The excellent Kishore Singh cries out against the self-mutilating activities in the Indian art market and the threat those strategies have created for an entire generation of Indian contemprorary artists:
It seems like only yesterday that prices of contemporary artists had begun shooting past those of the masters, but without their much more solid foundation. Analysts had warned that these castles-in-the-air values were unsustainable and would in all likelihood have crashed. That this coincided with the global economic meltdown seems to have veiled what was clearly a weakness in India’s art distribution and retail system as a result of which prices were artificially pushed up and fell resoundingly in the process. After all, prices for contemporary Chinese or European, artists have not fallen anywhere close to these levels [Singh estimates a 70-80% drop in Indian contemporary prices] — they have suffered a 30 per cent dip at most, commensurate with what happened to art as an overall phenomenon.
In India, crashing prices has taken a toll that is only now beginning to play out. Among the greatest talents we saw in the recent past were artists such as Anju Dodiya or Bharti Kher, Atul Dodiya or Subodh Gupta, Manish Pushkale or Jagannath Panda. And yet, these artists seem to have fallen off the map. Once wooed and shown by every gallery in town, their works are being consigned to the basements as galleries try to revive the magic with older artists or their younger peers. […]
At what price can the same artist now hope to sell his or her work when the market is suddenly flooded with their previous works that no one wants? You can’t price the works high because, of course, they won’t sell at all. You can’t price them low because then both collectors and gallerists who own works from previously much higher priced sales, will feel cheated, and this will create ill-will in the market. Newer collectors will reject these works on the basis of their history of crashed values.
It means these artists must lie low for a while and ride out the worst phase of the slowdown — though it will be a long while before they can hope to see a logical revival in their prices. By then they could be in danger of having become irrelevant to the market as younger artists move into the slots they previously occupied.
In Memoriam? (Business Standard)