As an artist, Madhuri Bhandari says she doesn’t believe in affordable art. Strange then that she is participating in the Affordable Art Fair in New York, which incidentally happens to be her third outing at the annual event. “I personally believe that art cannot be tagged. An artist’s journey decides the prices of his or her works. People should definitely invest in art, especially because art is appreciated even during bad times,” says Bhaduri.
An artist with decades of experience and who boasts of A-listers in Bollywood and the film industry as regular clients, Bhaduri admits that the art scene is growing in India but only performing arts like dance and music get due importance. “An art piece is unique as it is an image of the artist. An art piece is one-of-a-kind, once made can never be duplicated which adds to the value. Economically also the art market has grown and if we want art to become a serious profession we need people in India to invest and believe in the artist for it to match international standards. Art should be taken more seriously,” she says.
Bhaduri, whose journey as an artist started in 1977, speaks about the Affordable Art Fair which launched in London’s Battersea Park in October 1999. “Over 2,10,000 art enthusiasts visit the fairs globally, which takes place in 10 cities. They can take their pick from a mix of local, national and international galleries showcasing a wide array of affordable artworks by established and upcoming artists. Great art is for all is the idea behind the AAF, and to make contemporary art accessible to everyone,” says Bhaduri who is one of the few Indian participants at the fair. Previously, she has attended fairs in Dubai and Singapore.
Bhaduri has had hundreds of solo and group shows in India but says the experience of an international show is completely different. “The crowd is diverse and people are well aware about art abroad as compared to the audience in India,” she says. She adds, though, that AAF is not the best place to be for an established artist as attendees are seeking more of decorative art, the taste for serious and high end art is not cultivated.
Asked why India doesn’t see such exhibitions on a grand scale, Bhaduri avers that the perception of people back home is to only attend what is popular and consider it good. “The herd mentality exists in a very big way,” she says.
Art in India, according to Bhaduri has become the privy of the elite and blames it on the conditioning from an early age. “In India, art is not mandatory or taken seriously during childhood nor do we have enough colleges to support art. Hence it has only been perceived as elitist, only for those who are well travelled and have the means to support it,” she says.
Bhaduri, who hopes more foreign galleries come into India to help educate our audience about art, says, “International art is priced a lot more than Indian art and the exposure of the same is what makes all the difference. Indian artists needs support unlike other fields where due value, respect and exposure are provided. Art can definitely be made more accessible by organising fairs and art events, putting up art in public spaces, and holding biennales that automatically creates awareness.”