It might be some time before there is respite from the scorching heat in the Capital, but in the art circuit, the dormant summer will come to an end sooner. The artists who were travelling to escape the soaring temperatures will be back home in a few weeks and the galleries are already preparing for packed openings. While the city’s newest art fair, United Art Fair, makes its debut in September, a series of grand exhibitions are lined up at galleries for the opening of the new season next month.
“There is an overall slowdown in the economy and it is important for the gallerists to come up with exciting projects,” says Renu Modi, director of Gallery Espace. The gallery collection on her walls will be replaced with the work of J Swaminathan in one of the more looked-forward-to solos of the coming season. This will span over a decade of the modernist’s work, from 1952 onwards. “This is the period when he was staying with his father in Karol Bagh,” says the gallerist, who plans to organise a book reading of Swaminathan’s unpublished autobiography before the exhibition.
Celebrating the work of another modernist will be Delhi Art Gallery (DAG), where a retrospective of Avinash Chandra is being planned. An alumna of Delhi Polytechnic Art School, Chandra moved to the UK in the ’50s. “He is well-recognised in the west, but this would be his first major retrospective in India,” says Kishore Singh, publication and exhibition head at DAG, adding that the show will also travel to London. While Chandra’s exhibition will take place in September, the new art season will open at DAG with a show on landscapes, in August-September. Accompanied by a tome on the subject, this will feature over 250 works by over a hundred artists, from the colonial painters to JP Ganguly, Bireswar Sen and Ram Kumar. “It will trace landscape art in India over a span of 300 years,” notes Singh, adding that in the new season, masters will get recognition. “Akbar Padamsee and Jehangir Sabavala recently created records. We’ll see more artists now joining the ranks of the senior grades,” notes Singh.
Holding the record for the highest price achieved by an Indian woman in an auction, Arpita Singh will present a solo at Vadehra in November. Before that, the gallery will open next season with a curated show on drawings, comprising works of veterans like FN Souza and Ram Kumar, to youngsters like Priyanka Choudhary. After a three-woman art show in September, solos of Pakistani artist Faiza Butt and German artist Wolfgang Laib will follow. “This is in keeping with our aim of showcasing international art alongside Indian,” says Roshini Vadehra, director of Vadehra Art Gallery.
The art street of the Capital, Lado Sarai, will also see ample action. “We have more galleries in the area and that is fun. More the merrier,” says Tunty Chauhan, director of Gallery Threshold. While she is planning her calendar, opening a few galleries away from her, at Latitude 28 in August, will be a show titled “Glitch, Frame, Lollipop”, featuring works of Amitabh Kumar, Siddhartha Kararwal and Prayas Abhinav. In the neighbourhood, at Art Perspective Gallery, Suruchi Saraf will mark the monsoons with a show comprising water colours.
There are more curated shows on the anvil. After being in the news for an exhibition of his work at Marianne Boesky gallery in New York in summer, at Nature Morte, Delhi, Peter Nagy will present a group show featuring Justin Ponmany, Mithu Sen, Santana Gohain, Suhasini Kejriwal, Anita Dube and Sheba Chhachhi, July 7 onwards. Gauri Gill, Bharat Sikka and JJ Vallaya will present their solos later in the year.
Meanwhile, bringing art from across India under one umbrella will be the United Art Fair, conceived by Annurag Sharma, director of United Art Logistics Private Limited, that packages and ships artwork. To take place in September in Pragati Maidan, it will comprise works of over 350 young artists from across India alongside other well-known artists. Like the India Art Fair, this one too has lectures, seminars, video lounge and a sculpture park.