Ex-Sotheby’s MD Gaurav Bhatia; Every Indian craft is luxury & every local artisan a virtuoso

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gaurav bhatia sotheby's supports vocal for local

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for being ‘vocal for local’ to boost local production

A self-reliant India has been a dream that almost every founding father of modern India has envisioned. However, it is the today when India is racing towards making herself self-reliant to unburden from cheap Chinese goods floating across the nation. In this direction, PM Modi has asked every individual to aggressively go ‘vocal for local’, to support the local producers of India.

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex-MD now heading Maison India, a luxury start-up, has said that patronizing local artisanal handicrafts and handloom textiles from the local artisans and Master Craftsmen can make the whole local market take a quantum leap in terms of production, sales and sustainability. 

“Every local Indian craft is luxurious” 

While praising the unique and rich talent of our artisans, Bhatia says, “Every local craft is luxurious and every street artisan is virtuoso.”

Even at the time, he was heading the Indian operations of one of the oldest auction houses of the world Sotheby’s India, Gaurav Bhatia advocated for a need to recognize local artistic talents in India, going further, he heavily endorsed buying Indian contemporary art from local artists.

An inveterate traveller, he has explored almost every part of India, witnessing the colorful and unparalleled hidden talent and indigenous treasures that reside in the peripheries of India.  

While sharing his empirical experience of an encounter with Indian folk art —Mithila paintings, he says, “I was amazed to see Mithila art which is basically a tribal art form being so sophisticated. He has collected works by the husband wife duo Satya Narayan Lal Karn and Moti Karn.

Their expression depicting nature and local culture is nothing but sublime; and it fits effortlessly into our contemporary homes today.” Gaurav Bhatia also shared his rich encounters while traveling to different parts of India especially Kashmir. He said that it is the local textiles of Sozni, Jamavar and Kani and crafts such as papier-mâché, that make his home with a rich vocabulary of contemporary and classic, proudly Indian yet International.  

Digitalization and creation of supply chain is the solution 

“One of the biggest problems is that these local artisans are unaware of the disruptions brought by the digital technology and the internet. This is the time when the world is entering the fourth industrial revolution led by automation and everything is going to be automated in the near future.

Hence, we need to bring all this talent on the digital platform and to create a supply chain so that all the luxury that they create can reach every pocket of the world,” says the ex – MD of Sotheby’s India. 

On prodding he suggests a need to bring a ‘revolution’ in the way we perceive local art production from traditional to contemporary levels. “We need to identify stakeholders who can bring this local art and craft alive to our periphery and also take them internationally.

If every art gallery could adopt a few folk artists  the wheels can be set to motion. This way, we can bring a consciousness which will eventually help in enhancing their social and economic status, making our lives riches really,” he adds. 

Since ancient times, the Indian sub-continent has been the center of world-class luxury from art and textiles to jewellery and other indigenous crafts. When the British arrived in the subcontinent, India witnessed a decline in local art production. However, with Gandhiji and his idea of swaraj, and the subsequent policies of the government of independent India, traditional local creativity has gained momentum and today seems set to conquer a new Indian consumer once again. 

Other than leading the India operations of Sotheby’s, Gaurav Bhatia has also worked for some of the leading brands in the world of luxury including LVHM Moet Hennessy among others. He is currently Managing Director Maison India.