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India’s Art Market Soars as Mumbai Prepares for Inaugural Art Fair

FY23 Sets New Records

The Indian art market is experiencing a remarkable resurgence, with FY23 marking a blockbuster year for art auctions. The momentum shows no signs of slowing down in FY24. September saw a historic Sayed Haider Raza painting sale, fetching an astounding Rs 51.75 crore followed by Amrita Sher-Gil’s The Story Teller fetches record ₹61.8 crore making it the most expensive painting ever sold in an Indian Auction. Artists Francis Newton Souza and Tyeb Mehta also achieved personal milestones, further solidifying India’s position in the global art scene. According to the “State of the Indian Art Market Report FY23” by Grant Thornton Bharat and Indian Art Investor, the market has grown by an astonishing 265 percent over the past decade since FY13.

Art Mumbai’s Debut

In this vibrant atmosphere, India’s financial capital, Mumbai, is gearing up for its first-ever art fair. Art Mumbai’s inaugural edition will grace the Mahalaxmi Racecourse from November 16 to 19. This event precedes the country’s largest art extravaganza, the 15th edition of the India Art Fair, scheduled for February 2024 in New Delhi. Art Mumbai is set to host around 50 galleries, primarily from India. Notable names include Experimenter from Kolkata and Mumbai, Vadehra Art Gallery based in New Delhi, and galleries from Bengaluru. International galleries, such as Grosvenor Gallery from London, will also showcase Indian art.

Mumbai: The Natural Choice

Conor Macklin, the director of Grosvenor Gallery and a co-founder of Art Mumbai, asserts that it was only a matter of time before Mumbai had its own art fair. He highlights Mumbai’s status as India’s auction hub, home to many of the country’s major auction houses like Pundole’s and Saffronart. Dinesh and Minal Vazirani, co-founders of Saffronart, along with Nakul Dev Chawla of the online gallery Global Art Hub, are the driving forces behind Art Mumbai. The fair aims to emulate the Indian Premier League (IPL) of the art world, infusing glitz and glamour, encapsulating all that defines Mumbai: art, culture, Bollywood, and fashion.

A Blend of Art and Glamour

The opening day promises to be a spectacle, featuring a fashion show by a prominent couturier and an art conversation between Dinesh Vazirani and a renowned Bollywood filmmaker. Museum groups from London and Washington DC are expected to make the journey to Mumbai to experience the fair. Minal Vazirani highlights Mumbai’s significance in the art world, with a considerable number of major collectors residing in the city and a substantial volume of art transactions taking place there. The art world thrived during the pandemic, with people having more time to engage with art while staying at home, leading to a surge in sales. The bull run in the stock market has further fueled this momentum, with art buyers emerging not only from major cities but also from non-metro areas like Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, and Amritsar, says Chawla.

A Global Spotlight on India

Concurrently, India’s G20 presidency has indirectly played a role by showcasing India’s geopolitical appeal to investors, instilling positivity about the country, adds Macklin.

In Minal Vazirani’s words, “And now we are finally having an art fair in Mumbai, which has always had a cohesive ecosystem for art. So, no, it’s not ‘Why Mumbai?’ It’s ‘Of course, Mumbai’.”

As the Indian art market continues its upward trajectory, Art Mumbai’s debut promises to be a pivotal moment in the country’s art scene, celebrating Mumbai’s rich artistic heritage and global significance.

Published in Business Standard

Most Expensive Indian Artwork Ever Auctioned: Amrita Sher-Gil’s “The Story Teller” Fetches ₹61.8 Crore

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