Backed by sales of his works at auction in 2019 of Rs 44.39 crores, London-based Anish Kapoor, 66, has topped the Hurun India Art List 2020 for the second year. New Delhi-based painter Rameshwar Broota 79, shot up 9 places to second place with sales of Rs 11.89 crores, followed by modernist painter Krishen Khanna, 95, in third place with Rs 6.87 crores.

The top artists also inlude Raqib Shaw, Arpita Singh, Sakti Burman, Subodh Gupta, Atul Dodiya, Thota Vaikuntam and Jitish Kallat, in that order.

The report launched by Hurun Research Institute and Artprice.com reveals that Mumbai-based artists Atul Dodiya, 61, and Jitish Kallat, 45, broke into the Top 10 for the first time. Twenty-two percent are women artists, led by modernist painter Arpita Singh. 11 women artists make it to the Top 50 List, the List revealed.

The second edition of the ranking of India's most successful artists live today enlists the Top 50 living Indian artists ranked by the sale of their works sold at public auction in the year ending 31 December 2019. Of these, 17 percent live outside India.

"The combined sale value of all the artworks of the top 50 artists recorded at Rs 108.71 crores. The total sale value of artworks declined by 63.4 percent as compared to 2019. Painting is the most sought-after art form, as more than 50 percent of the artists are seen using painting as a mode of expression," it said.

S.H. Raza and Francis Newton Souza, co-founders of the Progressive Artists' Group of Bombay, were the highest-selling deceased Indian artists with sales of 102.8 crores and 90.6 crores last year. Bhupen Khakhar's 'Two Men in Benares' was the highest-selling individual artwork of a deceased Indian artist, selling for 22.39 crores.

Anas Rahman Junaid, Managing Director and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report India said, "Despite India now having more millionaires than ever before, Covid-19, the 2008 financial crisis and demonetization have all slowed down the art market here. I hope the Hurun India Art List, showcasing the most successful artists alive, can encourage India's entrepreneurs to collect Indian art."

"India's art auction market still only represents 0.4 percent of the global art auction market, behind the USA, China and the UK, which enjoy 35 percent, 31 percent and 15 percent respectively of $13.3 billion market," added Junaid.

Notably, only 27 percent of the total artwork (28.89 crores) was sold at public auction in India. The highest value was sold at London-based auction houses, followed by the US and HK.

According to Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Global, Indian art is undervalued, "because the most expensive work of Indian art to be sold at public auction were paintings by Francis Newton Souza and VS Gaitonde for only $4 million each, compared with the $450 million paid for Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi', the $179 million for Pablo Picasso's 'Les Femmes d'Alger' ("Version O") and the $170 million for Amedeo Modigliani's sculpture Nu couche. As India becomes richer, with more families with the ability to collect, the value of India art should increase."

The most popular form of the art in Hurun India Art List 2020 is Painting (with 28 artists), followed by Sculpting (with 6 artists). Contemporary art style is the most favored one amongst other art styles by the artists. Abstract, traditional, surrealism, and modernist art styles also seem to have a growing influence on Indian art.

Speaking regionally, New Delhi continues to remain the art capital of India with 19 of the list, followed by Mumbai with 12. From amongst the artists who have a birthplace in India, Kerala led with 9, followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal, where 8 and 6 artists were born, respectively.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at siddhi.j@ians.in)