Eat, talk and buy art at
India's unique art platform
Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) A bunch of women, clad in chiffon and
smelling of expensive perfumes, sip their cappuccinos and
discuss art prices. In another corner, college students talk
excitedly about their favourite painters. The venue is Arts-I,
India's first one-stop arts shop in the capital.
at Scindia House in downtown Connaught Place, it promises
to position art as a complete experience. Little surprise
then that it boasts of a cafe, a store, a gallery, auction
space and more.
the endeavour is Religare Enterprises Limited, which says
it is India's first institutional finance firm to venture
into the business of art.
the economy started booming nearly seven years ago, every
wealth manager in the country has been trying to diversify
portfolios - to provide a wider range of services," Amit
Swarup, head of the Religare Arts Initiative, told IANS.
fits the bill because it is emerging as an independent asset
class globally where people can invest and reap rich returns
as art has the highest appreciation index even in times of
we decided to set up an art fund last year. But we soon realised
that the art market was interlinked - the galleries, collectors,
investors, artists and auction houses could not do without
each other and the best way to bring all the market synergies
together was to create an integrated destination, and not
just a stand alone art fund."
spread over a 12,000-sq ft area, has a documentation-cum-archival
zone, education programmes, investors-artists' interaction
space, advisory services for investors and residency programmes.
fact that the company was a hardcore financial institution
helped because it was sound enough to plan long term - so
as to make art affordable and ensure uniformity in prices
in a scenario where art prices are often artificially inflated
by the media blitz and sale of particular art works over and
over again by galleries.
got in touch with architect-cum-creative visualiser Mukesh
Panika, who headed an integrated art project, Art Aid in New
York, to conceive an innovative platform.
high points of the facility are the art cafeteria that extends
to the open-air terrace and an art store selling wood and
metal sculptures, limited edition prints, miniatures and bric-a-brac.
library-cum-documentation centre is under construction. The
facility, done up in whitewash and glass, has hosted three
exhibitions so far.
Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai and the Triveni Kala Sangam
in the capital also have value-added services, but not a complete
platform. My idea was to take art to another level and position
it as an experience to clients since we were leveraging business
for the cause of art," Panika explained.
art lover Ankhi Khurana, who likes to hang out in cafes and
galleries, feels the fact that it is open to all helps.
need not always buy art. One can just visit the place, see
art, chill out and catch up with some reading. It is a kind
of place that one likes going to," said Khurana, who
purchased an installation, "Laila", from Arts-I
Chadda, whose grandfather owns the property, has bought three
the fact that markets were tumbling and the future of art
seemed uncertain, we decided to let out the space because
the concept was so interesting. It gives an upmarket feel
to the experience of buying art and ensures maximum participation,"
and investors, explained Panika, can bring their families
and friends unlike galleries, where one either sees artworks
or just buys it. "The concept of 360 degree platforms
for art promotion is the trend of the future," Panika
the existing art funds and promotion facilities in India,
the Mumbai-based Osian's Connoisseurs of Art Private Ltd -
which has an art fund, an archive and an auction house - comes
closest to the Religare Arts Initiative.
like Crayon Capital and even the Kotak Art Fund are primarily
art funds, which might follow suit in future, the Arts-I team
art market in India, which has seen a steady growth over the
last decade, currently stands close to $400 million, according
to a conservative estimate by art fund guru Phillip Hoffman.