Art lover and collector Kyamas Anklesaria, who was in the core team of Reliance’s Harmony Art Show, tells the Pothi team how he views art
The world of art is richer not only because there are artists, but also because of those who appreciate it, show it and buy it. And then there are those who go a step ahead and curate it, and tell others why some pieces of art are better and why some things deserve a second look.
Meet Kyamas Anklesaria, art lover extraordinaire. While he has navigated the corporate world as his career, he has set his radar to the art world. In his candid fashion, he makes it clear that he is no painter. “I am not a painter. I appreciate art. And my tryst with art started with Tina Ambani’s Harmony show in 1996,” he says. For those of you who may not be aware, the Harmony art exposition sponsored by Reliance was one of the country’s biggest and most important, with big ticket artists showing in it. The Harmony Foundation is also involved in publishing and charitable activities.
So, having curated art shows like Harmony and going on to become an ardent art collector, what does Kyamas think about art? “First of all, sensitivity to art differs from person to person. I am fond of figurative art, while some like abstract works,” he says. He polarises the art world here saying that as a collector, he would not buy abstract works. “It is just not my thing,” he adds.
He believes that mostly people buy art when they are moved and affected genuinely by a piece. It isn’t always about investment alone.
Talking about contemporary art, Kyamas believes that it is all about touching somebody on an emotional plane. “What emotion does a piece of art generate? The manifestation of creativity brings it all together into one aesthetic whole,” he says.
Obviously, the next question the Pothi team posed before Kyamas was: How does he decide what is good art? “I like the visual. That is number one. Does it appeal to me in the visual representation a piece carries, does it whet my curiosity? Of course, the next thing is the technique of the artist. Is it something that is complicated and takes things into a new realm? Complexity matters,” he elaborates.
So, how does he differentiate between a piece that is purely decorative and something that is actually art? “Appreciating art is an amalgamation of many things. The visual impact a piece of art makes on a person is crucial. The person’s own sensitivities and inclinations matter. How does it affect me emotionally — that is an important consideration. Not everyone is drawn to art, mostly because they are not exposed to a lot of art. To the uneducated, a piece of decoration will do. A calendar or something like that. Art is an outcome of putting creativity on canvas, whereas a calendar is not that. Art brings together many skills of the hand and mind. Skill is definitely important. To somebody who is reasonably exposed to the world of art, they automatically gravitate towards something that is actually made by hand, something that is unique. It must stand out. It must make some kind of a statement. It must bring out some kind of a story,” he says.
While he is more for figurative art, he says that artists are metamorphosing constantly and new artists are bringing newer sensibilities to the table. “See, I am not exactly an old school art appreciator. I know that new art is tangentially open,” he adds.
So, what would he tell a novice art lover? How should they decide what is good? “If I am an art advisor and somebody asks me what they should buy, I would tell them to ask as many questions as possible, like the history of colour, does the artist have an evolving body of work and so on. Finally, the decision is yours alone. After all, perception of art is individualistic. You don’t have to go to an art appreciation course, but you do have to feel pleasant about your decision. You must feel like you have got value for your money,” he says. “One needs to understand that even good artists do bad work sometimes,” he adds.
Talking about his personal collection, he says that it is a mixed bag and displays his own ideas and taste. “I possess around 50 works maybe, and only about seven of them might sell well in the market today, in terms of their value appreciating significantly,” he adds. “I like oil or acrylic on canvas, though I do have a Samir Mondal watercolour. Figurative art is what I like. I don’t own any abstract work. I don’t know why abstract does not appeal to me,” he says.
Since he has seen how the art world functions, we wanted to know what advice he would give a young artist. “Young artists will take time to make money, so a Plan B is required for them to keep doing what they love. One has to be practical and realise that art won’t make you a millionaire. I know many artists who have struggled despite being good. They get glory and fame, but it does not always translate into financial success. An alternative profession for sustenance is a good idea, like giving art classes,” he advises.
Talking about his journey in the aesthetic world, he says, “I was a marketer of textiles, so I was always attracted to aesthetics. I loved arts and craft as a child. In 1996, I saw 200 paintings and I loved it. It was the Harmony art show. It actually took an art show for me to fall in love with art. I had a team and curators who decided what the quality of a piece was.”
So, in painting, does size matter? “I think size definitely matters in terms of impact. However, contemporary homes don’t have enough space to display big pieces. Very big pieces are difficult to sell as the large palatial houses of the past are now gone,” he says.
So, what about self-taught artists? “It won’t be easy for them. They have a longer way to go.”
Talking about the contemporary scene, he says that he loves digital art as well. But he does have his misgivings about it. “What disturbs me is that relatively young artists are selling too many prints. That is not healthy. It has to be limited edition for it to be valuable. I would also like to say that personally, I would not buy a photograph, though I appreciate it. In fact, I do some wildlife photography myself,” he says.
“Also, how a young artist prices himself matters a lot. The price should be reasonable at the entry level. Often, a young artist gets influenced by how others are pricing their works. That is not a good thing. A young artist who isn’t very well known must price practically, considering cost of material and the hours put in. Their cost should be covered. And a curator must tell an artist if the price is too high,” he adds.
Our parting question was, obviously, about his art bucket list. Without a pause, he says, “I always wanted to possess an Anjolie Ela Menon, but I could never afford it.” As we say goodbye, the Pothi team concurs that it is a very good choice.