A new club is keeping it young - for contemporary artists, galleries and collectors - in a bid to get talking about art
Wadhwani next to Attention, a mixed media work, by Pratap Morey. Pic/Sneha Kharabe
It was a happy coincidence that when Amit Mahateny, 34, decided that he wanted to build a collection of art, he was introduced to a new collectors' club. Mahateny, who lives in Colaba and owns a prominent luxury 5-star in Chennai, is not new to the idea of purchasing artworks. At least, professionally, that is, since the hotel houses some notable works. When it came to building a personal collection, however, it is a taste that he is still pruning. It is a Jekyll and Hyde situation for Mahateny, as he says. Carpe Arte, an informal club of collectors, comes in handy for this reason. "We have been brought together by a common interest and it is a great way for those who want to develop a personal aesthetic," he says.
Less than a month old, Carpe Arte is the brainchild of art consultant Natasha Jeyasingh and software engineer Nathan Wadhwani. With an interest in furthering the conversation surrounding collecting contemporary art, the group has helped Mahateny figure out "a marriage of young, upcoming artists at young, upcoming galleries with young, upcoming collectors." It is a chance for new collectors like him to hash out concerns with counterparts in the club and get to know about lesser-known artists. Thanks to Carpe Arte, Mahateny recently purchased a work by Pratap Morey for around Rs 1 lakh.
Siddharth Somaiya, who has studied art history at the Art Institute of Chicago and Byculla's Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, finds the art world insulated and feels such a group will help young collectors like him
"As young collectors, Natasha and I receive a lot of enquiries from our friends. We thought that creating a club to cultivate this interest and encourage knowledge about Indian contemporary art would be meaningful," says 29-year-old Wadhwani. The name Carpe Arte is a spin on "seize the day", but also alludes to Jeyasingh's visual blog, Artpe Diem, where she regularly posts on India's contemporary artists. As possibly one of the first art collectors' club in the country, Carpe Arte intends to address the need for information and the sharing of enthusiasm for art. After all, clubs exist for philatelists and watch collectors world-over, so why not for art in Mumbai?
"Many young collectors are not aware of the entire process. The need to form a bond with a gallerist or following an artist's practice have an impact in collecting," says Wadhwani. Keeping this in mind, Jeyasingh and he planned an art walk on this month's Art Night Thursday, on March 9, in which they visited three Colaba galleries. They also have a social media presence, and have planned visits to artist studios and private collections in the future. So far, there is no membership fee.
Wadhwani also brainstormed with the group when he intended to buy a work by Jaipur-based experimental artist Nandan Ghiya. Drawn to brighter colours, Wadhwani chose to follow through the suggestions of members of Carpe Arte - a different colour palette, more sophisticated. "Natasha and others in the club noted that I often tend to choose the colour red and needed to look beyond it. It took some time for the work to grow on me but it was a choice I wouldn't have otherwise made," he says.
Carpe Arte is also where Siddharth Somaiya, 27, regularly connects with other collectors in order to inculcate his passion for art. While he handles parts of the noted family business in chemicals, Somaiya has a background in art history, bred at The Art Institute of Chicago and the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum and by his grandfather Shantilal Somaiya, an art collector. Collecting works by emerging artists based out of tier II cities, such as Kolhapur and Coimbatore, Somaiya says, "We haven't seen enough people supporting emerging artists. For a young contemporary artist, a collector goes a long way in supporting him or her."
The greatest apprehension for Somaiya, when it comes to collecting works by upcoming names, is their evolution. A Raza Bindu, for instance, is more in demand these days as opposed to his earlier works. Could the same be said of young contemporary artists? Mahateny's advice is the golden rule of art collecting: if not investment, it has to be a piece you like looking at every day.
The biggest gain through Carpe Arte that Somaiya has found so far is the interaction between collectors, artists and gallerists. "Access is a problem everywhere and the art world tends to be insulated. This group will help open doors easily," he says.
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