Amy Lin of Saffronart explores the benefits of collecting limited edition serigraphs for new collectors
New York: The questions “What should I collect?” and “Where should I begin?” come up very often for collectors looking at modern Indian art for the first time. Of course, there are the great masters, M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, V.S. Gaitonde and others, but originals cost a small fortune and are quite difficult to come by. So what can an aspiring young collector do?
One possible starting point is serigraphs. Later this week, The Story by Saffronart will be featuring a collection of signed, limited edition serigraphs from modern Indian masters such as Husain, S.H. Raza and Thota Vaikuntam. It is a wonderful opportunity for young collectors to purchase works by renowned artists at affordable prices. Now, your next question will probably be: Seri-what?
Serigraphy is an English printing technique pioneered in the early 20th century. It’s similar to silk screening or screen printing, where a stencil is used to print directly on the paper. The stencil is made by stretching porous fabric over a wooden or metallic frame. Next, the printer will use paper or fabric to block off the image’s negatives. The stenciled screen is then placed over the printed medium while oil or water based ink is spread evenly across the screen. Finally, the artist uses a rubber squeegee to press the ink through the porous fabric and onto the paper below. If the artwork requires a different colour, the print is allowed to dry before another colour or stencil is applied. Here is a step by step demo of the process.
The result from this laborious process is a fine quality print that rivals the original but costs a fraction of the price. While a Husain original could easily fetch over $100,000, an authorized and signed serigraph print by the artist will only cost 3-5% of the price.
Skeptics may argue that investing in reproductions is not worth it. But many would agree that serigraphs are fine artworks in their own right. Each serigraph print differs slightly from the next, picking up subtle nuances in character and attitude through the printing process. In addition, most artists will print their serigraphs in limited, numbered editions, enhancing their exclusivity.
Husain was one of the artists who championed the artistic value of serigraphs by collaborating with Anil Reila, founder of Ahmedabad’s Archer Art Gallery. In 2000, Husain designed his own serigraph scrolls and had 500 editions of his Ashtha Vinayak made. This ambitious project was a great success and the prints sold out within days. Husain viewed his art with a populous mentality, always wanting to ensure it would be accessible and affordable to as many as possible. Other galleries such as the Serigraph Studio have legitimized serigraphy as a true art form by holding exhibitions exclusively of these prints.
Perhaps it’s the linear nature of Indian art that makes it suitable for printing or its bold colours that beckon for reproduction. Either way, serigraph prints are an excellent point for young collectors to start their journeys with Indian art. As Relia puts it in an interview with India Today, “The value rises when the edition is sold out and availability becomes scarce.” And later adds, “With Indian art now getting appreciation and applause everywhere, it is important that people have easy access to art prints by the great artists of our country.”