Dylan Jones: 'Recognition for Indian art is currently running high'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The new Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge has cut the journey across Mumbai's harbour from 50 minutes to eight, so the taxi ride from the airport to the recently reopened Taj Mahal Palace is a lot less stressful than it previously was. Principally because you're more likely to arrive in one piece.

The hotel is only a few minutes' walk away from the art corridor of the city, with the Gallery of Modern Art, the Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda and the Bodhi Art Gallery. Recognition for Indian art is currently running high: in June, Syed Haider Raza's Saurashtra sold for £2.4m at Christie's in London, setting a world record for a modern Indian work of art.

There is also a huge market for rentals. Delhi-based collector Adishwar Puri set up the Art Bank in 2006, which rents out pictures from his stock of 1,500 contemporary Indian artists, including Raza. He has just packed off 300 paintings to a hotel chain spread across Australia, Canada and France.

I went shopping for art in Mumbai last weekend and got taken to Gallery Maskara to see a show by Prashant Pandey, called Shelf-Life. If nothing else, Pandey's show illustrated just how far Damien Hirst's influence has travelled. In an air-conditioned, grey Modernist cavern, only a spit from the Colaba Causeway (a tourist haven full of roadside stores, jewellery shops and restaurants), the gallery looks as though it should be in New York's Meat Packing District, or London's King's Cross.

The literature certainly felt familiar: "Through his use of recycled, reclaimed and found material – like abandoned industrial containers, cigarette butts, can trash, urine and blood – Pandey uses by-products of human activity in new ways".

Of course he does. Which is why he has made a giant skull out of little bags of pee, and an enormous – and quite attractive – flower fashioned from hundreds of cigarette ends. There was also a miniature man made of chocolate, who had melted all over the floor. We were encouraged to think that this was deliberate, but it simply looked like a mistake.

There were other things to buy, but my interest had passed its shelf-life.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'