Spotlight on India - improvements in institutional infrastructure lead art market recovery


Shilpa Gupta, 'My east is your west'Shilpa Gupta, 'My East is your West', exhibted at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, South Korea, 2014

After a very strong initial endorsement of Indian Contemporary art by the international art market, which started in earnest in the run-up to the 2008 exhibition “Indian Highway” at the Serpentine Gallery, and found its peak soon after the show, the market cooled down over the next few years, finding a bottom in 2012. Since then, it has been staging a slow but sure recovery thanks partly to several infrastructural developments. 2014-2015 will continue this trend with a few important initiatives.

India Art FairThe India Art Fair was founded in New Delhi in 2008 with 36 galleries, 90% of which were local, with only 3 UK galleries. In the 2015 edition, starting January 29th, there will be 85 galleries and over 20 will be from overseas countries such as the USA, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Russia, Israel, Pakistan, Latvia and Singapore. Anecdotally, the 2011 edition of the India Art Fair was the birth place of the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. Our first acquisitions were made there and our India collection was the first to be broadly built up.

The Kochi-Muziris BiennaleThe first Biennale in India opened on 12/12/12 in Kochi, Kerala. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, as it was coined, hosted 80 artists, nearly 50% foreign, and included site-specific works and a sustained education program. According to Tate Modern, Kochi-Muziris Biennale was the best biennale ever (Source: Wikipedia). The biennale welcomed 150,000 visitors in its first month and 250,000 visitors in its second, averaging a thousand visitors a day. Locals stepped up, realizing the socio-economic and cultural impact of the endeavor on the region. The exhibition was set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands, using a combination of existing galleries and halls, site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures. “Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris”.

Jitish KallatFor the second edition of the Biennale, taking place from 12.12.14 to 29.3.15, the Artistic Advisory Committee of the Kochi Biennale Foundation unanimously appointed Jitish Kallat as artistic director. Kallat invited 94 artists from 30 countries to exhibit in 8 different venues in an exhibition titled “Whorled Explorations”. The Biennale has received raving reviews once again. The committee said: “To continue the unique character of this artist led Biennale we are selecting Jitish Kallat as the new curator for the 2014 edition. Jitish brings immense international experience to the next Biennale. He possesses sound theoretical knowledge about contemporary art along with a diverse yet meticulous approach to his own practice. We are confident that Jitish will curate an innovative and experiential second edition.” In addition to broadly collecting Kallat’s work since 2011, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection has five other artists represented in the current edition of the Biennale: Bharti Kher, Raqs Media Collective and Navin Thomas from India as well as Kader Attia and Willian Kentridge from the international circuit. To learn more about Kallat, click here to read his recent interview with Ocula Magazine.


Christie's Auction House, Mumbai, India, 2013In December 2013 Christie’s held its first auction in Mumbai. It was hailed a massive success when it totaled $15 million and more than doubled pre-sale estimates. The 2nd sale, in December 2014, also posted a respectable total of $12 million including the sale of a number of contemporary works by the likes of Suboth Gupta, Bharti Kher and Atul Dodiya, all of which are part of the Tiroche DeLeon Collection.


Rashid Rana, Shilpa GuptaThis summer in Venice, a historic collaboration will take place during the Venice Biennale when Tiroche DeLeon collection artsits, Shilpa Gupta from India and Rashid Rana from Pakistan, will co-represent the region in an exhibition organized by the Gujral Foundation at the Palazzo Benzon. Overcoming years of conflict this first collaboration in Venice, titled after Gupta's work “My East is your West”, will be a significant symbolic step as it brings the 2 nations together under one roof. Both countries have had a patchy representational history in Venice and we hope this is the first step in maintaining a long-term presence in the mother of all Biennales. Good luck to Shilpa and Rashid !

Even though our India collection has trailed other regions in terms of its relative contribution to overall investor returns, we remain convinced of the long term viability of our investments in artists from the region, and will occasionally seek to add new works to what is already a pretty comprehensive collection.