The Indian art market can reach its peak in 2010

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: May 9 2010, 23:10pm hrs
He is credited with introducing online art trade in India with an auction house that specialises in modern and contemporary Indian art. Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and co-founder of Saffronart, is charting new grounds. Marking the 10th anniversary of the auction house is a tie-up with Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate service firm, that will offer several premium residential and holiday properties across major Indian cities. This Harvard management graduate shares his views with Garima Pant on the performance and revival of the Indian art market and on his views on the changing profile of an art collector. Excerpts:

Has the art market recovered from the recent financial crisis

The Indian art market has recovered remarkably. I believe that it is probably one notch ahead of where it was before the financial meltdown shook the global markets. The Indian art market should be able to reach its peak within this year itself. And its the old timers who are proving their mettle. Buyers and collectors are going in for modernists like SH Raza, for whom the market has come up. There has been incremental growth for contemporary artists as well.

What is your perspective for the Indian art market in 2010

The markets have matured and so have the buyers. The Indian art market has risen very sharply with a number of collectors coming in. They are looking for the best quality and have become wiser. And, with a wide range of information and knowledge available, buyers and collectors have become more informed. Indian economy is doing well and India has managed to survive the global crisis pretty well. There were people wanting to come in to buy before 2008, but the price rose too sharply then. So they want to come in now and see if they can get premium values on their choice of artworks.

Which genre do you think will become popular this year

The focus and interest of the buyers and collectors is bent towards the masters. The older generation of artists has got critical acclaim, making them more popular among art lovers. The contemporary artists, with their global appeal, focus more on the global market.

How much has the profile of an art collector changed

An avid art collector today has a much younger profile. With better access to knowledge about different artworks, a collector today is better informed. It was the corporate houses and the extremely rich that were into buying art a couple of years back. Now we also have the younger, more educated population interested in buying art, which is aware of the worth of what they are buying. Its a much wider base of people that are into collecting art, which constitutes a lot of professionals, younger collectors from the finance field and young entrepreneurs.

What needs to be done to draw in the buyers

We need to focus on infrastructure such as museums dedicated for art, something that is lacking in our country. It is my dream to have a museum on art in Mumbai and maybe I will be able to fulfill this wish sometime in the future.

Speculative buying sent the market in a distress. What do you think is a solution to this to prevent the art market from going down again

It is difficult to control the action of the market or even stop speculative buyers from entering the market. However, not many people had been a part of the economic downturn before and it would have been difficult for them to understand its implications. But, hopefully, speculators must have learnt their lesson from the meltdown.