India Art Fair 2015 - Art of the Mind

It's time to gaze, hopefully buy works by some of India's best masters, and pick up tips on contemporary art. India Art Fair 2015 is here

By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: January 13, 2014

It’s time to gaze, hopefully buy works by some of India’s best masters, and pick up tips on contemporary art. India Art Fair 2015 is here.
Bruno Art GroupIt’s time for India Art Fair once again. The white designer tents at NSIC Complex in Okhla are gearing up once more to welcome art aficionados and, well, a lot of India’s jet set. The swish of Swarovskis, the vehement waving of LVs, the whiff of Chanel in various numbers – all that speaks for a city that is ready to patronize art.
Or does it? The seventh edition of the India Art Fair (IAF) in Delhi is to be held from January 29 to February 1. It should be one of the high points of the Indian art calendar. Well, it undoubtedly is. What is hampering it is the absolute resoluteness of the Indian art market to revive. In a nation where all mainstream media conversation is about the value of art, there is little to suggest that the art market has revived.
The three-day fair – with a VIP by invitation day preceding it - has big names and events lined up. The previous edition saw just under a lakh people, while the growth in footfall has been in excess of 10 per cent year on year. Private collections grew, and even those not bidding renewed their love for art in its myriad shapes. 
Spread over an enlarged 20,000 square metres, it will also be the biggest ever in area, with some reconfiguration of the covered area. “This year viewers will see a more domestic and regional focus with participation from galleries from Tier II cities, including Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, as well as a number of artists of Pakistani origin,” informs Neha Kirpal, Founder Director, India Art Fair.
Checklist for India Art Fair 2015Various changes have been made. Girish Shahane joins as Artistic Director and will reflect the art on show, connecting a series of impressive installation projects with a talks programme, and bringing a more closely curated experience to this new edition.
Big name associations are lined up, headlined by museum associations such as Guggenheim Bilbao and the Gallery of New South Wales. There are 85 exhibiting galleries in 90 booths. Most of the regular features of the IAF are in place too – Speaker’s Forum, collateral events, curated walks, art projects, spotlight series, etc.
“There are certainly challenges for international galleries, particularly in terms of custom duties and processes,” admits Ms Kirpal. “The fact that so many international galleries exhibit at IAF is testament to its appeal. The longer term a gallery is prepared to commit to the Indian market and buyers, the stronger the relationship and returns become. When galleries exhibit year after year, the dealers get a better sense of the market. They build more meaningful relationships with prospective clients, who in turn increasingly identify with the gallery brand and artists, which significantly helps with sales.”
Confidence in the Indian art mart is gradually on the upswing, though it is still not close to the heights of the past decade. “After the low sentiment of the last few seasons, we are seeing not just a one off, but a sustained level of significant sales successes for Indian art at both domestic and international auction houses,” says Ms Kirpal. “All the indications in the recent auctions and the mood for the season ahead are very positive. The successful introduction of live art auctions has brought a new edge to the market and with the second Kochi Biennale bringing an international focus to contemporary Indian art in addition to India Art Fair, the cumulative impact is certainly reaching new levels.” Amen to that.
Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.

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