A truly international India Art Fair was the aim of organisers in 2013, but was this achieved?
In a 2012 interview with Art Radar, India Art Fair founder Neha Kirpal revealed her conviction that international participation was key to the event’s success. In 2013, with a Christie’s partnership bringing in top international collectors and sales-happy galleries from around the world, it looks as though Kirpal’s ambition might have been realised.
The fifth India Art Fair, which closed its doors on 3 February 2013, brought together 95 exhibitors and 1,000 artists from 23 countries worldwide and saw crowds of over 80,000 converge on New Delhi. Has the event succeeded in transforming itself from an Indian event to an international affair? In this coverage round up, Art Radar brings you the opinions of art professionals and journalists.
Mood, sales bouyant
Over its previous four editions, the art fair has attracted more than 260,000 visitors from India and around the world, placing it among the world’s most attended art fairs. The mood among buyers was said to be buoyant this year.
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.
Jaipur’s Gallery Artchill sold over ten works by Akash Choyal, with prices ranging from USD827 (INR45,000) to USD33,078 (INR1,8 million). Shrine Empire Gallery, based in New Delhi, sold Sri Lankan artist Anoli Perera’s work for USD6,891 (INR375,000), and London based Scream Gallery confirmed they had sold “enough to make the gallery and artists happy”, with works priced between USD3,675 (INR200,000) and USD36,753 (INR2 million) being particularly well received.
As well as strong sales, international galleries reported success in networking opportunities at the fair: Daniel Besseiche, talking to ARTINFO, spoke positively of the exhibition opportunities he secured for his artists through the 2013 edition of the fair.
Increased professionalism, internationalism
Exhibitors this year showed works from both homegrown and international artists, with galleries such as The Vadehra Gallery of New Delhi, Delhi Art Gallery and the aforementioned Daniel Besseiche all showcasing influential Indian artists from the twentieth century.
Exhibitors from new regions such Argentina, Israel, Korea, Turkey and Pakistan were present this year, amongst others. Collectors came from emerging regions such as the Gulf, Turkey, China and India itself, as well as more established locations including New York and London.
“High value works were bought and sold,” said the fair’s founding director Neha Kirpal, as reported on the Indo Asian News Service. “This is the great renewal that people were hoping for after the last three years, a great boost to the Indian contemporary art market.”
Speaking to the Financial Times, Tate’s international art curator Jessica Morgan confirmed the general good mood, “I have been a few times and I was pleasantly surprised…. The whole fair felt really professional.”
Art blogger Girish Shahane was similarly complimentary, “Win for viewers: check; win for buyers: check; win for exhibitors: check; win for organisers: check. Win for art lovers: check, if one includes satellite events. All in all, the most successful art fair so far.”
Christie’s 2013 partnership proves fruitful
Such resounding reviews are good news for the India Art Fair, which struggled in previous years to make its mark on the global stage. The New York Times hoped that 2012 would be the year that “the fair transforms from an Indian event to an international one“, but slow sales and disproportionate numbers of non-buying fair-goers made some galleries wary of returning in 2013. Administrative hiccups and sluggish purchasing led to charges of regionalism, despite acknowledgement of India’s key role as an emerging art market.
These issues seem to have been largely resolved in 2013. This year, the art fair partnered with international auction house Christie’s, an alliance that, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s India blog, organisers hoped would bring in fresh collectors and boost sales. As the Financial Times points out, Christie’s did fly in thirty of its most influential collectors from “Abu Dhabi…, Istanbul, plus others from Mexico, Geneva, Switzerland, the US and the UK” for the event.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Christie’s Asian art director Amin Jaffer asserted the importance of international participation,
By … visiting the fair and collateral events … you come away with a good understanding of the range and quality. That’s our objective because for the Indian market to grow, you cannot rely on Indian collectors.
Thanks to such collaborative efforts, Kirpal’s conviction that “international participation” is key to the fair’s success seems to be on the road to realisation.
Greater regional diversity in art on show
Some commentators on the 2013 fair also noted that there was greater variety in the artworks brought to the event by galleries, with a swing away from the “notorious acres of gaudy, platitudinous painting” of previous years, according to the Financial Times.
In its place was a greater regional diversity:
The latest edition of the India Art Fair involved a rise in South Asian participation with Dhaka-based Samdani Art Foundation presenting compelling works by Bangladeshi artists Tayeba Begum Lipi, Ayesha Sultana, and Mohammad Wahiduzzaman, in addition to one of the commissioned art projects at the fair by Mahbubur Rahman, located along the entrance façade.
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.
Although the headliners of India Art Fair 2012, such as Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn and Tracey Emin were absent, there was no shortage of international big-names, with works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, Joan Miro and Marc Chagall hanging in gallery booths. According to some commentators, less well-known international artists garnered more attention than in past years, including Yaacov Agam of Israel, Young British Artist Isabel Rock and Thailand’s Pakpoom Silaphan.
Indian artists made up around half of those exhibited, these included the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, which formed in 1947 and included some of India’s most celebrated Modernist painters.
Global galleries confirm good mood
As demonstrated in a recently published Art Radar article on the India Art Fair, the 2013 edition won praise from the majority of international gallerists that took part. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Jagroop Mehta, director of sales and marketing at London’s Scream Gallery affirmed, “We’re coming very much with our eyes open. We sell mainly to international collectors and the market is no longer dominated by [art collectors from] the West.”
- Art Stage Singapore 2013 a success? What galleries, collectors told Art Radar – January 2013 – find out if this fair has a future
- Abu Dhabi Art 2012 a royal affair – media round up – November 2012 – royal family participation and strong organisation made this fair stand out
- India Art Fair 2012: For international galleries, India focus among emerging economies – February 2012 – despite slow sales, 2012 was a “passionate” event
- India Art Fair’s Collectors’ Circle educates new buyers – December 2011 – part of the strategy to cultivate first-time buyers
- Can you sell big to first-time collectors? India Art Summit 2011 round-up – February 2011 – galleries keep best work to show at the event
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