Ganieve Greval is Christie's India representative and this 31-year old has a diploma in Fine and Decorative Arts from the Christie's Education, London. After a brief stint in London, she came back to India to help make Indian art as well known and put it on the world map. So, what made her get into this field, which is only just blossoming.
She told CNBC-TV18, "For me, it was more of a passion-driven thing, more than anything else because when I got into it, there was really no where to start from. I did my course at Christies Education in 1997 and I came back to India, after working at Christie's, for a short while, in London and I didn't know where to start because there were a handful of galleries - that was about it - there was not much else going on. In fact, the Christie's office had just opened here at that time."
She adds, "The Indian art market has changed a lot from when I started out. Today, it's recognised all over the country - they recognise it and they talk about it. Everything wants to be a part of it and it has been written about a lot. So, in a lot of ways, it is much easier but it's also challenging because there is so much going on and it takes up so much of your time, and as my role as Christie's representative in India, I don't just deal or look after contemporary Indian art. I look after all Christie's sales and all categories of their sales - be they jewellery, watches, antiques etc."
"We've managed to a create a market for Indian art in the international market because that's where we have all the sales. It's not only seen by Indian collectors or NRIs but it is also seen by international collectors. We're kind of broadening our scope in that way."
Prior to an auction, Grewal is supposed to keep herself abreast of all facets of a painting - from the trivial to the complex. She sees great potential for contemporary Indian artists. But what does she think of the constantly surging prices? She explains, "As far as the prices they are commanding, they are obviously being met. The market is ready for those kind pf prices."
She has seen the market make a transition from the time she began working and what she finds exciting is working in other categories like jewellery and watches, which she finds really fascinating. She says, she has to study about all of it and know everything about what they are selling. She also feels that the best collections in the world belong to people, who have bought what they have liked.
For someone who appreciates art so much and has made a successful career of selling it to so many, she, however to her regret, is not very good at painting, and wishes she was! But that does not stop her from making sure her knowledge helps channel some gorgeous art in some very lucky people's homes.
How much money is Indian art raking in? A lot and if you had any doubts, here is what happened at the Saffronart's online auction. With March being the month when crores worth of Indian art goes under the hammer the world over, Saffronart's auction of contemporary Indian art has already set the tone by making and breaking records.
Saffronart concludes its contemporary Indian art auction at an astounding value of approximately Rs 19 crore. At no.1 is a larger-than-life work by Ravinder Reddy called 'Radha 2007' that sold for Rs 1.5 crore. At no.2 was a Anju Dodiya, which sold at roughly Rs 78 lakhs and no.3 was saucepan man and artist Subodh Gupta, whose art sold at roughly Rs 75 lakhs.
The real question though is: is it fair to buy and sell contemporary works of art that are as recent as 2005 and 2006 at an auction being held in 2007? And is it fair to pay the same price for these recent works that you would pay for works by the masters?
Well here is a little bit of advice for the neophytes. The key lies in understanding that, the price you pay for an artist at an auction should not translate into the price you pay for that artist in the primary market or at the gallery.