The Young Curator
He may not be armed with a formal education in art, but this young Amdavadi
curator. The is already making bold strokes on the country’s art circuit, reports Ankur Jain
If you happen to walk into Marvel Art Gallery expecting to be accosted by
a white-haired art expert, then you’ve got another think coming. For chances
are you will run into into a jeans clad, fresh-out-of-college youngster who
will pick up one of the 1,200-odd paintings on display at the gallery and start
rattling the various reasons why that piece of art is a masterpiece.
Be it a Hussain, Raza or Khakkar, he has them all and can spot a fake from
an original in the blink of an eye. Meet 20-year-old Chaitya Shah, who claims
to be the youngest art curator in the country and runs this art gallery with father
After just two years into the business, Shah already manages nearly 120
art investment portfolios of some of the rich and famous from Gujarat. What’s
more, he has paintings of over 40 renowned Indian artists right from Bhupen
Khakkar to K G Subramanyam to M F Hussain to Gulam Mohamed Sheikh and
has already hosted three big art exhibitions, including one in Jehangir Art Gallery,
But don’t make the mistake of calling him an art dealer. For pat comes the
reply: ‘I am a curator, an art collector, someone who admires art and understands it.”
Ask about his biggest catch, “I sold a Hussain’s painting for Rs 16 lakh
last year to an Ahmedabad-based businessman. It’s worth a whopping
Rs 40 lakh today,” says the curator, who has even impressed the stalwart
of Indian contemporary art, S H Raza, with his collection of paintings.
“When I met him after an exhibition in Jehangir, he hasn’t met a guy who his
age till now in the art business and standing there made a portrait of mine
and it’s one thing that I see everyday to keep adrenaline pumping in my blood,”
says Chaitya, eyes all aglitter with his ambitious dreams.
So what’s a bachelor’s degree holder in business administration from
HL College doing manning an art gallery? “I wanted get into business.
But once I started visiting art galleries with father and meeting various
artists,my inclination towards art started growing. And as I could not
dream of being a painter, I decided on the next best thing — to be an
art curator,” explains Chaitya. After having recently grabbed three-day
course in art business at Sotheby’s auction house in Dubai,Chaitya is now
planning to go for a master’s degree in art business from London.
Also on his palette are six more grand art shows over the next six months
including one each in the US and Canada. But is it easy to sell an art work?
“I don’t try selling art. It has now become an investment opportunity,which is
why people come to me and tell me they want to invest a certain amount. I
give them my picks and tell them the returns they will get after 5 years.”
But what has he kept for himself ? “I bought a K G Subramayam’s chef-d’oeuvre
for Rs 5 lakh last year and a few works of Manu Parekh.” But where does he
rank himself as a painter? “Nobody will buy my work,” he says with a smile.