One of the crucial issues in the growth of the Indian art market–or slower pace of that growth–has been the absence of government support. In China, there was a recognition that without the government, the devastation of the Cultural Revolution would be too long-lasting. However, Chinese efforts to promote art resulted more in an overseas response. In India, growth has been autochthonous if one also includes Non-Resident Indians as part of the buying equation. One could argue that this will make Indian art stronger and broader in the long run. But try telling that to promoters of Indian art who look enviously at the Chinese as these comments to Agence France Presse indicate:
“Can anybody enlighten me about the government’s role in promoting art?” said Dadiba Pundole, owner of the Pundole art gallery in Mumbai, one of India’s oldest galleries. “They have failed miserably and it is only the private players that have kept the scene alive.”
The country has a legacy of artwork going back 9,000 years but there are just a handful of prominent galleries in India for thousands of artists and only a few crumbling museums, built between 1910-1920 by the British. “The total number of art schools can be counted on one’s fingertips,” said Kirpal.
Yamini Mehta, director of modern and contemporary Indian art at the Christie’s auction house in London, says the Indian art business is gathering momentum but the absence of institutional support is a problem. “There has not been much institutional support and resources for the visual arts in India as there has been in China,” Mehta told AFP.