BANGALORE: Recently, a Raj-era painting was auctioned at Bonhams, one of the United Kingdom's premiere art dealers, for £458,000 (around `44 crore). In the past few years, Indian art has become increasingly popular in the British art circuits.
But not many know artists beyond the Souzas and the Husains. Thus, to bring to the fore the rich portfolio of contemporary Indian art and give the ‘lesser-known’ paintings the attention they deserve, Atria Gallery was born.
Atria Gallery is a London-based organisation run by two British-Indian women entrepreneurs. Neetika Garg and Amita Shankar, the founders, had dealt with art buyers, auction houses, artists and investors for several years through their independent business ventures. However, throughout, they were in search of a model that would help popularise Indian art.
“This is how Atria Gallery took shape in 2014,” says an enthused Neetika and adds, “Our portfolio is already an extensive range of contemporary Indian art mirroring the wide variety of skills, talents and traditions that are the hallmark of the Indian art scene.”
Currently, Atria works with several artists whose work is themed around women like SG Vasudev (famed for the SHE series of mostly oils on canvas), Niladri Paul who has painted extensively on the 'Navarasas' and Rahul Deshpande, a young artist who specialises in the 'play of light and shadow' and a series of works on village women.
Neetika adds, “We also feature several relatively unknown artists: Anjali Bansal, a young woman artist who paints exclusively for us and specialises in sketches using archival ink on paper.Her work is utterly unique and we have already sold three of her works. Then there is Kanak Maity whose forte is traditional subjects with a modern twist. We sold this 19-kilo metal sculpture to an art admirer within the first few hours of our opening exhibition!”
“We have everything— paintings including oils on canvas, acrylic on canvas, watercolours, sketches, unique artefacts such as bronze statuettes, metal carvings and carved wooden panels, as well as stone sculptures. Doubtless, this portfolio will expand and we are thinking of adding more items - such as copper works and tapestries,” she adds.
The road ahead
“Our launch event in West London was a significant success with attendance from a cross section of art lovers, buyers, media and senior members of the British art circle. People loved the art that was displayed and sales started on the very first day,” exults Neetika.
She adds that three more exhibitions have been finalised.
"Apart from this, we aim to become an umbrella organisation that showcases not just our own portfolio. We seek to enrich our offering to art lovers in the West by selecting other works of art, particularly those that originate from women-run organisations or are themed around women and women's issues.
We are particularly sensitive to the plight of women in India and are in talks with organisations that fight violence against women. We want to pledge a portion of our proceeds to these charities,” she adds.