Newly opened gallery An Yah!! is all set to rent out art.

Since the recession, Indian art hasn't been able to lift its head high. Those who made money during the heydays are the only ones smiling. And those who took it as a passing phase are rethinking.

Hit by the bust, corporate houses and moneyed individuals took each step carefully and hence art buying/investing was pushed to the margins. But a few found it the best time to invest in just the right kind of art, which they would not only like to live with, but also wouldn't mind parting with, for money. Aasheesh Sethi, President of Noshe Group, took one such step. Last August, he launched An Yah!! meaning Gift of God, an art boulevard in the less visible area of Noida, Sector-4. He “employed” a few young, unknown but talented artists, paid them “good salary” as he puts it, and gave them a free hand to paint. He mounted two shows at Travancore Art Gallery in New Delhi to gauge the art admirers' response towards their works. Confident after those “successful shows”, Aasheesh has come out with a novel concept, of art on rent, with ‘conditions apply' as its main feature.

He has collaborated with Meena Varma, an art curator and now Associate Vice-President with An Yah!!, for the project. Spread across 4,000 square feet, the gallery-cum-cafeteria is laden with the works of the six artists. The show is a good mix of scenic beauty, still life, realistic, decorative and three-dimensional works with some influenced by the successful contemporary artists.

Says Aasheesh, “We will give art works to only corporate houses who would take at least 10 to 15 art works at a time. We will charge 10 to 20 per cent of the total value of the work of art. The work would be given for a period of one year. And we will also change once or twice a year on demand.”

Adds Meena, “Renting the art works is a very risky idea. So, we will first insure the works before renting them out. In case of any damage to the work, the taker would have to pay a penalty. We will also take security (say bank security) to make sure the user doesn't run away with it.” The corporate house which takes works on rent can also pay the full amount as security if they want. “On that, we will give them as much interest as they may get from the bank,” says Aasheesh.

Besides the works already in stock, a few would be made on demand as well. And the artists would be young and new, not the established ones.

But then, the biggest hitch for the art takers would be a clause that the temporary owner of an An Yah!! art work will have to return the work if An Yah!! finds a buyer for it. But in that case, this temporary owner will also be given the first option of buying that work of art prior to the new buyer, else he will get a replacement. “Our objective is not to earn money from art on rent as it is not a profitable option for us and we aren't doing a CSR activity either. We pay a hefty salary to our artists, give a fat increment each year and commission on the work sold. We also don't sign a bond with them so that they don't feel caged.” An Yah!! hopes to sell the works to individuals at less than a lakh, though the lowest price is Rs.5000.

“So far, art works have been selling on individuals' names. We want to turn An Yah!! into a brand for quality art. For that we will soon start a retail store for art works too.”

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