Thursday, July 13, 2017

The story of paintings going missing is hardly new

The story that is keeping the art world agog these days is the story of the missing paintings from the Air India offices surfacing in the art market.

I am not surprised. The only thing I am flabbergasted about is it being talked about – almost to the point of being orchestrated. One or the other painter getting up to claim that his or her painting has surfaced in the market is what is startling. Don’t get me wrong. I am not questioning the veracity of the claims, and in the absence of any paper work on the matter, it is all in the realm of the “maybe”.

This is not the first time it has happened and sadly, it won’t be the last. Suddenly when Air India is in the eye of the storm and Niti Ayog is out to pull the rug under its feet, and seek blanket disinvestment as opposed to the partial loss making ones, this controversy is surfacing to galloping figures from Rs 200 crore to Rs 750 crore and counting. The journalist in me smells a rat.

Who is making the assessment in the absence of the physical works or even their images? They are just wild allegations in the absence of a proper documentation of art works. The fact remains that their core competency lies in flying aircrafts and in the absence of qualified cadre, such problems are bound to happen.

Tuesday night one of the so-called stolen paintings has reportedly been returned anonymously in an unmarked box. I spoke to the director general of Air India Ashwini Lohani, who confirmed that they are investigating it strictly. But the fact is that when there was not enough understanding about the value of art, and in the absence of proper documentation, which is a relatively new phenomenon, collections have been languishing or gone missing even from museums what to talk of other organisations.
13/07/17 Alka Raghuvanshi/Asian Age