Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The sorry state of a multimillion-dollar art collection reveals deeper troubles at India's national airline

Mumbai: In the early 1980s, India’s national airline, Air India, commissioned a painting from artist Anjolie Ela Menon to add to a collection of contemporary Indian art that hung in its offices and executive lounges around the world.

Menon created “Inside Outside,” a series of six panels depicting multiethnic faces of Air India travelers and arranged in the shape of a door, and handed it over to the airline.
Some time later, Menon recalled, she was invited to an event at the plush Mumbai apartment of the state-owned company’s chairman, Yogesh Chander Deveshwar. Hanging on one of the walls was “Inside Outside” — except that a panel featuring a boy’s face was missing. In its place was a piece of cardboard.

“I asked Mr. Deveshwar how this had happened,” Menon said. “And he said he had got it in the same condition.”

The lost panel — on its own likely worth thousands of dollars — was part of one of the most important and perhaps most mysterious contemporary art collections in India, a trove of thousands of paintings curated during the heyday of the once-proud airline. Artists say the works have been mishandled and abused, much like Air India itself.
26/07/17 Shashank Bengali and Parth M.N/Los Angeles Times