After Covid hiatus, India Art Fair opens in Delhi tomorrow

Written by Vandana Kalra
| New Delhi |

Updated: April 28, 2022 7:32:11 am

The India Art Fair 2019 facade, designed by Sameer Kulavoor. (Photo: PR handout)

On April 28, when the India Art Fair (IAF) opens its doors to viewers, on display will be thousands of artworks, put together by over 60 galleries and 14 institutional participants. “We are definitely excited about coming back to the physical format, under one umbrella. It is that hallmark event of the year that sees participation from everyone, from galleries to museums, auction houses to artists,” says Jaya Asokan, director of IAF. This is her first fair as its director after taking over the reins from Jagdip Jagpal in March 2021.

When the Covid-induced lockdown was first announced in India in March 2020, it had just been over a month that the fair had wrapped up. As a result, the 2021 edition was not held. Though the interim period saw an active fair website, the new event is aimed at bringing together the modern and contemporary with the up-and-coming artists. The India Art Fair will take place from April 28 to May 2 at NSIC Exhibition Ground, Okhla.

On display will be artwork by MF Husain, SH Raza, Gulammohammed Sheikh, A Ramachandran, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher and Jitish Kallat, and several others. There are no international biggies, which have been fair highlights in the past (among others, 2020 had works by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and 2018 had Japanese polka dot queen Yayoi Kusama’s works), but there will be participation from a few international galleries.

Apart from the regular names, seven galleries are making their debut. One of the first-timers, Anubhav Nath, director of Ojas Art, says, “I have been wanting to present something substantial in indigenous art…” He will be showing more than 30 works by Mithila artist Santosh Kumar Das. The showcase will be part of the Platform Section, curated by Amit Kumar Jain, which focuses on indigenous art. “We wanted them to be on the same level-playing field as the artwork in the rest of the fair,” says Asokan.

Efforts have also been made to promote younger artists. While several of their works will be in gallery booths, the fair facade has been designed by 24-year-old Anshuka Mahapatra, a multidisciplinary art practitioner. She has used phrases from seven Indian languages that speak of the beauty of the everyday. A BMW iX will be wrapped in a Faiza Hasan design and also on view will be NFT works by artists Amrit Pal Singh, Laya Mathikshara and Khyati Trehan.

Apart from workshops and panel discussions, the fair will see numerous new books, including a braille book The Art of Benode Behari Mukherjee by Kolkata Centre for Creativity, a book on ceramicist PR Daroz titled Fire In the Soul, published by Gallerie Nvya, and a book documenting Indian sculpture, Moulded Magic: Sculpture on a Bench, presented by Chawla Art Gallery. For those who prefer a guided tour, thematic curated walks will be held throughout the day. Spotting volunteers will be rather easy, as all of them will be wearing Shilpa Gupta designed T-shirts, with the words ‘I See the World With Eyes Different From Yours’ — reinstating that perspectives could differ, in art and all else.

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