Reviving market, creativity pep up India Art Fair
By Madhusree Chatterjee, New Delhi, Feb 3 : Broad trends of a gradual market revival, fresh interest in emerging contemporary artists, diversity of works, new creative energy and heightened viewers' awareness were discernible at the three-day India Art Fair 2013 that ended late Sunday.
The fair - termed the country's most glamorous art and trade platform since it began 2008 - started with a preview Jan 31 on a sprawling 20,000 square metres venue designed by avant garde space artist Sumant Jayakrishnan.
The mood among artists, gallerists, analysts and scholars was of confidence with endorsement of the response to the fair as a greater signal of turnaround in the market, but cautioning growth would still take time.
Sales registered a healthy growth - up by nearly 25-30 percent - with more collectors, institutional and corporate buyers from around the world looking to invest in art. Footfalls, however, did not increase much from last year's tally of over 130,000 because of the exclusive nature of participation and high entry fee - Rs.300 for adults and Rs.200 for students daily.
"This was a phenomenal year with a wide group of partners and stakeholders like Yes Bank, Essar, Reliance Mutual, DLF brands and Conde Nast (Vogue) and Absolut. High value works were bought and sold. This is the great renewal that people were hoping for after the last three years - a great boost to the Indian contemporary art market," said the fair's founding director Neha Kirpal.
She said the fair was the single largest showcase of contemporary art with over 3,500 art works by 1,100 artists, and 40 international galleries from 23 countries.
The art works on display - in all possible mediums - could be classified into four segments.
The modern masters had tributes to stalwarts like Ganesh Pyne by CIMA gallery, a solo project of sculptor Somnath Hore's etchings, and several group shows of works by leading modernists.
Contemporary art was led by innovative works like "Mirror Stage", a glass installation by Subodh Gupta, "Covering Letter", a transparent light installation of a letter from Mahatma Gandhi to Hitler by Jitish Kallat, leather installation, "Mom" by Krishna Murari, and Paresh Maity's new installation of Delhi's seven-fold history and head sculptures.
The younger lot of emerging contemporary artists featured new sparks like Sachin Sebastian George, Navin Thomas, Farhad Hussain, Mona Rai and at least 150 more. The works showed a tendency to take avant garde away from "repetitive modernism".
The international section was a mix of big 20th century names like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and new artists, making their mark in the west.
Unusual success stories were galore around the maze of stands. One such was that of young British artist Isabel Rock, who was brought to India in 2008 by Britain's Art 18/21 Gallery.
"The people who booked her work then kept in touch with her progress and kept visiting her every year, drawing more buyers in India for the last five years. Now, she is the one of the leading young contemporary artists in Britain, thanks to her Indian buyers and admirers," the gallery's Laura Williams told IANS.
Several galleries exhibited Indian and foreign artists to lend a global colour to their panoramas. One such gallery was the leading French art house, the Paris-based Galerie Lelong, which had six women artists in our booth, including emerging Indian artist Nalini Malani.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org) --IANS