As tumultuous 2020 was for the art industry, forcing galleries and museums to close and driving collectors to digital platforms, a significant part of both viewing art and buying it has changed. Experts from the world of art predict that the virtual is here to stay and 2021 will continue to present opportunities for all stakeholders to engage as a community.
According to Sanjoy K Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, Covid-19 has certainly put a spotlight on virtual arts and the entertainment sector. He said: "'Intimate and focussed' could well be the new mantra to replace 'bigger and brighter'. Solo performances could bring talent and excellence back to the fore. Innovation in social and cultural celebrations and incorporation of the arts to provide a sense of place, identity and tradition, are the need of today and tomorrow. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and virtual reality could help traverse the world instead of the flatbed or the cramped seat. Hosting a virtual performance requires the same care and attention as a live event."
He added: "The sad reality is that without policy intervention and strong state support as we have seen across Europe and the developed world, the entertainment and arts sector will find it difficult to survive the twin onslaught of the pandemic and its consequent economic downturn. What is rarely understood is that the Creative Economy is a necessity and not a luxury and will lead to job and wealth creation. Without the arts, you will have neither innovation nor creativity!"
Roshini Vadehra, Director, Vadehra Art Gallery told IANSlife: "2021 will have the Indian art world slowly come back to the physical space. Galleries like ours are now holding physical exhibitions at our gallery spaces. The digital initiatives in 2020 have drawn in a new crop of collectors with several young people starting to build collections. The audience that the digital space has helped build will continue to expand with 2021 also having a hybrid model of virtual and physical for exhibitions, art fairs and auctions."
Somak Mitra, Director of Kolkata-based Gallery Art Exposure added: "Due to the pandemic, we have made a major shift in boosting our social media presence which resulted into reaching out to a lot of young collectors across the world. We see this trend getting boosted further in 2021 where social media will play a big role in boosting our overall sales. We also see cutting edge contemporary art hitting it big in 2021."
Seeing a silver lining, noted artist Seema Kohli believes that the virtual space is here to stay and the pandemic has opened doors to new possibilities of online buying.
"We can give in to the fact that people are spending more time at home and also indulging in various online auctions, art appreciation courses, visiting virtual shows. This they were probably not doing earlier because of travel time which they are now gaining by going online. In fact, art saw different openings in online auctions and online buying through galleries too. International buying was much easier and boundaries became more fluid. The galleries which were opening only within states saw the interested buyers not only nationally but internationally. The works with lower prices were easily accessible and so were the works of more established artists and also masters. The markets seemed to be booming in many areas. I do see this not as a trend but a way of life," Delhi-based Kohli told IANSlife.
Art curator and critic Priyanka Banerjee, believes artists were compelled to take recourse to the virtual media during this time, and anticipates a greater demand for tranquil, green spaces in the visual arts, as most of the people have led a quarantined existence. "I see a greater appreciation for fine arts. Artworks, sculptures, photographs on nature will be in demand and will soothe the senses. Nature imageries are synonymous with tranquility, rejuvenation, renewal and growth- all of which will be the focal points of artworks in the coming year."
Artist Sangeeta Gupta said, "I have been contemplating on this issue for the last nine months. Art needs interface, visual conversation. But it is not possible in the present scenario therefore, the digital platform becomes the only recourse for display and sale of art. The new generation prefers to buy everything online, art will be no exception."