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Indian art comes to London
15th May, 2006

by Jana Manuelpillai

CJA Doss - Flutist (1999)

Athiveerapandian - Towards Nature 3 (2005)
I have to admit that I was a teenage anomaly among my Asian peers. Whilst the majority were already moving in the direction of medicine, finance or law, I made my way toward the economically-barren land of the visual arts.

I was often the object of amusement and frustration at family get-togethers because I was studying Art History rather than 'something useful'. Today I am one of those smug people that can honestly say that I love my profession - something not many of my lawyers or financiers can say with a hand on their heart.

A week ago I opened up my first art gallery, The Noble Sage, dedicated to South Asian contemporary art, particularly that of South India. This exciting new space will provide a revolutionary channel for people in Europe to access and invest in high quality paintings and sculptures from the East.

Following the success of Chinese contemporary art over the last eight years, North Indian art is now at the fore of art investment and is exceeding all expectations in auction houses all over the world. It is hard not to have heard of the famous Delhi painter, M.F. Hussain, who sells his works for close to two million US dollars.

The emergence of a strengthening art market in North India certainly goes hand-in-hand with the country's economic bolstering over the last three years and its ever-increasing fortitude as a world power. It is this financial wave that The Noble Sage Art Gallery rides.

There is certainly a need for such a niche gallery in London. Today the world is a much smaller place than ever before and Western art enthusiasts want to broaden their collection by discovering talent on a global scale rather than restricted to their country of habitude or origin.

At the same time, Indian and Sri Lankan communities in the UK are much more knowledgeable about investment potential - whether in property, stocks and shares or other investments. The Noble Sage will add fine art to that same list.

It also makes sense that they want to capture and reclaim their history in a painting or sculpture. There are others who, conversely, want something cutting-edge for their wall - something more obviously West-influenced in taste and depiction.

Nandhan - the Dream (2000)

The gallery will focus on South Asian art during its first three years of initiation - an area with vast room for expansion. It opened last week with its first show: 'Chennai Excite: New Work from South India'.

This exhibition is the culmination of a year's research into the exciting renaissance occurring in the art world of Chennai, South India. More than a hundred unseen works, predominantly paintings and drawings as well as a number of sculptures, were personally handpicked for the show. For many of the artists, this exhibition marks the first ever time their work has been seen in the West.

Being a British-born Sri Lankan myself, and having maternal roots in Tamil Nadu, I have for a long time been attracted to the idea of creating an artistic dialogue between these two distant worlds. I have been interested in how one might use the medium of art to project a clearer vision of countries, cultures and peoples far away that often we find easier to paraphrase or simplify.

I do hope that you will also decide that for yourself.

Contact information: or 0208 883 7303.

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