Looking For Young Talent To Invest In

Written by Suneet Chopra | Updated: Aug 31 2003, 05:30am hrs
What should one look for in the art of a young artist One often faces this question when visiting exhibitions; but unfortunately, not from investors. Their choice of art investment tends to be limited to the artists who have died, those who are celebrities or even the page three crowd.

And if they do design to promote the young, it is either the young of artistic lineages or the cocktail set.

King's Court, 2001 (14" x 9") gouache on Shikishi board
To an extent they are correct. In a backward country with its feudal past clinging to its modern present like a ghost, artistic lineage is a definite advantage to young artists in terms of access, exposure and a better start. So the investor does have a point in buying the works of artists from such lineages.

But then, many of the children of such lineages, like the Booni brothers, Akash Choyal, Arjun Singh, Manisha Parekh, Charu Chitrak, Chintan Upadhyay, Nandagopal, Pooja Broota, Owais and Shamshad Husain and Nand Katyal, all reflect a sense of being their own masters.

They are not following a family tradition like craftsmen. But they have learnt their techniques and they certainly execute them in a manner very much their own. If the investor chooses works of theirs that are original and thought-provoking, he cannot be faulted for it.

Beyond them, there are those young artists who are innovative without being gimmicky.

Among those who have taken to a modern life-style and celebrate it, we have Manisha Gera Baswani, who has just shown her latest series on the space fantasy: James Bond and Elvis phenomena as part of an artists reminiscences at the Sridharani Gallery.

Her tongue-in-cheek decorative style that puts Elvis and James Bond neatly on a painting with the finesse of an Agra pietra dura box is a very apt comment on the globalisation process of our times, marginalising our peak achievements and replacing them with standardised US perceptions.

In a similar tongue-in-cheek portrayal, Mohan Singh presents power-packed canvases of the drugs, drinks, sex and automobile sort without, however, spelling out anything.

To do that, he uses his flair for line and colour that communicates the concept of the fast like. Also, his larger-than-life canvases with very strong execution indeed, remind one that these processes cannot be wished away.

This brings one to a slightly older modernist, Atul Sinha, whose sculptures for use and concept of tactile aesthetics is a faithful reflection of a world so insecure that one has to touch it to believe it.

His work is in a number of leading collections including those of the NGMA; the Princess Amir Techoupani; the Ernesto Che Guevara Centre at Havana; Centre of International Modern Art in Kolkata; Tarun and Gutan Tejpal of Tehelka.com; Pat Raval of Rexas Museum in the US; writer Vikram Seth; poet Asad Zaidi, Dr Naresh Trchan, industrialists Sunil Munjal, Anjana Somani, Madhu Patodia, Vidhur Modi, Dr Ashok Seth; Stefan freiherr von Welcke; Udayant Malhotra; and diplomats like Ambassador Ong Keng Yong of Singapore; Counselor Frederico Nascimento of Portugal; gallery owners Sidharth Tagore, Shobha Bhatia, Vasal Poddar and collector Lekha Podar, to name only a few.

Seeing this battery of buyers and collectors, the young cannot complain of lack of patronage.

What they need is to go ahead with more courage and determination. What collectors look for in a young artist is courage of conviction.

It was interesting how Atul, despite the position of Portugal in supporting the US colonisation of Iraq, exhibited his important work, Bombing Baghdad for Christmas with his other works in the Portuguese Cultural Centre at Delhi. Other artists like Apoorva Desai, Neeraj Bakshi, Veer Munshi, Siddharth and Yati Jaiswal came out firmly against the invasion of Iraq along with senior artists like Ved Nayar, Gogi Saroj Pal, Nand Katyal, Sunil Das, Shobha Broota, Vivan Sundaram and Jai Zharotia, reflecting the confidence they have to back up their visual expression.

This confidence communicates itself to the investor. And when it does, such young artists work becomes good investment.