To Himeji and back: What this Japanese fish businessman has done for modern Indian art

Ahead of Pundole’s public sale of chosen works from the Glenbarra Art Museum, Masanori Fukuoka on what introduced him to India and his art discoveries

Masanori Fukuoka, 67, who started accumulating modern Indian art in 1990, might be probably the most important Asian collector you’ve by no means heard of. Back then, when few, both at residence or overseas, have been even conscious of the Indian arts scene, Fukuoka was making common journeys right here to amass a broad array of artists. A businessman with pursuits in fish processing, he used a few of his manufacturing unit area in Himeji, Japan, to arrange the Glenbarra Art Museum in 1991, that includes the works of over 60 Indian artists.

This week, Pundole’s is holding an internet public sale of 156 chosen works from the gathering, which incorporates important works by VS Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain, Arpita Singh, Jogen Chowdhury, Nasreen Mohamedi, FN Souza, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, J Swaminathan and Akbar Padamsee.

MF Husain’s portray ‘Theorem Thirteen’. It belongs to a gaggle of works accomplished within the 1970s when Husain was experimenting with the distillation of types to pure geometric parts. The particular shapes within the work recall, maybe sub-consciously, the never-ending horizon of the ocean; particularly the blue kind, which might resemble a sail, and the brown semi-circle which captures the moon.
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Special Arrangement

Fukuoka was a pioneer. Two years after organising his museum, he revealed a seminal guide, titled Contemporary Indian Art. His efforts propelled different Japanese art establishments to show Indian art. Later, in 1997, the Government of India invited Glenbarra to carry an exhibition on the National Galleries of Modern Art in Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Fast ahead to the start of the 21st century and Fukuoka started to ease up on his position as a cultural envoy and started accumulating works solely for his pleasure. In 2002, he bought Tyeb Mehta’s Celebration, which, at $317,500 (roughly ₹2.Three crore), set a document for the very best value ever paid at public sale on the time for an Indian portray. He additionally started culling the works he owned and had his museum redesigned — it re-opened in late 2019 to essential acclaim. The upcoming public sale is to pare down the gathering to a manageable measurement for the brand new area.

Excerpts from an interview:

What drew you to India and its art?

I first travelled to India in 1975. As a scholar of Buddhism and an admirer of Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry and Satyajit Ray’s movies, I used to be drawn to the nation of their origin and quickly turned an everyday customer. In 1990, I found Indian up to date art on the NGMA, Delhi, and was deeply impressed. As I sought out the work in [other] galleries, I realised how extremely undervalued it was when in comparison with its western and Japanese counterparts. I began accumulating Indian artists to carry their work to the eye of Japanese audiences.

Jogen Chowdhury’s Couple II: The woman is deeply sensual; her sari-clad figure crowned with thick, curling tresses and adorned with heavy jewellery. She poses for her male suitor, who appears to gaze at her with open admiration, creating a palpable tension in the empty space between the two figures.

Jogen Chowdhury’s Couple II: The lady is deeply sensual; her sari-clad determine topped with thick, curling tresses and adorned with heavy jewelry. She poses for her male suitor, who seems to stare upon her with open admiration, making a palpable stress within the empty area between the 2 figures.
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Special Arrangement

Did you face challenges within the preliminary years?

I didn’t face many challenges whereas buying art in India. However, in Japan, it took a very long time for my assortment to realize acceptance as they’d by no means seen Indian up to date art earlier than and couldn’t perceive why the president of a meals processing enterprise was accumulating it and constructing a museum for it in his manufacturing unit!

Your assortment options the best modern Indian artists. How did you study them?

When I first began accumulating Indian art, there have been hardly any books on the topic. Most of my schooling occurred by visiting the National Galleries of Modern Art, gallery exhibitions and artist studios. To bridge the hole, a number of years later [in 1993], I revealed a guide that lined the careers of 62 Indian artists from my assortment. Initially, as a substitute of focussing on art that appealed to me, I collected a variety of artists and, due to this fact, on the time, the museum’s assortment was fairly various.

In Fukuoka’s phrases

  • “I do not advise others on collecting art. But a simple rule of thumb is to follow your gut instinct.”

Why was it essential for you to open a museum?

Since modern Indian art was under-appreciated in Japan, I felt it was essential to share what I had collected with the Japanese public. The most effective manner was to open a museum. In order to maximise my viewers, I authored the guide that additionally attracted museums round Japan to take discover of the gathering and curate exhibitions from it.

Any moments of remorse in your accumulating historical past?

When it got here to acquisitions, there have been occasions after I listened to the recommendation of others (The Pundole’s catalogue mentions FN Souza’s Mystic Repast and MF Husain’s Spider and the Lamp as missed alternatives). I’ve since discovered to belief my instinct, which has stood me in good stead.

Artist Arpita Singh’s painting ‘The Seashore’. Singh, who has often located her images in the dense urban jungle or charming, interior domestic spaces, has wafted her characters to the seashore. The narrative embedded in the scene is intriguing and each individual has a story masked by a stoic demeanour.

Artist Arpita Singh’s portray ‘The Seashore’. Singh, who has usually situated her photos within the dense city jungle or charming, inside home areas, has wafted her characters to the seashore. The narrative embedded within the scene is intriguing and every particular person has a narrative masked by a stoic manner.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Why did you pare down your museum assortment from 62 to 10 artists?

After a number of years of accumulating, in 1997, I used to be invited by the Indian Government to showcase my work in a travelling exhibition titled ‘Image-Beyond Image’, on the National Galleries of Modern Art in Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. This was an enormous turning level. After that, I used to be assured the way forward for Indian art was safe. So, for the primary time, I began to gather completely for myself. Naturally, this led to a pruning of my assortment to concentrate on artists whose work appealed to me. I rebuilt the museum on the manufacturing unit to raised go well with the altering mission.

What recommendation would you give somebody who needs to purchase art?

I don’t advise others on accumulating art. But a easy rule of thumb is to comply with your intestine intuition.

Your suggestion for collectors for whom value is a priority?

Collect the most effective art which you can afford. Every now and then, push your self to amass one thing really particular.

A painting by Ram Kumar (1924-2018) titled ‘Nest’

You are planning to have a present on celebrated artist Nasreen Mohamedi.

In the final decade, Glenbarra Art Museum has loaned works of Nasreen Mohamedi to 4 worldwide exhibitions which have travelled to over 10 cities together with New York, and London. For the primary time since getting into the museum’s assortment, these works might be exhibited in India, in 2021-2022. The exhibition will open in Baroda, the place Mohamedi studied art and later taught at Maharaja Sayajirao University, and will journey to Goa, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Do you comply with right this moment’s up to date Indian artists?

My past love and lasting engagement has been with modern Indian artists. In the 1990s, gallerists, sellers and collectors have been fairly highly effective compared to artists. Now the steadiness of energy is extra evenly distributed. This has given artists extra management over their destinies.

Looking West: Works from the Collection of the Glenbarra Art Museum is being held on September 3-4 on

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