India Art Fair 2017: a gathering place for South Asian art – round-up

The ninth edition of the India Art Fair focused on strong sales and on showcasing contemporary artists.

Art Radar takes a look at some of the highlights of this year’s Fair.

India Art Fair 2017, photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

India Art Fair 2017, photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

The 2017 India Art Fair, held in New Delhi from 2 to 5 February, attracted over 90,000 visitors. This year’s edition brought together a total of 72 exhibitors from 19 cities across India and 23 countries around the globe.

Founding Director of India Art Fair Neha Kirpal declared the event a success, commenting:

The strong international institutional turnout and number of established, new and young collectors is reflective of the high level of interest in this region. As we approach our ten year anniversary we look forward to an exciting year ahead, nurturing new relationships and developing our global expertise as a part of MCH Group’s new Regional Art Fair initiative.

Visitors inside India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Visitors inside India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

A key feature of the Fair was Platform programme, an opportunity for established and emerging South Asian galleries, artists and artist collectives to exhibit on an international platform. Dina Bangdel, Curator of Nepal Art Council commented:

Having India Art Fair’s Platform series has been absolutely critical for exposure. For the South Asian artists themselves it is an amazing opportunity. Last year’s artists have now gone on to exhibit at numerous biennales and triennials and I think that is really due to India Art Fair and our collaboration with them.

A full house at Speakers' Forum, The Future of Museums panel. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

A full house at Speakers’ Forum, The Future of Museums panel. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Focus on sales

The India Art Fair reported strong sales to new and international collectors, almost 60 percent, while 30 percent of sales were made to collectors under 40. The 2017 edition also saw the largest number of collectors from Mumbai since the Fair’s inception.

The growing strength of the fair was demonstrated by over 90 percent of galleries reporting strong sales results. The prices ranged between USD1,000 and upwards of USD8 million for major works by artists such as S.H. Raza, F.N. Souzaand M.F. Husain. This is a welcome boost to the industry after the impact of the late 2016 demonetisation drive.

Founding Director, India Art Fair, Neha Kirpal with young children at India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Founding Director, India Art Fair, Neha Kirpal with young children at India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Director of the auction house SaffronArt Dinesh Vazirani believes the Indian art market will develop throughout 2017:

I think this is definitely going to be the year for growth. Moderns are going to continue to be strong, mostly the works that are well documented and already in demand. By the middle of the year we should also see a growth in demand for the Contemporaries.

Growing importance in the region

In addition directors, curators, patrons and delegations from several key international institutions attended, including from The Met, MOMA and the Guggenheim in New York, TATE, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, The Singapore Art Museum and M+ in Hong Kong to name a few.

Artist Reena Kallat in front of her installation at India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Artist Reena Kallat in front of her installation at India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Rajeeb Samdani, Founder of the Samdani Art Foundation and Dhaka Art Summit supported the Fair as a vital component to support the art market in the region. Samdani highlighted that

There are a lot of non-commercial events in the region, including the Dhaka Art Summit, the Kochi Biennale and Colombo Biennale, but what is vital for the growth and survival of the art scene in the region is a fair, a market place and a collector base. Since it began, India Art Fair became a meeting point for everyone, which is of huge importance. For the next generation of collectors, India Art Fair is the best place to come.

Absolut After Hours event at India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Absolut After Hours event at India Art Fair 2017. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Director of the Asia Society Museum Tan Boon Hui also highlighted the growth of the Fair stating:

I think the fair has really grown from its first iteration many years ago. I came when it was the Indian Art Summit. What is most interesting is the scene that has grown around it, how alongside the fair, there are all these other gallery and museum exhibitions. I think this makes it the prime convening platform. This is where the entire art world in South Asia gathers.

Amin Jaffer, International Director, Asian Art, Christie's with Priyanka Gill, fashion jounalist and entrepreneur. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

Amin Jaffer, International Director, Asian Art, Christie’s with Priyanka Gill, fashion jounalist and entrepreneur. Photo by Manoj Kesharwani, image courtesy India Art Fair.

A range of styles

The Fair not only brought together modern and contemporary artists, but it also featured what could be called tribal, folk, naive or native art. The Fair extended the definition of contemporary Indian art through its Vernacular in Flux section curated by art historian Annapurna Garimella. In the Times of India Garimella commented that she feels “the term vernacular is more apt as it signifies a traditional art language without the limitations that terms like folk, tribal or native have,” adding that galleries are taking seriously the need to become more diverse.

Other highlights included Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha‘s shadow sculpture, Mithu Sen’s dental prosthesis embedded in melting flesh and Sumakshi Singh’s ethereal pressed flowers, leaves and seeds.

Claire Wilson

1542

Related topics: events in New Delhi, News, South Asian, Indian artists, art fairs, collectors, curatorial practice, market watch, business of art, events in India

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