17 April, 2021

Aesthetics Of Deceit

A skewed logic drives the Indian art mart—proliferating fakes determine an artist's stature

Aesthetics Of Deceit
The American had no idea who the silver-haired man sitting next to him on a plane out of India was. Thrilled about a work of contemporary Indian art he'd bought, he showed it to him, saying it was by "some artist called Husain". A smug smile must have carved itself on his neighbour's face: M.F. Husain had no trouble recognising his work. But that smile faded at second glance: it was a fake. Just as there's more 'Scotch' in India then Scotland ever produced, there are more 'Husains' floating around than the octogenarian artist could paint in three lifetimes—despite the speed with which he churns them out.

Imitation, they say, is the best form of flattery. And Husain must be the most flattered artist in India: he's the most faked living artist. He's not the only one, though. There has been a dramatic increase over the past two years in the number of fakes inundating the secondary art market. Gaitondes, Ram Kumars, Tyeb Mehtas, Razas, Ganesh Pynes, Anjolie Ela Menons, Souzas, Akbar Padamsees, J.S. Swaminathans appear to be tumbling out of studios, even garages it would seem....

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