India Art Fair wraps up its post-pandemic edition

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 600 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Founded in 2008, India Art Fair (IAF) is held each year in New Delhi, showcasing the best of galleries and artists, private foundations, museums, artists’ collectives, and cultural events (see our five-part showcase on the 2020 edition here).

Jaya Asokan is the Fair Director for IAF this year, which is being held at NSIC Exhibition Grounds. The fair was not held for the past two years due to the pandemic.

“India Art Fair’s return to its physical format has been a cause of great excitement for the Indian and South Asian art scene. The energy we have seen so far has been incredible, not just from our returning galleries and patrons but also a whole new generation and base of artists, art lovers and young collectors,” Jaya says.

Ankon Mitra – Mastishk Vriksha – The Brain is a Tree

Edition 2022

With BMW as the event partner, IAF 2022 is spread across 15,000 square meters. It showcases 77 exhibitors (including four from abroad), 63 commercial galleries, 14 non-profit organisations, and six outdoor art projects. The galleries represent 13 cities in India, and overseas artists from the US, UK and Brazil.

In addition to exhibitions of outstanding art, there was a range of talks on topics like Why Culture Matters (Kiran Nadar), NFTease ((Aparajita Jain, Om Malviya, Raghava KK, Vasundhara Das), and The Power of Art (Indu Antony, Haroun Hayward). Hetain Patel and Arpita Akhanda showcased performance art.

Access for All conducted workshops on art inclusion, and sensitisation on art and gender. LAND held workshops on storytelling, puppet-making, and art appreciation. There were launches of books as well, titled The Art of Beode and Drawn from Practice.

 Jaya Asokan

Exploration and growth

“India Fair will be having a fabulous series of talks and workshops across four days. There is also an exciting round-up of parallel programming across the city that includes gallery nights, exhibition openings, and many more cultural activities to indulge in,” says Urvi Kothari, Gallery Manager Tao Art Gallery, in a chat with YourStory.

“This annual event is a great time to reconvene with artists, gallerists, collectors and appreciators post the virtual pandemic world,” she adds.

Artist Jaideep Mehrotra, whose artworks were showcased by Tao Art Gallery, says he is looking forward to discovering interesting trends in art and new technologies. “I’m hoping that the lockdown has generated deep personal expressions and these are visible in the shows,” he says.

Bushra Waqas Khan-Medallion

“I look forward to the increasing the visibility of Brazilian art in India and the exchange between Brazil and India in culture, especially visual arts,” says Karla Osorio Netto, Director of Galeria Karla Osorio (GaKO).

She will be showcasing the strength and quality of the original works by some of the gallery’s represented artists, and will approach Indian collectors and institutions more closely.

“Since the art fair is being held after two years, I am honestly excited and thrilled to be watching some of the finest participation from across the globe in the real format and not across screens or virtually,” says Somak Mitra, Director/Owner, Art Exposure Gallery, Kolkata.

“I see IAF as a wonderful platform for me as a gallery owner to witness (almost in a ringside view) the nature and scale of work, new formats, and innovative presentations,” he adds. The parallel or collateral events are also informative and educative, from creative and commercial contexts.

Vida Heydari Contemporary installation

“I am looking forward to meeting collectors, curators, architects, interior designers, and artists coming down from cities across the country,” says Jaee Ajgaonkar, Gallery Assistant at Vida Heydari Contemporary (VHC) in Mumbai.

“I am really looking forward to being back at the India Art Fair after this long pandemic gap,” says Renu Modi, Director, Gallery Espace. She highlights performance art by Hetain Patel, and a panel on Moving Focus, India: New Perspectives on Modern and Contemporary Art.

“We are looking forward to the young collectors who have increasingly shown interest and inclination towards contemporary art in the last few years,” says Mandira Lamba, Co-founder, Gallery Blueprint 12.

She looks forward to conversations at the Speaker Forum. “IAF is happening after two years, we have missed these wonderful dialogues,” she adds. She also cites live performances by Arpita Akhanda and Gurjeet Singh.

“After the pandemic, I am really looking forward to this physical interface with art lovers,” adds Tunty Chauhan, Director, Threshold Art Gallery.

