Where does talent lie? These are some questions that Kishore Singh tries to answer as he explains to his readers how to spot a young artist who might make a good investment:
Any artist who does not break new ground is to be treated with contempt. (That said, it must be remembered that Tyeb Mehta got into his groove well past his middle age; his earlier works just do not compare with what he painted in the last two decades, and even now they fail to get anything close to the record prices his latter work commands in the market.)
Nor, it must be said, do all “ideas” work. Too few artists sustain something in the long run. Atul Dodiya, despite seeing a collapse in his prices because they had been artificially sustained, is one of the most creative artists in the country with seminal work that will last out well when the history of Indian art is rewritten. Jitish Kallat has managed his ideas with a presence at seminars and symposia, which gives him the right leverage in intellectual circles.
For all that, it’s important to see whether artists have a strong Indian focus or not. Rootedness in a culture is important. Bharti Kher reflects this with her bindis, which are a draw at all international outings. Subodh Gupta shows it in his use of steel utensils, which are quintessentially Indian. The artists Thukral & Tagra manifest it in a Punjabi kitsch aesthetic. Even Vilas Shinde’s hundreds of watches, turned into sculpture, bear out an Indian mindset with his milkmen with pails, bicycles and so on. This identity is likely to play out in the long term. See the masters — their work all has an Indian ethos, whether Husain, Raza, Mehta, or Krishen Khanna, Manjit Bawa and so on. Even Souza’s canvases are represented not by a primarily Western idiom, as some feel, but through Christian icons represented by his growing years in Bombay and Goa.
Hype or Talent? (Business Standard)