12th India Art Fair opens with aim to promote South Asian art

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) With 81 exhibitors bringing over 500 artists from 20 cities across the globe, the 12th edition of the India Art Fair is all set to open doors to public on Friday at the NSIC grounds in Okhla here.

Continuing the efforts to promote South Asian art, 70 per cent of the fair space this year has been dedicated to Indian art galleries, and the remaining to international galleries representing artists with South Asian heritage.

Reiterating her objective to keep the artists at the core of the event, fair director Jagdip Jagpal said they had added artist workshops to this year's programme to enable visitors to interact with the artists.

'We always say that we put the artist at the centre of the programme, so this year we've extended the number of participating artists in our programme, and we've also introduced workshops for people to sort of learn for themselves about the practice of creating certain type of things,' Jagpal told PTI.

Visitors can enjoy a drawing session with Gagan Jain, learn how to make objects out of waste with Manisha Parekh, and indulge in an afternoon of collage making with Renuka Rajiv.

The fair will feature its customary diverse selection of contemporary art galleries like Chemould Prescott Road, Chatterjee & Lal, Jhaveri Contemporary, Experimenter, GallerySke among others, alongside galleries like DAG, Dhoomimal Gallery, and Crayon Art Gallery that will present exceptional historical pieces from the region's leading modernists.

New gallery entrants from India Art Explore (New Delhi), Arts of the Earth (New Delhi), Gallery White (Vadodara), Pichvai Tradition & Beyond (New Delhi) will be participating in the fair along with International debuts of Saskia Fernando Gallery (Colombo, Sri Lanka), PSM (Berlin, Germany), Marc Straus (New York, USA) and Gallery Tableau (Seoul, South Korea).

'We always try very hard to get as much art as we can from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and this year to have Saskia Fernando from Colombo, which is bringing three key Sri Lankan female artists, is actually great.

'There have been lots of engagements and interests between Indian buyers and South Korean contemporary arts, so we have got Gallery Tableau that's coming this year,' the director said.

This year's 'Focus' section, which showcases pivotal solo presentations curated by participating galleries, includes: Ratheesh T by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke (Mumbai), Girjesh Kumar Singh by Rukshaan Art (Mumbai), Anjan Modak by Emami Art (Kolkata), Avijit Dutta by Kalakriti Art Gallery (Hyderabad), D Dhasan by Apparao Galleries (Chennai), KS Radhakrishnan by Gallerie Nvya (New Delhi), and Subodh Kerkar by Gallery Art Positive (Delhi).

'Platform', a popular section of the fair that acts as a springboard for emerging artists, art practices and collectives from South Asia, will include Britto Arts Trust (Dhaka), Delhi Crafts Council (Delhi) and Metta Contemporary (Navi Mumbai) returning following their 2019 participation.

New participants under this section like Arts of the Earth and Gallery Ragini will highlight vernacular art forms.

'We also try and push the galleries to bring artists that have not received as much recognition to help them get broader audiences,' Jagpal said.

Leading cultural organisations and foundations like Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA), Inlaks India Foundation (New Delhi) and Korean Cultural Centre India will exhibit under the fair's 'Institutions' segment.

Also showcasing in this section will be Noida-based Swaraj Art Archive that will shine a spotlight on early 20th century artworks from India.

In its 'Performance Art' programme, the fair will present a strong line-up of leading artists including Maya Krishna Rao, national-award winning theatre performer and social activist; and Lagos based multimedia artist Jelili Atiku whose works address political concerns for human rights and justice.

Offering a public platform for dialogues and discussions, 'Auditorium Talks' will feature artist presentations, memorial lectures and conversations across the artworld.

Talks to look out for include those by modernist Nilima Sheikh, Turner prize nominated Bangladeshi-British artist Naeem Mohaiemen, Polish-German sculptural installation artist Alicja Kwade and Magnum photographer Martin Parr.

'Parr will also do a live photography project throughout the fair and then he'll be printing the pieces and exhibiting them as well. I think audiences will find that kind of interactive activity very interesting,' Jagpal said.

This year's memorial lectures will be dedicated to the life and works of modernist Ram Kumar and artist Tushar Joag conducted by experts Kishore Singh and Shireen Gandhy respectively.

This year, the fair will also partner with Godrej India Culture Lab to deliver a film programme on the theme Queering Culture.

Beyond the fair venue, 'IAF Parallel' will provide a platform to navigate the thriving cultural scene, with collateral events programmed by galleries, museums and arts spaces around the city.

Some of them are solo exhibitions by Remen Chopra at the Gujral Foundation, Chto Delat at Khoj International Artists Association, Dhruvi Acharya at Nature Morte; Ravinder Reddy and Atul Dodiya at Vadehra Art Gallery among others.

The fair will come to a close on Sunday. PTI TRS MAH MAH