Saffronart’s strong sale last week led by a record price paid for Akbar Padmasee’s Greek Landscape which made $2.9m, well above the pre-sale estimate. And though Saffronart CEO Hugo Weihe has told the media that ““there is a huge demand for unseen works of modern artists,” many remain wary of the Indian Modern market after so many years of dormancy and the collapse of the Indian Contemporary market.
Writing in The Asian Age, Geetha Jayaraman expresses regret that it took an auction price to bring attention to Padamsee and explains some of the work’s importance and value:
It is a sad state that the numbers have ignited the sudden interest in a legendary artist like Padamsee, expresses Ranjit Hoskote, cultural theorist and independent curator. He says, “Anybody who is talking about the auction and the price point must understand that it not something unusual or new. In the auction scene, modern artists have always been the first preference. The particular work ‘Greek Landscape’ is one of the masterpieces by the veteran artist and has a unique value because it is coming out of the art collection of fellow Progressive Artist Krishen Khanna. It was produced during a time when artists used to buy works of their peers. And Krishen is known for having a unique eye for great work and has an amazing collection of art. So, the work has an added provenance, making it even more interesting.”
Meanwhile, Sotheby’s Yamini Mehta gives an interview in advance of her October 18th sale in London underscoring the growth of Sotheby’s South Asian sales during this quiet period:
In terms of Sotheby’s sales, over the last five years, Indian clients have purchased works at auction totalling $273 million (aggregate), and from 2014 to 2015 the number of bidders at auction increased by 7%.
Sotheby’s sale is led by a Gaitonde work just as Saffronart was able to make a strong sale with another work by the artist. But Mehta suggests that South Asian collectors are just like everybody else these days, they’re looking less for trophies and more for discoveries:
The trends across the art world, and paralleling within the Indian scene, is a look at underrepresented or undervalued modernists and masters who are getting a critical reappraisal in museum exhibitions and academic publications.
New chapter in artonomics (The Asian Age)