Over the last year, Osian’s Creative India series of auctions showcased some of the country’s finest artwork, glued together meticulously by regional themes. Some exemplary artwork from Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Mumbai and Baroda has been featured in previous auctions.
In the concluding chapter, Creative India promotes some of the finest artistic specimens from Goa, Cholamandal and South India while paying subtle homage to the exploits of Tipu Sultan and Mahatma Gandhi.
Prolific artists from different eras and will be featured in the 11 day-long festival of art. Henry Singleton, the 18th century British historical painter and student of the legendary Ozias Humphry, will have one of his most famous paintings The Assault and ‘Taking of Seringapatam on display.
The original bronze study of Gandhiji’s March to Dandi by DP Roychowdhury, a rare Tanjore painting of devotees and the temple car will also be conspicuous headliners from history. Also, Indian masters such as KCS Paniker, FN Souza and Laxma Goud will be featured.
When asked if it is worrisome for contemporary young artists to be overshadowed by the works of such masters in this auction, Neville Tulli, chairman and founder of Osian, has a rather remarkable insight to share.
“Artists like Riyaz Komu are probably more popular than Paniker or Ramanujam among many new collectors. The awareness and respect for history is just not there, but that is fine on one level. Younger artists have achieved their burst of financial success, maybe a bit too early so as to nurture their creativity to great heights, but still, that is better than no success.”
Tulli believes that the individual idealistic voice is not lost, only more suppressed. “To be truly bold, meaningful and different is not the norm, it is a rare exception. Few contemporary Indian artists, if any, are reaching global acceptance, both critically and financially,” he says.
However, it is not all doom and gloom, as Tulli envisions a 30-year plan which marries financial discipline with cultural activism. He says, “Until 5,000 years of our civilisation tackles our public’s mindset together, the Indian will not be energised enough to respect living heritage. When you begin to see a Tipu Sultan-related work with a Riyaz Komu and a Tanjore School painting on a daily basis, a sense of cohesion enters the mindset. From this emerges a renewed pride, then confidence and respect and soon love. Eventually, engagement and participation emerge. Then, a meaningful cultural movement is possible.”