17th Mar 2006

Sold for a crore
Atul Dodiya's oil on canvas creates record at last night's online auctions
Saffronart's Dinesh Vazirani can hardly believe it. Today, 425 people were online bidding furiously for Indian contemporary art at never-heard-of prices. Atul Dodiya is the first young artist (besides veterans like M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta and SH Raza) to reach the crore mark.

When we checked with Saffron at 5.30 pm yesterday the 1987 oil on canvas, 'As though he listened' had already hit 1 crore. The closing bid came in at 9.30 pm and is Rs 1 crore 21 lakh.

So why are people bidding for a painting by a relatively young artist, who was worth Rs 2 lakh at the 2002 auction, at a price that veterans have just touched?

Says Vazirani, 'The interesting thing about Atul is change. He explores and creates his own boundaries.

This work is special since it's from an earlier period and serious collectors who don't have this period are willing to go the extra mile to acquire it.'

The other factor that swings in Dodiya's favour is that he has recently garnered a lot of acclaim internationally with several shows in the UK and US.

'What people don't realise is that these artists are also selling at high prices at galleries. Recently, Anju Dodiya (Atul's wife) sold for US $ 9, 00,000, (Rs 39,982,500) at a US gallery,' says Vazirani.

Apparently contemporary painters attract a different buyer base than those who bid for the Bombay Progressives and the moderns, 'Physicians, doctors, investment bankers aged between 35 to 45 years feel they can relate to this art a bit more since it reflects the concerns of their generation. And they are currently the section of society with the highest buying power,' reasons Vazirani.

Add to this list the usual lot of dealers, collectors, investors and galleries who also bid and you have a demand curve that has gone very high. In effect, Dodiya has achieved a price in four years that it took M F Husain over 30 years to establish' Talk about being born at the right time!

The artist is currently travelling in the US was not available for comments.

Atul @ the auctions
2006 Rs 1.21 crore 2005 Rs 21, 39,521
2003 Rs 2,52,000
2002 Rs 2,74,000
2001 Rs 59,993
Georgina Maddox

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