Gurgaon is perhaps the only city that boasts of galleries where you can find artworks with prices ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25 lakh, sharing the same wall space.
When Vinita Dasgupta, an artist, shifted to Guragon from Delhi two years ago, she found that her figurative works rendered in pop style found much more acceptability in the Millennium City than Delhi where she lived for over a decade. “Unlike in the capital, where people are more conservative in their approach to buying art, here in Guragon they are more open to the experimental art of young, upcoming artists,” says Dasgupta. “My art found a whole new clientele in Gurgaon.”
Her buyers are young corporate executives who are buying art without caring for the stature and name of the artists. The result: The Millennium City is quietly becoming a Mecca for upcoming artists. Gurgaon is perhaps the only city that boasts of galleries where you can find art works with prices ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25 lakh, sharing the same wall space.
Take for example Gallery Alternatives, where you can see the works of young artists displayed along with those of masters such as SH Raza.
Located in Mega Mall, it is the oldest gallery in Gurgaon. Manu Dosaj, the owner, says: “Our gallery attracts both young executives buying art for the first time and also seasoned art buyers. A lot of visitors to the mall walk in driven by curiosity. They ask a lot of questions about art and many of them end up buying too,” says Dosaj
“Senior artists do not need galleries; they have many avenues to sell art. But there are many young buyers here setting up their homes and young artists exploring a new kind of art, waiting to be discovered. This makes Gurgaon an interesting place.”
Shobha Sengupta, owner, Quill And Canvass – another prominent art gallery and bookshop in Gurgaon that promotes young artists – says that in Delhi, galleries like to sell works of artists who are brands and are safe bets. But those in the Millennium City put a lot of premium on young artists.
“But I ensure that the young artists we exhibit have studied art, mastered the technique, composition and boast of certain originality in his or her works,” she says. Her gallery in South Point Mall has hundreds of artworks on display on large sliding panels. Talking of her buyers, she says that most of them are young professionals. “Not all of them have deep pockets but appreciate art. Many buy art from us on installments,” she says.
Online art galleries that mostly sell works of young and upcoming artists say that a substantial chunk of their business comes from Gurgaon. “Nearly 60% of our sales in Delhi/NCR are from Gurgaon,” says Shobhit Arora, founder, World Art Community, a Gurgaon-based online platform for arts and craft.
Unlike in Delhi where the art scene is dominated by collectors who buy art as investment, young professionals in Gurgaon buy art to decorate their houses, he explains. “A lot of them are middle-class people who have risen the corporate ladder. Net-savvy, they like to buy art that suits the décor of their homes, and best define them as individuals. They are not interested in the name and fame of the artists,” says Arora.
Nikhil Giridhar, chief operating officer, Best College Art, another online art platform, says that 30% of their sales across India come from Gurgaon. “We get the maximum sales from Mumbai and Gurgaon. The works sold in Gurgaon are mostly in the price range of Rs20, 000 to Rs1.5 lakh. The buyers are young professionals for whom good art means art that suits their taste. A lot of interior designers in Gurgaon are also buying such art,” says Giridhar.
Alpana Kataria, a Gurgaon-based artist known for her impressionist work, says that she sells a lot of her paintings to interior designers and young couples, “Their only concern is whether the art work they intend to buy is going well with the theme or idea of their house. “A lot of my work priced between Rs 10,000 and Rs1 lakh is sold online. Many buyers also contact me directly,” says Kataria, who teaches visual arts at a Gurgaon school.
“Every generation has its own preference and reference point in art and culture. Most people in Gurgaon are young and are lapping up the experimental works of young artists. It good for the art, which I have always believed need to be democratized,” says Alka Raghubanshi, a well-known art critic.
Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, 35, a Gurgaon-based artist, says that art needs patrons and Gurgaon with such a large population of young, well-off professionals has lots of them. “It is certainly a place where young artists must invest their time and energy. But the city needs more art spaces,” he says.
Over the years, the number of art galleries and art spaces has been increasing. Apart from Gallery Alternatives and Quill and Canvas, there are quite a few others such as Art Pilgrim, Peacock Art Gallery, Devi Art Foundation, etc.
The city is also experimenting with new ways of taking art directly to art lovers and buyers. Some galleries, including Chennai-based Apparao Galleries, and Gallery Alternatives are now displaying art works for sale at plush residential condominiums such as DLF Aralias, The Magnolia, and Laburnam. The lobbies and the club of Aralias currently have on display the works of different artists in price range of Rs 45,000 to Rs 10 lakh. The Magnolia has works by Bandana Kumari, which is like a curated 24/7 show.
“Most residents in these complexes are high-net worth individuals. Our gallery has exhibited 60 works at Aralia,” says Dosaj. “We get lot of inquiries from both residents and visitors there. We have sold art from there.” Many artists such as Kataria also exhibit their works in hotels. “In Gurgaon, art exhibitions in hotels are a regular affair and attract a lot of young art lovers,” says Kataria.
Talking of how Gurgaon’s art scene has evolved over the years, Dosaj says when she opened her art gallery in 1999, a lot of people were skeptical. “They joked that agriculture is the only culture in Gurgaon, but eventually I have been proved right. Now Gurgaon has a silent but fledgling art scene,” she says.
Shobha Sengupta agrees: “The biggest joy of having an art gallery in Gurgaon is the fact that the city is home to young people from all parts of the country, who are well-travelled, highly educated, and appreciate art.”