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BANKING on art

Citibank has tied up with Apparao Galleries to provide premium advisory service to its clients

Most members of the Progressive Arts Group get represented in the show. The artists are M.F. Hussain, Jogen Chowdhury and Ganesh Pyre

OF LATE, art is being seen as a tangible asset and investment in art is gaining attention, both at the individual and corporate levels. An evidence of this drift could be perceived in Citibank's Citigold Wealth Management tying up with Chennai-based Apparao Galleries to introduce a premium advisory service to its clients.

The formal launch of the art advisory service is scheduled for June 25 at Windsor Sheraton. As a prelude to the event, Apparao Galleries has set up an exhibition titled Ruminations, at two of the Citibank offices in the city — one at the Prestige Meridian, M.G. Road, and the other on South End Road, opposite Surana College.

Ruminations is a collection of about 75 works of two dozen artists. "The list of artists includes most of the important collectible artists who have become blue chip to collectors of contemporary Indian art," says Sharan Apparao of Apparao Galleries. "The collection is an eye-opener to what has evolved into the backbone of modern Indian art and has been gleaned from collectors and patrons specially for the show. And all the exhibited works are on paper, not canvas."

It is indeed a sheer delight to go through the exhibits. With the possible exception of Tyeb Mehta, all the principal members of the Progressive Artist's Group are represented in the show. S.H. Raza, whose concept and execution of Bindu has mesmerised viewers world over, is denoted by three drawings whose inherent energy remains unaffected by the absence of colour. A small but intriguing collection of M.F. Husain's works includes several of his pen-in-ink drawings on postcards, and of course, his famed equine form executed using predominantly brown, black, and silver acrylic colours. While K.H. Ara deliberates on his still life, F.N. Souza's fascinatingly bold, frenzied, and irreverent nudes leave one spellbound.

There are equally arresting works from other genres. K.C.S. Panicker's exquisite black and white portraits and studies, V.S. Goitonde's meditative drawing, Anjolie Ela Menon's striking watercolours and, Jogen Chowdhury's expressionistic works are instances of inspired creativity.

Kishan Khanna's black-and-white portrait of M.F. Husain, drawn five decades ago, has a nostalgic feel, while Jehangir Sabawala and Manjit Bawa create soft yet stimulating close-up profiles. Laxma Goud's mastery over line and free spaces are evidenced in his drawings and aquatint etchings, and A. Ramachandran's tight compositions depicting both human and animal forms are marked by elements of grace and beauty.

While the displayed works enchant the discerning viewer and art aficionado, collecting them is another matter, demanding, among other things, a sizable pocket. For instance, a Ganesh Pyne watercolour would cost the buyer Rs. 3.50 lakh and Raza's drawing Rs. 3 lakh, while Goitonde's sketch and Jogen Chowdhary's charcoal works would come at a price of Rs. 2 lakh a piece. After a stint in Bangalore, the exhibition would move to New Delhi and Mumbai in July.

"For Citibank, the art advisory service would mean adding another function in client servicing," says Sharan Apparao. "Our collaboration with Citibank would result in Apparao Galleries organising not only a series of art shows, but also other related activities. In Delhi and Mumbai, the exhibition would be followed by a panel discussion and a talk on the status of Indian Art and why it should be collected. Eminent speakers such as Alka Pandey, Girish Shahane, Ashrafi Bhagat, and a few prominent collectors would participate. And as part of the advisory service, we are also planning an exclusive art magazine for Citibank clients."


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