The Palette Count

With the Capital dressed up for India Art Fair,gallerists host grand exhibitions for the art extravaganza.

Written by Vandana Kalra | Published:January 25, 2012 3:23 am

It is one of the biggest carnivals of art in India. Featuring over a thousand works of art from 20 countries,the curtains will go up at the India Art Fair (IAF) tomorrow. Before it opens for the public,a select few will be allowed inside its humungous tent at the NSIC exhibition grounds in Okhla today,but the celebration of art is not restricted to the venue. Its expanse is much more than the 14,000 sqm of the Okhla ground. It covers miles,from Mumbai to Bangalore,where galleries are preparing for a celebration of art with collaterals — exhibitions timed during the fair.

“The space at the art fair is limited. It makes sense to make an impression at the fair and then direct people to the gallery to view a larger body of work. It’s a perfect time for networking,” says gallerist Anu Bajaj,director,Gallery Art Positive,who will make her debut at the IAF this year. She is one of the several gallerists,who have organised a collateral exhibition at their galleries during the fair.

The countdown to the fair began last week and Bajaj,in order to interact with the collectors,recently hosted a brunch along with other gallerists in Lado Sarai. The D-Day saw a slew of art connoisseurs hopping across galleries in the art hub. If at Gallery Art Positive the walls had works of eight artists in the exhibition “Aham”,across the street,at Latitude 28,guests were treated to appam and stew conjured by Prima Kurien. The exhibition curated by Meera Menezes has 11 artists examining the phenomenon of leakage and loss in both the virtual and the real world.

Art enthusiasts from Mumbai might be headed to Delhi for the fair,but back in the maximum city,Sudarshan Shetty kick-started art fair collaterals by showcasing his site-specific installation Flying Bus. A double-decker bus with giant steel wings,it represents how the ubiquitious bus is on its way to extinction. The Mumbai-based artist’s work will also feature in the exhibition “Listen Outside This House”,a collateral event at Galleryske in Bangalore.

Back in Delhi,at Gallery Espace,gallerist Renu Modi wants to give art aficionados an insight into the minds of the artists in “Narratives of the Self”. The commissioned project has the likes of Jitish Kallat,Anju Dodiya,Manjunath Kamath and Nilima Sheikh working on autobiographical artworks. “It extends the celebration during the fair,” says Modi.

In one of the largest collaterals,Ashish Anand,director,Delhi Art Gallery,will celebrate the Bengal school of art. The 401 works from early 19th century to the turn of the 20th-century,are from a time when artists like Nandalal Bose and Asit Haldar looked at ancient Indian art and nationalism for inspiration. “It’s an attempt to get Bengal art its due. Many people hold their purchase of art for the IAF and this is a time when they are in a mood to buy,” says Anand.

Tunty Chauhan,director of Gallery Threshold,agrees,“This is one of the biggest events on the art calender and if one believes in an artist,this is the time to give them exposure.” She has chosen to showcase works of Vishakhapatnam-based V Ramesh at her gallery. In another grand solo,Talwar Gallery will present Alwar Balasubramaniam’s “Nothing from My Hands”. If at the IAF,international galleries like Italy-based Galleria Continua will represent Shilpa Gupta,at her home town,in Mumbai,her work will be on display at Chemould Prescott Road.

Legends like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali and contemporary names such as Marc Quinn and Antony Gormley will be showing at the fair,but outside the gated venue too,works of international biggies will be on display at private galleries. Vadehra Art Gallery is hosting a show of Yoko Ono,whereas at Tasveer Art Gallery,India of the 1950s can be viewed in photographs by legendary fashion photographer Norman Parkinson.

For those who want to understand art and artists better,studio visits are planned with artists like Arpana Caur,Ravi Agarwal and Raqs Media Collective.

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