8th May 2004

Saffron hits a high
Syed Haider Raza

A new high: Bindu Bija Mantra by
S H Raza sold for over Rs 67.9 lakh In the murky world of art deals, Saffron Art comes out cleanest. Saffron Art is the only organisation of its sort in India that has, in a rather diligent manner, added a method to the madness in the art world.

With a carefully laid out corporate strategy, Saffron Art scores a 10 on 10 when it comes to transparency and professionalism.

There are also no pretences to curate - which works just as well for Dinesh Vazirani, head honcho of Saffron Art. Saffron is a shop - and this shop is doing well.

But what separates this shop from the claustrophobic confines of phone booths that double up as painting galleries is the infinite realm of cyberspace.

Saffron functions out of the internet. And from the looks of it, the internet is flooded with art patrons, which is a good sign for contemporary Indian art.
The Saffronart Online Auction has been recognised as the most successful auction of contemporary Indian art. What sets this triumph apart is the fact that it has sold over Rs 7 crore of art over the Internet in three days.

A work by S H Raza sold for an astounding $158,000 while a 1963 F N Souza sold for over $143,000, creating a new price benchmark for Souza's early works. A surprise element in the sale was also T V Santosh who has sold for over 1.38 lakhs. So what next for Saffron?

"We are planning to do a sculpture exhibition with about 25 contemporary Indian sculptors in August," said Vazirani. Sounds like a good thing. Will there be a sculpture auction?

"You'll have to wait and watch," said Vazirani. Having started out in 2000, Saffron Art has also apparently reached a point where wealth management firms are commissioning them to consult on portfolio management.

But will the paintings be real? Relax. Just kidding. Vishwas Kulkarni

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