edition prints of important artworks that are not available in the market,” Jagasia said.
His advice to investors: “First, buy something that you like and can live with. Secondly, be prepared to hold the artwork for three to five years,” he said.
He added: “The house of Armani has the couture Giogio Armani label, urban chic Emporio Armani label and the ready to wear Armani Exchange line. Serigraphs are like the Armani Exchange label. Just like it makes sense to stick to brands it is safer to buy prints of good established artists.”