A 1959 artwork by SH Raza sits pretty on Tushar Sethi’s mantle. Another 1990 painting by the prolific artist is one of his prized possessions. “The former was gifted by Raza to his wife while they were together at a church in Paris. I enjoy the sentimental thought process associated with the work. As for the other painting, it is part of my family’s personal collection. I have seen the painting while growing up and thus it has a sentimental association more than anything else. I enjoy works of art for a few years and then maybe replace it with something else — but not those with sentimental reasoning. Those I love.” he says.
Tushar Sethi, the CEO of an online auction house called Astaguru, grew up around all things artsy thanks to his father Vikrma Sethi who has actively worked in the Indian art scene for decades now. Understandably, Sethi junior has an affinity towards art that stems from his family ties. “I enjoy the experience of putting together collections for our auctions. Curating such collections is the best part of the auction — not knowing which collector might be interested in which work. Doing research on art works and then finally seeing how the result finally unfolds. Watching the teams execute their responsibilities and generating maximum awareness for the arts is what I thoroughly enjoy,” he says.
Thankfully for Tushar and other art collectors and connoisseurs, auctions aren’t dictated by recession or economic booms, for there is a section of people —as modest as it may be — that unapologetically indulges in it. Tushar explains, “Auctions unlike most businesses are not as affected by market environments although have their own niche perception in the market space. The value of a lot is determined by the buyers, based on how much they believe the value to be. Most artworks are unique and the price is set by buyers. Some art works do well and some might not sell. I believe that auction market is an expanding space,” says Tushar who plans to diversify into other categories as well. “Our next auction as part of this plan will focus on watches and pens.”
Though the markets look more promising, we have a long way to go before we can be as appreciative of art as other societies in the world, he says. “Art is an important part of India’s culture and has a worldwide appeal too. There are several thousand galleries in New York and several hundred museums in a city like Paris. Given the size of our country, we have very few. I see this trend changing in the next few years and with more members entering this segment. Society at large needs art to be in touch with their roots and to understand the history and culture of their country visually.”