As serious art collectors run out of display spaces in their homes, is it fair to the artist and the art world. Serish Nanisetti takes a look

We are inside the house of a well-known private art collector but the huge living room has a few antiques, bronzes and just two paintings. The huge collection of paintings that includes who's who of Indian art is tucked away elsewhere. A few of the paintings hang in the pathway leading to the dining room.

Isn't it unfair to the artist that his/her works created after an effort are not on display or displayed in a tawdry manner?

Artist Suryaprakash gives the analogy of a book lover and his library. “If someone loves an author and his works, he will be waiting for the next book to buy. He may not have enough space at home to stock all the books properly, but he is a real book lover. This is the most important thing about art: Acquisition. It shows real love and affection, the person who acquires may not be able to display it all the time, but he can understand and appreciate it, give it to family members, gaze at it, admire it and that's what matters to me,” says Suryaprakash, whose works now command high prices thanks to his oeuvre.

Nowadays, if you step into a coffee shop, it wouldn't be a surprise if the coffee shop has works of an artist on display and for sale. The lobbies and foyers of hotels are also being turned into a display space for the hotel's collection, or they will have numbers, which is a subtle hint that the paintings are for sale. “If the artist's works are bright and have a modern feel and prices are reasonable, people pick up the paintings. The key points are price and whether the paintings will jell with the interior,” says Vivek Rao of Beyond Coffee at Road no 36, Jubilee Hills.

“The younger generation is acquiring paintings for interior décor. They pick up a painting if it goes with the décor. While the serious collectors keep on changing their display, they are serious and follow the evolution of the artist. They are the silent collectors. Then there are the Page 3 collectors who brag: ‘I have a Husain saab at home.' They are not serious collectors. I would rather have my paintings collected by people who are seriously into art, rather than people who think it matches their sofa's colour or the pattern of the drape,” says artist Laxman Aelay. Between these versions of facts is the reality that awareness about art and collections is growing at a rapid pace. And the joy that is communicated by a first-time acquirer of a painting may not be matched by the collector who has a huge collection but he/she shows love in a different way. Artist Gouri Vemula puts things in perspective: “I would always be happy if my painting is hung on the wall and displayed and not when it is stocked in a store-room.”