In 2008,India hosted its first art fair,the India Art Summit,in Delhi. Three years later,the Summit is going strong. And there are more than five other art fairs on the calendar. The first India Art Festival took place in Mumbai and,in Delhi,art from across Asia came together at the new India International Art Fair. Another fair to be born was Art Chennai. 2012 will see the debut of Affordable Art Fair,and Kochi-Muziris Biennale,a venture by artists,Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari.
Until now,even reading about art was an expensive idea. All that changed in 2011. The bid to reach a larger audience had publishers and gallerists on a printing spree. Popular Prakashans The Dialogue series has 14 paperbacks,priced at Rs 175 each. These chronicle the works of painters such as Anju Dodiya,Manu Parekh and Veer Munshi. Delhi Art Gallery designed monographs on artists of the Progressive Group like MF Husain and SH Raza (Rs 200 each). Even imported books were easy on the purse-strings the Phaidon series (Rs 526),for instance,has anecdotes about artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
As installation art and sculpture becomes bigger than life-sized,India-born sculptor Anish Kapoor strides like the Leviathan he created for the Monumenta exhibition in Paris. The London-based artist came to show his mammoth works to India for his first solo in late 2010 (the exhibition spilled over to 2011). His work dominated dinner conversations and time-tables of art lovers in Mumbai and Delhi. Mehboob Film Studios in Mumbai,and NGMA in Delhi displayed his fascinating pigment pieces,polished steel works,red wax creations and famous outdoor sky mirror. Till March,vintage Kapoor outshone most other exhibitions in the two metros.
From fine art to performing arts,creative forms paid tribute to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore during his 150th birth anniversary celebrations. Even as galleries in India featured the poet-playwright-writer-painters art in their shows,the Ministry of Culture organised a world tour of his paintings,showcasing these little-seen works in Berlin,the Netherlands,France,Rome,New York,Chicago,Seoul and London. It was also the year when artists,from the Delhi-based Samit Basu to up-and-coming names from Kolkata interpreted Tagore in their own canvases.
Affordable art was the sales pitch in 2011. With prices to match,artwork were displayed in malls,five-star hotels and other unusual venues,vying with branded goods to grab the attention of shoppers. A group exhibition at Gallery Joie in MGF Metropolitan Mall in Delhi had works priced onward Rs 5,000,while Siddhartha Tagore,director of Art Konsult,launched auction house Art Bull to bring works of up-and-coming artists under the hammer along with those of big names. Aman Hotels in Delhi associated with Apparao Galleries to open an art gallery in the hotels lounges and corridors.
Art merged borders to involve the causerati this year. Germany and India came together to showcase art near the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi and urged viewers to save the river from environmental degradation. Sikkim organised its first art festival in Gangtok to create awareness among the locals about art and environment safety. The Mumbai international airport,meanwhile,will soon get a makeover,with artwork by Riyas Komu and Nalini Malani reportedly on the display list.