On-the-go + On-the-way + Out-of-the way

I have, for several years, had excellent relations with galleries across the country.

When I started collecting, blissfully unaware of who was who, I was guided by the Sarkar of CIMA and by Geetha Mehra and Usha Gawde at Sakshi. All four wonderful women to whom I am forever indebted.

This was 1997.

In 1999, I disappeared from the art scene.

Never stepped into a gallery. Never looked at any piece of work.

In 2005, I decided to get back into it.

Discard what I didn’t like and buy some new sensibilities.

When I decided to sell
the work that I wanted edited from our collection, I realized that both CIMA and Sakshi had helped me make shitloads of money.

I have enormous faith in the entire gallery-collector connection.

Barring three schlock shops, two in Mumbai and one in Chennai, galleries have been good to me.

In my mind, there are three types of galleries: on-the-go, on-the-way and out-of-the way. Allow me to explain.

On-the-go galleries are the big boys. Nature Morte leads the pack in this classification. There’s Sakshi. Chemould I am told, Espace, Anant certainly. You just need to jump on to their bandwagon and the ride’s reasonably safe.

Then there are on-the-way galleries. Galleries that are at the cusp of greatness. Project 88 is the one right on top in this category. There’s SKE in Bangalore as well. Photoink in Delhi for sure. I can say it with certitude that within the next five years Project 88 will be our finest gallery. I am a huge fan of this category because I journey with the gallery. Both Sree and I have immense faith and deep dreams for Baptist, Hemali, and Shreyas. I sit for hours with Devika. Learn at her feet about photography. I return from Photoink feeling small. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Then there are the out-of-the-way galleries: galleries that are feverishly seeking work that is out of the ordinary. Way out sometimes. Here the crown certainly goes to Experimenter in Kolkata. I think Prateek and Priyanka Raja are totally testicular. I think Aparajita Jain is doing a spectacular job of it with Seven Art. And Latitude 28 has great promise as well. Bhavna is a curator, publisher, dealer and gallery owner rolled into one. Equally edgy are Anahita Taneja and Shefali Somani of Shrine. I think the Suchitra Gahlot show was a stunner as was the all-video show that they recently put up.

Finally, I must mention this purely because I believe
 in it. I thought Bodhi was fantastic. It was a great gallery. It zigged and zagged. But yes, Bodhi was good to the collector. I am incensed when people diss Bodhi. The fact of the matter is that Bodhi was operating a rollercoaster. And I tell you what? All of us rode that goddamn rollercoaster so let’s not forget that.

On a different note, what do I look for from a gallery owner: transparency. I never bargain. And therefore I expect a certain character in the transaction.

I look for ownership of the artist. I look for the faith the gallery has in that particular artist. The levels of commitment.

That’s critical.

I look for information. Is the gallery telling me about what’s happening to the artist? His journey. His destination.

And I look for good human beings.

I love the galleries I deal with. And through this piece wish to thank them for helping me pursue my little passion.

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About Author

Swapan Seth is Managing Partner, Henry S Clark, an arthouse. When he is not writing advertising or collecting red wine, world cinema, world music, reading books, chasing trends, blogging tips, learning how to parent, travelling to obscure places and smoking countless cigarettes, Swapan Seth, collects art. Or so he thinks.

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