Bodhi bandh

The invite for the last show at Bodhi Berlin is a photo-exhibition of Pablo Bartholomew’s photographs taken during the filming of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi-a fitting closure to the Bodhi branch that has shown the works of Riyas Komu and Shilpa Gupta.

Written by Georgina Maddox | Published: February 10, 2009 3:51 am

One of the most reputed art galleries is downing its shutters in Delhi,New York and Berlin

The invite for the last show at Bodhi Berlin is a photo-exhibition of Pablo Bartholomew’s photographs taken during the filming of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi—a fitting closure to the Bodhi branch that has shown the works of Riyas Komu and Shilpa Gupta.

Besides,news of Bodhi shutting down its New York and Delhi branches too,has made the art world sit up and take notice. “Any business today has to refocus their strategies on their core business. Consolidation rather than expansion is the key,” Sharmistha Ray,manager of Bodhi Art Mumbai,cites reasons for shutting shop.

Bodhi is owned by the reclusive Delhi based businessman and collector,Amit Judge. “It’s unfortunate that negative speculation is being fuelled within the art space,but the truth of it is,art has actually fared better than other asset classes,and has seen less of a devaluation than either stocks or real estate.”

Ray goes on to indicate that Mumbai is a more buoyant market than Delhi which is why programmes here will be less affected. Europe and the US are both badly hit by the recession and people in the market believe that the recession will deepen. “One would rather build on strengths; it is true that the markets in Europe and the US have been pulled down and it is unreal to expect us not get affected by it,” she reasons.

While the markets are grim in the western world,South East Asia seems to be a better place to do business. Sakshi Art Gallery opened a new gallery in Taipei,Taiwan,on February 6. Clearly the sagging economy does not seem to have dampened Sakshi’s spirit. The reason behind this steadfastness is perhaps because Sakshi has been longer in the business and knows the ropes better.

Given that Sakshi opened long before the art boom took the markets by storm,its approach and pattern of investment is aimed towards longevity rather than quick returns.

“At this point,one must examine why people are in this field,their priorities and reasons for dealing in art,painting or collecting. There were days when artists in tattered kurtas painted despite not knowing when their next meal was coming from. They did not stop what they wanted to do,because they believed it was their raison d’etre,” says Usha Gawde manager of Geeta Mehra’s Sakshi.

What about the other big galleries in the city? As Shireen Gandhy rightly said on the night of her gallery Chemould Prescott’s anniversary,“We cannot shut,not now not ever,since we have been around before the private gallery system was even institutionalised in India.” Perhaps in matters of business experience matters.

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