Canvassing support: Art world gathers,looks for ways to frame fakes

While art collectors trooped to the Malaysian High Commission on Friday evening to bid for artwork put on auction by the NGO Khushii,a few miles away,and some hours earlier,several members of the art fraternity assembled at Lalit Kala Akademi to discuss a darker side of the art boom.

Written by Vandana Kalra | New Delhi | Published: February 7, 2009 12:14:12 am

While art collectors trooped to the Malaysian High Commission on Friday evening to bid for artwork put on auction by the NGO Khushii,a few miles away,and some hours earlier,several members of the art fraternity assembled at Lalit Kala Akademi to discuss a darker side of the art boom.

Among those assembled for the discussion were artists,art historians,curators and gallery owners. The audience of not more than 200 tried to find a solution to fake art,and wide applause came for Lalit Kala Akademi chairman Ashok Vajpeyi as he announced the formation of a new panel to look into the issue. “We will work towards the establishment of a body,comprising art historians and critics,and the scholarship scheme at the Akademi will be more art-critic oriented,” Vajpeyi said.

“In addition,a national register will be maintained to allow artists to register their work with the Akademi.”

The declaration came after an hour-long discussion; on the panel were gallery owner Arun Vadhera,artist Krishen Khanna,art historian Yashodhara Dalmia,and curators Gayatri Sinha and Ina Puri. As they touched on different issues related to the subject,from current laws to ideal punishment for fake art,among the suggestions made were the needs for legal amendments and the formation of an agency to deal with such cases.

While Vadhera suggested the establishment of a central agency where fake art can be reported,Sinha said this needs to be formed by a collaboration between the Akademi and private galleries. “The authentication for an artwork has to come from a group of experts,” she said. “This group should include art historians,the artist’s biographer and an individual who has studied the work of the particular artist.

“A technical system also needs to be in place and the artwork should be studied in a laboratory.”

A nod of approval came from the audience,which included gallery owners Renu Modi,Ashish Anand and Sunaina Anand,and artists Arpana Caur and Sakti Burman among others.

Even as Burman pointed out that artists can also find it difficult to recollect their earlier work,Caur urged the Akademi to form a legal cell where artists can put in their complaints if they come across a fake work. “It is difficult for older artists to frequent courts,” Caur said. She recalled an incident five years ago when she came across a gallery in Lajpat Nagar that produced her fake work. “I filed a police complaint but it was difficult to follow up.”

Meanwhile,as minutes of the discussion were being noted down,Vajpeyi pointed out that the meeting was a prelude to another conference,where he hopes to find a solution to tackle the rising number of fake artwork — with the recent case of emergence of S H Raza’s fake work only acting as a reminder of past incidents.

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