To an outsider, the world of art, and the spaces it occupies, can seem daunting to enter. Especially so when you want to start your journey as an art collector. Noted Indian art collector Kiran Nadar wants to disprove you of the notion. The founder of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi, is all set to take part in the upcoming India Art Fair, an event that she hopes would encourage more art enthusiasts to begin their art collecting journey. “(The India Art Fair) is especially important because now it has many younger artists participating, which are more accessible to people. These younger, more contemporary artists expose people to newer and different mediums of art that they can collect for themselves. I think it’s a great opportunity for both artists and collectors.”
The philanthropist believes art and its appreciation has never been more relevant than now. “I think we live in such troubled times. Look at what’s happening around the world,” she says, “I believe, art is a great healer. People should engage with more tranquil and softer areas of life where they can learn about aspects that are not just about the traumatic wars, hate, and crime around them. When I look at what we’ve been through, especially around us right now with the bulldozers razing homes to the ground, it is such a negative environment. To me, art can act as a great form of bonding for the community.”
But this brings us to the point we began with. The common notion that art seems inaccessible to the masses, which hinders art appreciation and the growth of the art scene in a community. Kiran Nadar has a lot to say about that. We managed to catch her before the India Art Fair to talk to her about all things art, art collecting, and building one’s art vocabulary. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation, so if you’re a budding art collector, take copious notes!
HELLO!: Can you recall some of your earliest memories of art, as in what is it about art that made you interested in the field, to begin with?
Kiran Nadar: “It began with my mother, who was always interested in art. She even replicated a few Picasso paintings! So I was exposed to art as I was growing up. But the real interest started when I was building my home and I looked at the artists that I wanted to include in my home, and then I got interested in looking at various artists who I wanted to acquire.”
H: How would you suggest one start with their journey of art appreciation?
KN: “One needs to visit a lot of galleries and read about how art has evolved in India, and around the world, to begin appreciating art. When you start looking at art, it’s important to do a little homework. But what is extremely important for collectors who are just beginning is to visit as many galleries and museums as they can and see the kind of art that is out there to figure out what kind of art they appreciate. It’s really important to build knowledge and appreciation for the art around you before you begin your journey as a collector. It shouldn’t be only with the idea of how much it will be worth, say, five years later. What’s more necessary is to think in a way that lets you imagine things like ‘This is a piece of art that I want to live with’. That’s how the love of art starts. I think this is a really good time to start your art collecting journey because there are so many young artists right now doing exemplary work at an incredibly affordable price point.”
H: But there are countless forms of art that one can explore. How does one figure out their own art vocabulary without being daunted?
KN: “It’s very difficult to teach this to someone. Of course, you can take courses on art appreciation but this has to be more instinctive and that can only develop if you engage with more art-based spaces, like galleries. Formal art education will definitely make you more aware of the history of art, the Moderns, and the Progressives of India, but we’re talking about young art collectors, who are just beginning their art journey. It is really important for them to explore contemporary work around them to figure out what they like or not.”
H: Museums and art exhibits were out of bounds for a long time because of the pandemic. Do you think the lack of an actual destination affected art appreciation in any way?
KN: “No, I don’t think so because there were a lot of opportunities available on the Internet. We did a lot of shows online and found out that there was a lot of interest in art. The pandemic was not the easiest period for anybody but a lot of artists have done some incredible work during this time. One of our upcoming shows features works by Atul Dodiya who did 365 watercolours for each day of the year. We’ve managed to acquire 130 of those for the showcase.
H: Many still consider art to be inaccessible, which could be because of a lack of art education or from an affordability standpoint. What are your thoughts on that and how do you overcome this belief?
KN: “India is at a much lower base point when it comes to art price points when compared to the United States, Europe, or China. But even then it is not easily affordable for newer collectors. So what is necessary is to start to at least look and build an appreciation for the art that is out there. You need to get over the belief that art is inaccessible. Not everyone who goes to a museum or a gallery goes with the idea of acquiring that art for their living room. They go to appreciate it. Young, Indian collectors should first learn to appreciate art that they might not necessarily be able to afford, but they should look at it as an education. Visiting museums or galleries is a great way of learning.”
RPSG Group and HELLO! India are delighted to announce the first-ever HELLO! India Art Awards on April 25 in New Delhi. The awards will felicitate and appreciate the works of established artists, upcoming talent, new media, individual and group exhibitions, galleries that curate and showcase excellent artwork, various mediums of expression, and every domain of artistic excellence there is in India today.
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