Ashish Anand is globally recognised as the largest collector of modern art from India. Honoured recently as the ‘Collector of the Year’, the Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) CEO continues to support an active acquisition programme for the gallery. Excerpts from the conversations with Medha Dutta.
You can be credited with making DAG what it is today. Tell us about your journey. Oh, it was a fantastic journey. I started in February 1996. The first one year took me to get an understanding of the art scene, because I came from a non-art background. I worked on travelling, meeting people, training my eye, and getting familiar with different artists. And then, 1998 onwards I started buying art. In these 20 years, we have managed to build the biggest collection of Indian art in the world.
Was sourcing forgotten Indian masters difficult?
I wouldn’t say it was difficult to source, but it was kind of difficult to know who was left behind. I was doing research and my focus has always been on buying the works of artists who were not so famous. This
exercise took me to all parts of India. The market was limited at that time, people spoke of about 10-15 artists only. Despite this challenge, DAG has been able to spot talent.
How did the thought of starting an auction house come about? What was the initial feedback?
We try to do things differently through our auction house. We were taking the previews of the auctions to different cities, which was never done before. Each time we did an auction in Delhi or Mumbai, we had the previews in Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. But we haven’t had an auction in the last one year. We are still trying to figure out a different model altogether. We are mulling going online with our auction. But nothing has been finalised yet.
His favourite art work.
A painting by Raja Ravi Varma
If he had not been an art collector.
I would have been a real estate magnate
What art form is the most overrated?
No art form can be overrated
Which modern art movement draws his attention?
One painting he wishes to acquire.
Have already fulfilled my wish
Look out for...
India’s French Connection: Indian Artists in France. Till February 11,
Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre
Picasso: Modern Artists’ Legacy in the 21st Century: A Conversation with Bernard Picasso.
February 7, 7 pm;
Silver Oak Conference Room, India Habitat Centre
Beaux Arts de Paris: Global modernism and the École des Beaux Arts: A conversation with Jean-Marc Bustamante.
February 8, 12 pm;
Gulmohar Conference Room, India Habitat Centre
Navratna: Nine Gems: India’s National Treasure Artists.
India Art Fair
Rodin: A National Treasure for the world: Conversation with Catherine Chevillot of Musée Rodin, Paris.
February 10, 4 pm;
India Art Fair
Sharing spaces: Indo-French
Conference on Art
11 am to 4:30 pm;
India Habitat Centre
(All programmes in Delhi)