The countdown to the keenly awaited India Art Fair (IAF) in its fifth avatar has begun. The fair is opening in less than a month’s time in the capital with a preview for invited guests on January 31. Thereafter, the fair will be open to the public from February 1 to February 3. After the first somewhat tentative effort, the fair has ensured that ‘it brings together a diverse and dynamic set of galleries and artists’. We can anticipate that the 5th IAF will once again become the platform where new styles in contemporary art practices, can be viewed and appreciated in congenial surroundings.
As in the earlier IAF, renowned Indian space designer Sumant Jayakrishnan will be responsible for designing the custom-built tent in South Delhi, spanning more than 20,000 sq metres. In the previous fair, his choice of works at the entrance, on the outside of the tent as well as indoors, came in for considerable praise. Needless to say, the designer had the advantage of being able to choose from some truly spectacular art works —and hopefully will have even more choice this year.
We can also be sure, as has been the case at earlier fairs, that art lovers from all over India, as well as an increasing number from abroad, will have the opportunity to see the work of established and emerging artists. They will also learn about the use of new styles and mediums in art and ‘enhance the knowledge base with particular emphasis on South Asian art.’
In its four previous editions, 260,000 people have visited the India Art Fair from more than 60 cities and expectations are high about an even better attendance this year. The 106 exhibitors in the general exhibition area and solo projects are from 24 countries. In addition, there will be the video lounge, an art bookstore, art projects and a Speakers’ Forum with over 40 eminent speakers. Leading Indian galleries from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi and Agra are expected to participate, while those from abroad include new regions such as Argentina, Bangladesh, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Turkey, Pakistan and Russia.
To ensure that the days of the fair become a ‘Visit India’ period, IAF has encouraged various cultural and art institutions along with galleries to hold exhibitions in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities as well. The idea being that international delegates and visitors take this opportunity of travelling to other art locations in India. There are also a number of partners including luxury brands and institutions and it appears that all are prepared to put in their best efforts to make a success of the fifth India Art Fair.
I recollect meeting Neha Kripal, the founding director of India Art Fair, before the first India Art Summit and at the time, she had held out the hope that the fair would attract international participation. The IAF has not just achieved this, it has truly been a bridge to Indian art as many Indian artists and their works are now familiar to art lovers across the globe.
Now that the next India Art Fair is all set to open less than a month away, Kripal sums up the focus of the upcoming fair, when she says, “The focus of the art fair, given the present business environment particularly in the art sector, is on developing new audiences and initiating new energy in the Indian art market. Whilst it gives those with limited knowledge about art an opportunity to see a diverse spectrum of art, for existing collectors, it offers a brand new line up of exciting works”.