Giving art its due

May 12, 2013, 23:46 IST | Deepali Dhingra

When he was a young man, Vickram Sethi wanted to be an artist. "But my parents kept telling me that I will become poor, so I had to let go of my desire," says the gallerist and curator.

He couldn’t take it up professionally at that time but the love for art didn’t die out. Today, Vickram is one of the leading art connoisseurs, with a gallery of his own. As he readies to have an online auction of some renowned artists, Vickram speaks to CS about the pleasure of owning great works of art and the need for art education in the country:

Vickram Sethi
Who: Vickram Sethi
What: On his online art auction and more
PIC/ Bipin Kokate

Struggle for success
The progressive artists worked at a very difficult time. They worked because this is what their mind, body and soul told them to do — to be an artist. I’ve heard enough stories from artists like Ram Kumar and Husain, about the times when they have sold a painting for ` 1,500 or 2,000, and in those 2,000 all the artists have gone out for dinner and even taken some money back home to his wife and kids. There was no marketing then. Nobody said art is an investment. When you look at the life of artists at that time, it involved a lot of struggle. One has to hand it to them for believing in their passion.

Intangible returns
A lot of people ask me about art as an asset. I say that it gives you intangible returns. You buy art because you love art. It is a great asset for sure but the returns are intangible. You will start falling in love with the paintings and an emotional connect will be formed. Make no mistake, art is about money, but it is also about the pleasure that you derive from it. Imagine that you’re a pet lover and you buy a dog for ` 20. And when you come home and that dog jumps on you and showers his love on you, how can you equate that with any money? It is about the pleasure and happiness you derive from it.

Make art education a must
I feel that art in India is not given the importance that it should be given. Art would make us a very tolerant nation. In the UK, you need to have art as one of the three major subjects. In Europe, you see busloads of children in their school uniforms sitting in front of a painting in a museum and trying to draw it. That is how you start start understanding art and appreciating what the artist is trying to say and there is more tolerance for another person’s point of view. In our education, we close our children to sensitivity in standard fifth. I beleive every child must have an art education. It could be anything that requires the left side of the brain to be utilised. Believe me, we will improve as people. We won’t spit on the road or write ‘Asha loves Ashok’ on heritage structures.  

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