“Art has been confronted with insurmountable odds throughout history. We feel lucky to have created an opportunity for artists despite the very challenging times,” says Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation and Festival.

“We are happy to be back at IAF and we look forward to hosting people at our booths and having a conversation about the arts,” she adds.

Isha Pimpalkhare – Wave 2021

Trends in Indian art

As trends in Indian art, Jaee Ajgaonkar sees Indian artists embracing more innovative mediums, and artists are using both physical and virtual platforms to showcase their work.

“A lot of younger collectors are entering the art world, with more interest in contemporary art and diverse tastes. Indian collectors are also showing interest in international art, especially in countries like Iran with similar cultural influences,” she adds.

“Indian art has been gaining ground with many collectors showing renewed interest in India and across the globe. Indian art has held a special interest for overseas Indian buyers who like to keep such art in their residences and workplaces,” Somak Mitra observes.

“Art spaces are trying to make art more accessible. With this contemporary age, I think art institutions must strive to connect not only with audiences virtually through social media platforms but also initiate an effort to try and reach out to the visually impaired,” Urvi Kothari suggests.

Mandira Lamba

She points to the Kolkata Centre of Creativity as an example. “Its initiative for decoding braille introduces a new dimension that fine arts always missed – touch and feel,” she says.

“One important recent trend is the number of young professionals who are looking to acquire contemporary art. It’s a very heartening development and bodes well for the future of Indian art,” Renu Modi enthuses.

“We have actually seen a refreshing trend in the post-pandemic era. Buyers are responding to the work rather than the name of the artist, this is a huge shift,” Tunty Chauhan observes.

“Indian art is escalating at a very sustainable and good pace. Young collectors have especially emerged over the last two years especially, along with more international collectors. We see a great prospect for Indian art in the coming years,” Mandira Lamba predicts.

Threshold Art Gallery installation

Pandemic impact

“Art in different forms helped make the pandemic and social isolation a lot more bearable. Online platforms especially contributed in a major way to bringing art to everyone,” Jaee Ajgaonkar recalls.

“The pandemic times have reinforced the importance of art in society. It has saved many people from boredom. It opens our eyes and sensitiveness to get a deeper comprehension of our own existence,” Karla Osorio Netto emphasises.

“The pandemic caused a lot of resets, particularly with job losses and loss of lives. Yet creativity was alive like never before through various forms and expressions,” Somak Mitra observes.

“It gave rise to many forms and formats that involved global participation and collaboration that was swifter and more encouraging,” he adds.

Renu Modi

“Now that the pandemic has receded, physical shows are once again in vogue but art has become even more relevant than before with many choosing art as passion and profession, moving away from conventional streams. The pandemic has taught the importance of the need for self-expression that has a universal connection,” Somak affirms.

“Art has renewed relevance in the post pandemic era. It is a chronicle of our collective experience, and a source of succour,” says Renu Modi.

“The pandemic has shown how important it is to view art in person, we have missed the physical tangibility of art for two years,” Mandira Lamba laments.

Threshold Art Gallery installation

Digital platforms

Jaideep Mehrotra sees a greater emphasis on digital and performance arts. “The conventional standards are being bent to adapt to the future. We are spending an inordinate amount of time on our devices, and this is now being reflected in our art,” he observes.

The interest in art has awakened more with virtual exhibitions. “First-time visitors and viewers to gallery and museum sites found the virtual art tour engrossing and easy to attend. Art galleries have also been swift in uploading images and information online,” Somak Mitra adds.

Buyers find it easy to learn more about each artist’s style, influences and techniques while getting a sense of particular aesthetic taste. “The internet has demystified art and has made the world of Indian art accessible at one’s fingertips,” he says.

“The digital market is here to stay and has been a game changer,” Somak signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?

GALLERYSKE installation

Baaraan Ijlal Mourners and Witnesses

Jaideep Mehrotra

Maya Jay Varadraj – Twins with Curly Hair and Promises

Sakshi Gallery installation

Santosh Kumar Das – Untitled 1 from the Tantra series

Tunty Chauhan

Collapse Analysis – GaKO

Vida Heydari Contemporary installation

Wonderwall installation

(All images courtesy of India Art Fair and respective curators/owners.)

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Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta


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