+ Visual Arts Industry in India: 2020 - CII Blog

The visual arts (VA) constitute art forms such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, film-making, and architecture. It also includes applied arts such as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.  

Collectively, they help bind a nation’s ethos and are an important medium of brand projection. Indian artists are second to none. India’s foremost abstract painter, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde’s INR 29.3 crores valuation was not a mere blip, but India arriving on the world’s visual art map.

The VA eco-system primarily comprises of artists, private art galleries, public museums, auction houses and private non-commercial art initiatives. Its value chain comprises of art production, promotion and sales, and art resale. The VA industry constitutes the primary market featuring new and relatively unknown artists as well as more recognised contemporary artists.

The secondary market is where auction houses offer artworks for subsequent resale once these attain prominence for their artistic value, rarity and historical importance. Recent e-platforms, offering curated, branded online auctions across an assortment of art and collectibles, also have significant future potential.

The VA industry also has the inherent potential to contribute to the Indian economy through its direct contributions to employment, skills development as well as promote cultural tourism and the nations cultural identity.

The USA, China and UK between themselves control over four-fifths of the global market of well over USD 56 billion. The minnow India market is on a steady growth from a mere INR 14.6 billion in 2017. Challenges include insufficient public support and lack of funding, inadequate infrastructure, lack of qualified/skilled personnel, art forgery, lack of regulations and transparency, lack of art awareness and exposure and minuscule percentage of wealth spent on arts.

Some measures which could be instituted to bolster the Indian VA industry include:

  • development and maintenance of art infrastructure,
  • creating awareness about the rich Indian cultural heritage,
  • setting up an association/body of professionals,
  • incentivising budding artists,
  • rationalising the tax structure,
  • relaxing the existing trade regulations to propel demand,
  • representation of India at major art festivals and events,
  • active involvement of corporates and business houses and
  • the adoption of technology in the arts industry.

The Government is already playing a proactive role in encouraging the VA industry with its scholarships to young artistes in different cultural fields and its Museum Grant scheme. Government bodies such as Lalit Kala Academy, National Gallery of Modern Art and Indian Council of Cultural Relations have helped in the proliferation of the VA industry.

Factors that shall further propel the VA (Visual Arts) industry in India by 2020 include growing recognition of art ably supported by successful businessmen, city-based art festivals, exhibitions in galleries, art biennales and a new emerging breed of high-net worth collectors that consider art and collectibles as a major asset.

Currently, the Indian arts market, dominated by modern art, is likely to transform as contemporary art sales pick up, supported by a diversifying buyer base. The Internet will continue to revolutionise communications in the visual arts space, enabling art related information to be accessed smoothly by artists, dealers, sellers and buyers around the world. Technology adoption at stakeholder level will also be crucial to gauge authenticity.

The industry fortunes will depend mostly on the nation’s economic performance and distribution of private wealth. Private players, including art galleries and auction houses, will continue to provide depth and support to the evolving VA industry as assets of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in India is expected to reach USD2.3 trillion by 2020.

It will also require proper Government administrative backing to face its internal challenges to align it to other art markets of the world. India will also need to recognise the art and cultural industries as not only potential economic growth factors, but also contributors to its standing as a ‘global soft power’.