In Indian tradition everyday life and art were hardly segregated; there was a lot of art in terms of pottery, furniture, utensils, religious images and icons, objects of daily use. Art was not an exclusive preserve of the elite and the rich, the noble and of those who could be regarded to be persons of good taste. Art was, in fact, interwoven with the daily routine, the spiritual dimension, the social existence. It could be reasonably argued that art constituted a republic much before the political republic appeared on the scene both as a concept and a real social structure. It has been a republic where all voices have been given place, whether of the rich and the poor, the powerful and the exploited.
The public spaces such as the temples, their precincts, the courts, the palaces and forts to name a few were all convinced and executed as art pieces and in fact, contained a lot of art. They were both artistic works and repositories of art. The caves of Ajanta were places of meditation for the Buddhist monks, the temples of Khajuraho are worshipping places of various gods including Shiva and carry great sculptures on their walls and insides; The Taj Mahal, the world famous marvel in marble, is a tomb and a great work of architecture and art.
When an Indian is performing puja before a deity or offering prayers before a formless divinity or taking part in a community event, if one looks around carefully, there are a lot of art-objects being used. The presence of art in our life many a time goes unnoticed. It is evident that unnoticed is not absent. From aesthetically decorated but otherwise austere tribal huts to middle class urban houses, from rural house holds to opulent mansions, we could easily see a desire on part of the residents to adorn the walls or the rooms by some kind of art. Any person, if he is human and sensitive, would prefer to live in an environment which is aesthetic and to be told that his or her living abode is rich or well endowed artistically.
Much before the modern times set in, people loved to possess art and to preserve it. Many of them would ensure that the art that they inherited passed on to the succeeding generation. Art occupies a place in the life of ordinary people since firstly there is a natural admiration for and need of beauty; secondly art provides an expansion beyond one’s life and experience and thirdly art fulfils spiritual needs. These reasons existed very much in earlier times. When an army or invader won over a country, a region or a ruler, the looted bounty invariably included arts besides other valuables such as gold, diamonds, jewellery etc. In short, through out history, art has been considered to be wealth and has been collected, preserved and passed on as such. Life has been rich even before the moderns arrived on the scene. One of the factors that contributed to this richness was art.
Why invest in art?
- Art gives pleasure and if chosen properly can bring excellent financial rewards.
- Indian art is attracting an increasing number of new investors.
- Art is an alternate asset class.
- Returns from art have beaten all other assets.
- Indian art is heavily undervalued compared to international art but comparable in quality.
- The art market has a low correlation with the direction of stocks, bonds and other traditional asset classes. This means it can provide a low risk strategy and a powerful diversification effect to a traditional investment portfolio.
Art is basically meant to be enjoyed and appreciated. It adds beauty and sensitivity to living; it makes you see and respond to the world around more and deeper. It is an investment in which beauty is a joy for ever. But more than that, good art the world over, as well as in India, has been rising in value, both aesthetic and economic. It is now treated as an asset comparable to gold, family silver, etc. It constitutes a wealth which you can enjoy and savour as long as you want, but it is also a wealth whose value in the market is forever rising substantially. Art-works are now insured by insurance companies and most banks are willing to extend loans for art. Art now occupies a place of interest and attention not only in life but also in the market. He/she, who invest in art, make his/her present beautiful and future secure.
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." -- Aristotle