Biennale gets a boost: Fundraiser auction raises Rs 2.75 crore for 4th edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale

·        Two paintings of Amrita Sher-Gil sold for Rs 72 lakh

Kochi, Nov 4: Exceeding the bidding estimates by a substantial margin, an untitled artwork of the iconic artist late Amrita Sher-Gil fetched the highest price of Rs 49 lakh while her self-portrait made in 1927 went for Rs 23 lakh as the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s (KBF) second fundraiser auction held in Mumbai  generated Rs 2.75 crore in support of the next year’s fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).


The first fundraiser auction, also held in Mumbai in 2015 by the KBF in collaboration with Saffronart, had raised an amount of Rs 2. 30 crore, which was used for the 3rd editon of the Biennale.


Rs 15-20 lakh was the estimated price for Amrita Sher-Gil’s 1927 famous watercolour before it went under the hammer at the Tuesday evening (Oct 31) auction that was oraginsed at Saffronart’s office in Prabhadevi locality and drew an exuberant assemblage of collectors, artists and gallerists in a display of solidarity for the biennale.


Besides live auctioning, bidding also took place online, on the phone and on the mobile app of Saffronart, the country’s leading art auction house. The proceeds will give an enhanced financial leeway to the Foundation in sustaining the Biennale through 2018 and beyond.


Subodh Gupta’s stainless steel installation, showing his highly eccentric imaginings drawn from everyday objects, went for Rs 25 lakh, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of Rs 15-20 lakh.


KBF Secretary Riyas Komu said, "With the support of artists, Saffronart and the collectors, we have triggered a good momentum for our fundraising initiatives for the 2018 edition of Biennale. Thanks to everyone who supported it, it brings together a much needed ecosystem to sustain such non-commercial projects.”


He added: “Through this auction, we have been able to generate a fair amount of money which will also be used to support art production. In a different context, it shows that there is a great amount of interest and solidarity among the artist community and also the art world to sustain the Biennale and its cultural possibilities in celebrating the diversity.”


In all, artworks of 41 modern and contemporary masters were put on the auction block and 98 per cent of it was lapped up. The list featured, among others, Sahej Rahal, Bharti Kher, Atul Dodiya, TV Santhosh, Pushpamala N., Abir Karmakar, Prajakta Potnis, Parvathi Nayar, Manjunath Kamath and Kerala artists Bhagyanath, Benitha Perciyal, P S Jalaja, KP Reji, Sosa Joseph, Vivek Vilasini and Gigi Scaria. 


Francesco Clemente, an Italian contemporary artist, was the only foreigner whose work featured in the fundraiser auction list. His artwork, Ascending, was hammered down at a tidy amount of Rs 14 lakh and was among the top ten lots sold alongside works by Himmat Shah (Rs 14 lakh), B Manjunath Kamath (Rs 11 lakh), Benitha Perciyal (Rs 9.5 lakh), T V Santosh (Rs 9 lakh), Prajakta Palav Aher (Rs 7 lakh) and G R Iranna (Rs 6 lakh each).


Dinesh Vazirani, Co-founder of Saffronart, said, “We are delighted to have supported the Kochi Biennale Foundation in its fundraising efforts, and look forward to continuing our support to them in the future. The KMB has established itself as a reputed and marquee event with the previous three editions attracting artists and visitors from around the world. We were proud to raise a total of Rs 2.75 crore towards sustaining an event of its scale and kind. It was refreshing to see contemporary artists perform so well; this shows a revived strength in the market. The support shown by collectors and the art fraternity was overwhelming.”


During the first auction in 2015, 93 per cent of lots were sold. The second fundraiser auction saw a 20 per cent increase in total sales compared to the previous edition, thus establishing the auction as an important resource for generating revenues.


Anita Dube, a contemporary artist, is to curate the fourth edition of the KMB, which begins in December 2018. The KMB, which made its debut in 2012,  has now become a marquee exhibition in South Asia and elsewhere, catalysed the production of hundreds of artworks, and hosted over 15 lakh visitors comprising Heads of the State, art patrons and the man on the street.






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