THE ART OF COL­LECT­ING

Neville Tuli, Founder Chair­man – Osian Group has over twenty years of ex­pe­ri­ence in In­dian arts, not to men­tion his stel­lar qualication of an econ­o­mist and de­vel­op­men­tal the­o­rist at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics and St. Cather­ine’s Col­lege

MillionaireAsia India - - In Conversation - By Rama Ahuja

Osian Group’s Neville Tulli talks about his foray into arts, how to hone one’s eye to be an avid col­lec­tor and the art des­ti­na­tions that cur­rently top his travel list.

Please tell us a lit­tle about your foray into arts?

On re­turn­ing from Eng­land to In­dia in 1994, I re­alised the need for build­ing a cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture in In­dia, which would be nan­cially in­de­pen­dent and in­te­grated across the cul­tural spec­trum. Over the next ve years, I trav­elled and stud­ied over 200 of In­dia’s ar­chi­tec­tural sites, wrote one of the rst ma­jor books on In­dian Mod­ern Fine Arts, es­tab­lished In­dia’s rst auc­tion house for the arts and started build­ing the archive-li­brary that would one day be­come the base for the Re­search Cen­tre, which nally opens in rst quar­ter of 2018.

What was the rst art­work you col­lected and why?

The rst Euro­pean art­works, African tribal sculp­ture and Ja­panese wood­cuts were col­lected just af­ter my Univer­sity days dur­ing the late 1980s. The rst In­dian art­works pur­chased were those cre­ated by Laxma Goud, F.N. Souza and K. Ra­manu­jam.

Which is your most cher­ished piece?

Hav­ing been on the won­der­ful roller­coaster of life where so much passes through your hands, there’s a re­al­i­sa­tion that you are sim­ply a tem­po­rary cus­to­dian with the duty to pro­tect, nur­ture and share the Dar­shana art­works.Ubl At­tach­ment is a lux­ury I’d rather avoid and there­fore I have no cher­ished items.

Do you have a bud­get in mind when buy­ing art?

Not re­ally, one should not buy art if bud­gets are of con­cern. Yet at the same time, all of us have nan­cial lim­i­ta­tions. The key is not to break your­self too much.

Is there a par­tic­u­lar art­work that has moved you or changed how you ap­proach art?

There are many art­works which con­stantly redene one’s per­cep­tions, but mostly, it is an on­go­ing process

where each art­work al­lows your mind and aes­thetic sen­si­bil­ity to evolve, hence inuenc­ing all the other val­ues within. Also, at each stage of growth, dif­fer­ent art­works change ideas for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, and it can be any ob­ject, small or pro­found; the key is the con­text in which you en­joy those mo­ments.

Where is your favourite artist des­ti­na­tion in the world?

Places that merge great art or mu­se­ums with a joy­ous ex­pe­ri­ence of na­ture are much pre­ferred, hence St. Ives, Ky­oto, Ox­ford­shire and Ubud the next vis­its.

For those who are just dis­cov­er­ing their pas­sion for art, how do you sug­gest they em­bark upon this jour­ney?

Dive deep with­out thought of con­se­quences. Go be­yond your reach and never bud­get or man­age ex­pec­ta­tions. Rarely lis­ten to any­one but your own in­ner voice. Never un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of fa­mil­iaris­ing your­self with art his­tory.

How do you sug­gest a col­lec­tor hone his eyes to­wards art?

One needs to con­sis­tently see, read and lis­ten to wise voices only to reafrm and counter your voice. Fall in love with all that life has to of­fer. One should keep their mind open and share art and hand over to oth­ers, when the time comes, as a true cus­to­dian would. Lastly, avoid dig­i­tal im­agery as much pos­si­ble.

What ac­cord­ing to you are the col­lectibles that one can look at in­vest­ing in, strictly in terms of re­turns?

Art as an in­vest­ment is sus­tain­able only when the his­tor­i­cal signicance of the art­work and the artist have been veried by the crit­i­cal schol­ar­ship with due dili­gence, by the in­sti­tu­tional frame­works that pro­mote art. Se­lect art­works by the In­dian mod­ern masters are thus, at present, what most de­pend upon.

Any do’s and don’ts that come to mind when col­lect­ing art?

Do not lis­ten to gos­sip, ru­mour, hearsay and tit­tle-tat­tle. Fo­cus on his­tory. Study and see as much as you can, read every­thing, un­der­stand the sub­ject in­tel­lec­tu­ally as well as vis­ually.

Any main­te­nance tips that you would like to share with our read­ers with re­gards to their col­lec­tions?

Be care­ful of hu­mid­ity, bright light and dust. Care for your art as you would look af­ter your own chil­dren.

How do you see the art scene evolve in In­dia?

It can only go up­wards and be­come more com­pas­sion­ate, deeper, in­te­grated and em­bed­ded within one’s daily life. Yet, none of this will hap­pen un­less a sys­tem­atic cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture-build­ing ef­fort is not priv­i­leged by both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors. This re­quires not just wealth and ef­fort, but vi­sion.

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