Before the pandemic, summers generally meant a dull season for the arts in India, as the heat drove artists and gallery owners to cooler climes in the Western Hemisphere. But this summer, the traffic has reversed as the India Art Fair returns to its physical format from April 28 to May 1.
Traditionally, the fair is held in February, but it did not take place last year due to the pandemic and had to be postponed for this edition.
“There is so much pent-up energy in people to go out and interact that the timing of the fair is unlikely to have any negative impact,” said Jaya Asokan, director of the fair. “At openings and other events, people come out in large numbers, it’s a positive sign.”
This is Asokan’s first edition as fair director – she was appointed to the position in April 2021. Asokan hopes to grow the fair’s footprint throughout the year beyond the intense activity of the event itself.
“The pandemic has been a great learning experience for everyone around the world. We want to pivot the fair not just to four days, but expand it beyond that to engage with stakeholders even outside of the hubs. traditional art from New Delhi and Mumbai, to include cities like Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.
“Even in the run up to the fair, we have organized guided tours, pop-ups, collectors weekends, workshops and other similar events to make a greater foray into the local art scene, and even in the world,” Asokan said.
Seventy-nine exhibitors will attend the fair from different segments, including 14 non-profit foundations and institutions like Kochi Biennale Foundation, Chennai Photo Biennale, Serendipity Arts Foundation, etc.
Almost all the best Indian galleries will be there. Seven will make their debut: APRE Art House (Mumbai), Art Incept (Gurugram/ New Delhi), Gallery Art Exposure (Kolkata), Modern Art Gallery. Ojas Art and Terrain.art (all in New Delhi) and Vida Heydari Contemporary (Pune).
Besides the main segment of the fair, other distinct sections include Focus, Platform, Institutions, The Studio and In Memoriam (in memory of Satish Gujral, who passed away in 2020). Additionally, there will be outdoor projects, lectures and even a performance art program.
The partnership between BMW and the India Art Fair presents a new commission entitled The Future is Born of Art. This commission was awarded in March 2022 to Indian artist Faiza Hasan to design a wrap for BMW’s first all-electric car in India, IX, which will be displayed in the BMW Lounge at the show.
Outside of the fairgrounds, the city’s top galleries promise nearly equal excitement by staging their biggest shows of the year to coincide with the fair. The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art has already launched its two founding solos: K. Ramanujam: Into The Moonlight Parade… and Atul Dodiya: Walking With The Waves.
Vadehra Art Gallery presents a solo exhibition by award-winning artist NS Harsha, titled Stomach Studio, while Gallery Espace presents a solo exhibition of recent works by Manisha Gera Baswani, titled …and the dots connect now. Other must-see exhibitions from the period will be Flotsam (1926-2018), a solo by Al-An deSouza at the Talwar Gallery; Shruti Mahajan’s solo, entitled Between Brackets | In Touch Edition 07, at the Shrine Empire; and Pandit Khairnar’s recent works in an exhibition entitled Between Light and Shadow: Travels Through an Indian Landscape, at Gallery Threshold.
The 13th edition of the fair will be held at its usual venue, the NSIC Grounds, Okhla, New Delhi. Entry details available at www.indiaartfair.in
The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist, editor and arts consultant.