Magazine article The Spectator

Passage from India

Magazine article The Spectator

Passage from India

Article excerpt

For the West, Indian art is synonymous with temple art. A year ago, on a visit to England, I was struck by just how unknown contemporary Indian art was. While every other person I met had visited India, no one seemed to have even heard of a single contemporary Indian artist.

But for more than a century - from the time when Raja Ravi Varma first used 'modern' art materials such as oil-based paints, canvas and brushes - there has existed a thriving, colourful world of modern art, which has kept abreast with world trends and thrown up a great deal of talent. And in celebration of these 100 years, Sotheby's is holding an auction of the work of 60 artists in London on 8 October. The auction will feature 158 paintings, gleaned from collections around the world.

Until a little over a year ago, however, Indian art had no godfather to help it on to the international scene. A large part of the blame for its anonymity could be traced back home to the famous red-tape which ensures that any painting sold to a buyer outside the country does not reach its destination without a six-month delay, during which time the painting could well become damaged. Indeed, so tired did Sotheby's get of this procedure that it closed its office in Delhi a couple of years ago, only a year after it had opened. …

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