Buying art comes with its own complexities. One can never be sure if what one likes is actually great art or if great art is something that personally resonates with the buyer. Apart from being highly subjective, art is also highly expensive. Broadly, these two factors are what usually keep most interested folk away from actually buying the work. But what if there was a way to understand the art one was seeing and to have the option of purchasing it at an affordable cost?
Chemould Prescott Road in its latest show Modus Operandi that opened last evening, gives art enthusiasts this unique opportunity.
Aimed specifically at the younger generation, the show exhibits about 28 artists’ works, a majority of which will be under the ₹2 lakh price tag. “It’s not stock clearance”, clarifies gallery director Shireen Gandhy, explaining how all names on the list are part of the gallery’s official roster with notable shows under their belt. Along the more well-known Atul Dodiya, Nilima Sheikh or Jitish Kallat and Reena Saini Kallat, there are several others like Ritesh Meshram, Lavanya Mani, Bhuvanesh Gowda who might not be as popular beyond the art circuit, but whose work is equally credible.
The Chemould team was clear that they weren’t “…[going to go] searching for new young artists and affordable art and that kind of cliché terminology but go back to our own artists. Those artists who are perceived to be high-priced to look into their own archive or to see whether they can make something specially [for the show]…”, adds Gandhy. What was an idea initially floated by the gallery’s young sales director a couple of years ago took shape over the past few months. With the aim of “keeping the young fold” with them, the show encourages the youth — both the kin of art collectors, buyers and those long associated with Chemould as well as salaried professionals, to engage with the space and what it offers. Gandhy, whose parents started Chemould at the Jehangir Art Gallery back in 1963 is no stranger to this journey of initiation into the art world. The gallerist is better placed to understand a younger mind’s dilemma and interest well enough, having been there once herself.
“In a way [putting] the show [together] was itself a process”, shares Gandhy, to whom Modus Operandi still feels like an experiment. But with initiatives like (Facebook group) Carpe Arte that gathers like minded youngsters to visit artists’ studios, shows and talks, Gandhy feels confident about nurturing a new generation. Modus Operandi in its presentation will be no different from a regular show at the gallery. If anything, it might just be more exciting as moulds, maquettes, annotations and raw materials crucial to the process of making the art will also be on display — to both learn from or to buy. Most artists were forthcoming in their participation and the few uncertain ones needed confirmation on how the work would be presented says Gandhy. Pricing artwork though an opaque process, as Gandhy points out, is arrived at through an assessment of both the artist’s and the work’s trajectory. This is when communication associated with the artwork needs to be done right. It’s this impetus that pushed the team to go beyond the ‘affordable price range’ thought.
Unearthing art gems
For Gandhy, it is the word ‘process’ around which the entire show was conceptualised. What artists found after rummaging through their earlier projects for relevant work, gave the show a new dimension. The buyer could now access not only the artwork but also possess a part of what went into the making of it. So artist Desmond Lazaro’s exhibits include his series of houses which are actually studies of spaces of refuge or sheds. Though slightly injured from the wear and tear of time, Gandhy likens these to “little jewels”. Similarly, artists Aditi Singh and Archana Hande will both showcase their process of working through annotations and scrolls/printing blocks.
Artist Dhruvi Acharya is designing a wallpaper from her drawings against which she will then display her water colours.
The gallery is also organising events like an etching workshop with artist Tanujaa Rane at her studio or studio visits, both open to the public (age no bar) by registration as also closed events where a select few will be invited to interact with Gandhy’s private art collection. Being true to the idea, Gandhy clarifies — if a younger buyer is interested in purchasing one artwork that’s part of a set, as opposed to an older buyer who wants to buy the entire set, the preference of sale will lie with the former.
Modus Operandi is ongoing at Chemould Prescott Road until July 28