The core committee of the India Art Fair moved around the NSIC grounds in Delhi dressed in saris in shades of black and white. Top names of the art world, from Anjolie Ela Menon, Atul Dodiya and Bose Krishnamachari to GR Iranna, Sudharshan Shetty and Jitish Kallat turned up at the opening on Day One. The four-day art extravaganza began with a busy promise. Director Jagdip Jagpal, who has brought 75 galleries from India and abroad under one roof, says, “We want people to come and enjoy the difference in works. Why would you go to a shop that has the same stock? People should see a diversity in works, quality and influences.”
The country’s most versatile Modernists make a mark at the fair. Grosvenor Gallery has brought MF Husain’s 1968 painting Musician that outlines a sitar player at work and one of Krishen Khanna’s paintings from his series on musicians titled Bandwalas from 1971. Chawla Art Gallery features FN Souza’s painting of apples, bottles and glasses placed on a table, while DAG is offering SH Raza’s untitled work on the bindu and Khanna’s The Humiliation of Draupadi (1986).
Art for A Cause
Vivan Sundaram’s pigment print Prospect, at Photoink’s booth, depicts a city he built in his 20×60 ft studio space using garbage, such as discarded bottles and bricks. It is an effort to draw attention to the wastepickers in the cities. Baroda-based artist Sudipta Das marks her return to the fair with an installation of sculptures titled Refugee, showcasing migrants crossing the border with backpacks and other belongings, made from paper. Das, 33, who hails from Assam, says, “Most migrants stay in impermanent spaces, and don’t know where they will be going for their next shelter. My grandfather’s father had migrated from Bangladesh to Assam. When the National Register of Citizens’ list came out, my parents went looking for government documents that could prove where they came from.” The work is a part of Latitude 28’s collection. Chinese activist-artist Ai Weiwei’s Porcelain Vase (Journey) (2017) shows a white vase decorated with designs in blue of a group of nationless individuals migrating across a landscape. It is a part of Berlin-based gallery neugerriemschneider’s display. Renowned Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson’s Glacial Currents depicts earth on paper, its circular shape made using a fragment of glacier and pigments, to refer to global warming and climate change.
Kolkata’s Experimenter gallery has brought Ayesha Sultana’s minimal drawings Untitled, that have a blur of colour on canvas showing landscapes. Using yarn to create the corner of a room against a white wall in Untitled (Fourth of Ten Corner Constructions, Sculptural Study,Yellow Version), David Zwirner gallery is showcasing American minimalist Fred Sandback. Nasreen Mohamedi’s untitled ink on paper from the 1980s at Chatterjee & Lal’s booth feature her iconic patterns of curves that look as if they have been made with a compass. Zarina Hashmi’s works, at Chawla Art Gallery, include an etching of simple lines in white that take breaks after small intervals, to create the outline of a triangle.
Women to the Fore
Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi’s My Wedding Suitcase is a suitcase made from razors blades resting alongside heels to highlight the violence that women face worldwide. One of Pakistan’s leading artists, Aisha Khalid’s You and I touches upon gender politics using two velvet coats embroidered with bird motifs, with interiors made of steel pins. Baroda-based Rekha Rodwittiya celebrates womanhood through her circular mixed media works at Sakshi Gallery’s booth, that were part of her retrospective “Rekha@60: Transient Worlds of Belonging” last year when she turned 60. Here, a kimono-clad Japanese woman peeps from under an umbrella, while a woman’s voluptuous silhouette rests on the handle of an old landline phone.
One for the Shutters
Exploring the idea of home, Abir Karmakar’s life-sized oil on canvas paintings Displacement Wall I and II have become a favourite among shutterbugs at the fair. He has recreated a replica of the interiors of a traditional south Indian house where he had lived in 2016. Complementing the 3D painting is a book shelf by Benitha Perciyal, who carves books from discarded teak wood. Spanish artist Antonio Santin’s hyper-realistic painting of a carpet drew early visitors armed with cameras. Filmmaker Mira Nair was spotted posing at Aradhana Seth’s Merchant of Images, where she has recreated old photo studios with handpainted backdrops. One can wander among the moon and stars or be a part of a circus.
At Galleryske’s store, Storeske, there are Indian-American artist Tara Kelton’s impressionist paintings from the series Still Life with a Curtain in the form of jigsaw puzzles. Beat the pollution in style by wearing embroidered masks by Rashmi Varma or adorn your tables with covers that have artist Pakhi Sen’s portraits of her grandmothers.
There are also pencil sets by Hyderabad artist Dia Mehhta Bhupal, made of paper rolls that she uses to make her life-size photo-installations. Presented by Gallery Escape, artist-photographer Manisha Gera Baswani brings the stories of 47 artists from both India and Pakistan, who are photographed in their studios while they reminisce about their lost homes. These are presented outside the halls, in sacks that are titled “Postcards from Home” and one can pick up any for free.
One can find a variety of books on art and design at the CMYK bookstore, which partners with German publisher Taschen.