On Republic Day,the curtain will rise on one of the biggest art shows in India. The India Art Summit,now with a new name,India Art Fair,and a new address,NSIC Exhibition Grounds in Okhla in south Delhi (instead of the more-accessible Pragati Maidan in central Delhi),is set to erupt with more colour than ever before. The noise,of course,started months ago 1,000 artists,45 international galleries,14,000 sqm space for artwork,one lakh visitors,and more artwork than anybody can count. When Neha Kirpal,founding director of India Art Fair,says in breathless anticipation,It will be big. Well have collectors,museum representatives and some big galleries from world over,the blueprint supports her words.
The only grey patch is the question: will the buyers rush in? The art mart has been dismal for the past three years,but there is an untapped market in India. In fact,international galleries are now coming to India due to its potential market. People may not make an immediate purchase but we hope to make an impact, says Bhavna Kakkar,director of Delhi-based Latitude 28 gallery . She hopes that many of the expected one lakh visitors will be looking for that perfect work to add to their collection. For buyers,the spread is lavish works of art are travelling from London to Latvia,Texas to Tehran,Athens to Abu Dhabi and from all over India. Sharing wall space will be legends such as Pablo Picasso,Salvador Dali and Marc Chagall with contemporary names such as British sculptor Antony Gormley and Venice Biennale Silver Lion winner Haroon Mirza,a London-based artist. Expect to sign a cheque for several crore rupees for any of these artists.
The artwork,fittingly,starts at the entrance. Created by veteran set designer Sumant Jayakrishnan,the gate will have Delhi-based artist Zuleikha Chaudharis light sculpture titled A Nest of Frames,where Chaudhari creates a drawing using brightly coloured frames.
Last year,the magnet for the masses was celebrity British installation artist Anish Kapoor. This year,it is another British name,pop artist Damien Hirst. Except that the controversial artist one of his works was a skull made of diamonds will not be here in person. He is busy with his show at Gagosian galleries across three continents, says an official from the London-based gallery,Other Criteria,which will be displaying a few of Hirsts works,along with another UK gallery,White Cube,at the India Art Fair. A less-glamourous but equally well-known English sculptor,Marc Quinn,will visit the fair. Quinn will participate in a discussion with artists SH Raza,Bharti Kher and A Balasubramaniam on January 28.
Indian art occupies most of the floor and wall space. Galleria Continua from Italy will showcase the works of contemporary artist Shilpa Gupta and London-based Hauser & Wirth will bring sculptures by Kher and Subodh Gupta,including the kitchen-kitsch veterans installation Incubator,that comprises stainless steel eggs.
This is also the time to observe large-than-life works take shape on site. Pakistani artist Rashid Ranas presents photo mosaics while Reena Saini Kallats Light Leaks,Winds Meet makes a political statement. The work is modelled on the gate between India and Pakistan at the Wagah Attari border. The Mumbai-based artist will cover the metal rods with red threads,symbolic of the sacred threads used in temples and mosques. The distance between the two countries is not just political but also psychological. The untied ends of the thread appear as roots,signifying how the gate is rooted and also the shared roots, says Kallat.