Art mart warms up to consultants


Debasmita Ghosh | TNN 

Akhadi kurta, a long sling bag and a miserably pensive face peeping out of an overgrown beard – is this the stereotyped image that springs to your mind when you think of an artist? Well, that may have been true some five years back, when the word ‘struggle’ was an accepted part of life for those who dared tread this path. Fortunately the scene now is far brighter, thanks to the increasing popularity of the Indian art. As the world opens up lucrative avenues in the form of art auctions and investments apart from extravagant art fairs, things are hotting up at the art mart. Considering the amount of money that is flowing into this field today, it’s just a matter of strategising to grab a share of this large pie. 

Claiming a stake in this are not just artists but also art galleries, promoters and the latest addition in the area – art management and consulting firms. Even as Hyderabad, with its myriad galleries, artists, curators and promoters, is gradually growing into a hub of art, there seems to be a battle brewing among the stake-holders. The artists who once struggled to put on display their works are now reaping the rewards of the competition between the galleries and the promoters to ‘market’ their works. 




However this sector still remains highly unorganised in India. In the absence of any monitoring authority or art council. Art consulting and management firms capitalise on this gap and apply management principles to give this industry a professional makeover. Gallery owners on the other hand are tagging such practices as nothing but “a mode of fooling people and making a fast buck”. They say that art consultation by managers, instead of trained artists, will only lead to promotion of undeserving artwork. “Earlier artists were aware of struggle but the fresh breed wants quick success. Art consultants would only focus on business aspects and would not hesitate to promote even junk,” says the owner of a prominent art gallery. Others, however, are maintaining a neutral approach to the whole affair. Nemiraj Shetty, owner of Hasta Art Gallery, says that a decade ago not all art shows were handled by curators but now curators have become indispensable partners. “Similarly, now art management and consulting firms are trying to get a foothold by being intermediaries between artists and galleries and other operations that involve a lot of money. Artists have to understand that while curation is an aesthetically designed activity, consultation is just a business,” he adds. 
But wasn’t the lack of money and exposure that kept many people off this avenue till now? “Yes. In spite of so many talented artists and big galleries here, till date there has hardly been any representation of our local works in the international art fairs abroad. Art curators can only curate shows while art management firms manage the whole affair ranging from logistics to money. Artist needn’t bother about management issues, they can just focus on their work,” says Manohar Chiluveru, who recently took part in the ‘Live art Event’ at Barcelona, Spain, organised and promoted by Rockmagicart, a city-based art management and consulting company. 
“Consultants network with galleries abroad and facilitate the presence of art connoisseurs and collectors so that the artist gets the best deal. We help artists to hold exhibitions mostly in UK and Dubai where there is a huge demand for Indian art” says Rajaneesh Chandra, the owner of Rockmagicart. 

Even as the the debate rages on, art lovers are only too glad to see any development that paves the way for good art and brighter days for artists.



Interview of Manohar

Manohar Chiluveru

Everything about Manohar Chiluveru’s art is bold, colourful and large. Not so, however, the man himself. Modest in his appearance, soft-spoken and very likeable, Chiluveru doesn’t come across as an artist whose interest lies in the conflict between man and his environment. On the contrary, Chiluveru, who is still a new kid on the block in the international arts scene, seems very much in sync with the world outside his studio and has dreamt up an international live art project which involves various media and which will see him hopping from continent to continent in the next 3 -4 years.

I caught up with the artist on his second visit to London, when he exhibited some of his works along with his “live art event” at the M.P. Birla Millennium Art Gallery at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
Bright colours and arches are the signature of his expressionist paintings that are mostly untitled, because, as he tells me, he doesn’t want to condition the viewer.

What is your current project about?

The concept is a journey from a known place to an unknown place. I started the painting in Warangal where I painted some metres of canvas and then moved to Hyderabad where I currently live. I paint one country on one set of canvas and another one on another set and after about 3 years and a lot of travelling I will put them all together  – so one can see the transition from the first place Warangal to the last place I visit – this is the whole project in a nutshell.


The idea is that once I have crossed my own place, every other place is the same to me, whether it is Bombay, Delhi or London, because all these places are new to me. My painting is part of this experience of being in a new environment again and again and interacting with new people.

Why is the live event important to this project?

When you work in studios you will always have an opportunity of choice, because you have plenty of time to choose – and when you choose it means that you are conscious of your target audience and the present. This is what we artists generally do.

In public spaces, however, the scope for spontaneity is much larger and you don’t have so much time for selection. You don’t bother about the outcome and the result so much. The most important part becomes the process. You see, in the creative process there is always the beginning and the end and in between there is the creativity.

All of my art revolves around human conflict with his or her surroundings. The live art events are designed in such a way that people can come and see how I work. The intention, however, is not to complete the work – it may be incomplete or may I work on it again on the same day or another day. My paintings are about how you find yourself in this context.

What influences you while you paint?

Sometimes I work with preconceived idea. For example, I set out to paint a flower with certain elements – this, however, is not a very interesting process for me.

Most of the times I like to start with one idea and then move into another one. Spontaneity is very important to me and generally I like to transfer new ideas immediately to the canvas

Because while you paint, a lot of things go on in your mind and you paint from your memory bank that is made of your own experiences. At the same time there is an element of realising yourself and the choices you make. So when I start with a random colour without thinking about what I am going to paint, the mind will take its own lead. Whatever I paint is an impressionistic idea triggered by my own thoughts, experiences and whatever happens around me.

What inspired you to become an artist? 

I was always a very poor academic and had great difficulty reading things. That’s when I turned to drawing and painting for emotional support. Eventually I realised that if I didn’t push myself, I would miss out. So I worked hard to overcome my learning problem, did my BCom and then even started doing BA Literature until I realised that this was not my cup of tea. That’s when I turned to my first passion, Fine Arts.

Which other artists do you admire?

There are many artists that inspire me, like Kandinsky or Anish Kapoor. But when I find myself drawn to someone’s work I always ask myself why I like the work. When I look at the work of others it has nothing to do with I want to do. I want to understand mainly how they work within their political context and how they build their language – I look more into that rather than their physical work.

Can I tell our readers how you broke into the art scene? How did you get your first exhibition?

My initial work was influenced by the Warangal sculptures, so my first exhibition was in a small art society 150 km from Hyderabad. There are very few galleries in Hyderabad and most artists exhibit in Delhi or Bombay.

How important is it to show your work in a gallery?

In India there are 1000s of galleries and in the last 5 years there has been a drastic change in how they work. Attracted by the increased demand for art on the international market, many galleries fail to have a vision and don’t recognize real talented artists. 90% of galleries depend on someone’s market value or someone’s reputation. In Hyderabad, for example, only figurative work exists and the art scene is dominated by two artists doing figurative work. If you don’t follow it, you have to take your own path.

In any case, most of my work won’t fit into galleries, because I mainly paint on huge canvases. (Chiluveru’s largest painting to date, untitled, of course, was featured in the Limca Book of Records in 2003!)

Chiluveru is currently looking for venues that are large enough to display his finished project. This is when all the canvases will be finally put together in chronological order to form one giant canvas. Once completed, he plans for the final project to show in several cities starting in London. This will complete Part 1 of his massive project which will also see the publication of a book where he logged his daily emotions, thoughts and experiences throughout his artistic journey. 

Part Two of this extraordinary project will be a fictional film written and directed by Chiluveru himself. The film will be about a travelling artist who, like Chiluveru, will be travelling to many different places and meet many different people. The script is currently in development.

All his paintings are for sale and their prices range between £200 – £5000.  The live art project is currently not for sale until the whole work has been completed and has been shown at several venues.