A Fair Deal: The Pleasures of Art

What happens when Jack Shainman Gallery, a prominent art gallery in New York, comes to town? What will the 28-year-old gallery, famous for its exhibition of rare works by artists from Africa, East Asia, and North America, bring for its audience in India? It’s a guessing game art lovers will surely enjoy.

Another gallery that has a date with India is Kalfayan Gallery from Greece. The gallery is famed for showcasing big Greek names like Stephen Antonakos, Stratos Kalafatis and Constantin Xenakis. Pi Artworks, one of Istanbul’s contemporary art galleries that has been around since 1998, promises to woo audience with a collection of original Turkish art.

The list could go on and on. Welcome to the 5th edition of the India Art Fair that opens Feb 1 at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds in Okhla in the Indian capital.

The India Art Fair has evolved and blossomed since it debuted in 2008. Over the years, the fair has attracted around 260,000 visitors from India and across the globe. It is arguably the biggest premier international art fair that has successfully carved a niche for itself both in the domestic and international market. And in this journey, the fair has also become a magnet for advertisers and sponsors. Take, for instance, this year’s presenting partner, a private bank, which has no known past association with art whatsoever.

The fair is destined for greater glory in days to come. Facts speak for themselves. The art fair will bring together 106 exhibiting galleries form 24 countries, and showcase more than 1,000 of the most exciting artists from across India and the world. Although like earlier editions, Indian exhibits will dominate, the 2013 edition is expected to feature 42 international galleries from countries such as Argentina, Bangladesh, Greece, Israel, Greece Korea, Latvia, Turkey, Pakistan and Russia.

Bruno Art Group from Israel, that has carved a reputation for itself through its original collection of paintings and sculptures as well as limited edition serigraphs, promises to be a treat for the senses. All the way from Shanghai, there’s Shanghai Shun Art Gallery, with loads of original Chinese art works. And yes, there will be home-grown art galleries which are expected to outdo one another with their unique collections of works that are redefining modern contemporary Indian art in myriad ways.

Along with the exhibition, there will be the pleasures of discourse to satiate the hungry mind. Creative sparks are set to fly when eminent speakers, including artists, curators, and collectors from across the world, sit down for some serious talk on the arcane of art. “The Postcolonial and the Curatorial,” will be dissected by Chaitanya Sambrani, Senior Lecturer, The Australian National University, Canberra; Gayatri Sinha, independent critic and curator; and Grant Watson, Senior Curator and Research Associate, Institute of International, Visual Arts, London. Parul Dave Mukherji, professor & Dean, School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU, will moderate the talk.

The focus will be on the business of art in a session on “Corporate Involvement in Art and Culture.” The session will feature some of top art collectors like Rakhi Sarkar, Director, CIMA Art Gallery Pvt Ltd, Shivinder M Singh, Managing Director, Fortis Healthcare (India) Limited, Priti Paul, director, Apeejay Surrendra Group, and ace art collector Stephan Frucht, CEO, Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI T.C.A. Ranganathan, CMD, Export-Import Bank of India,; Anthony Korner, publisher, Artforum International Magazine, Alka Pande, consultant arts advisor and curator.

Another engaging session would be what the organisers are calling the “Backroom Conversations,” wherein topics like “Support Systems: Art Patronage in India and China” will be discussed in a wide-ranging manner. Budi Tek, an Indonesian entrepreneur, art philanthropist, and collector will be in conversation with Claire Hsu, co-founder and Executive Director of Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong.

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Hoihnu Hauzel
Hoihnu Hauzel is a Delhi-based freelance writer. She writes on travel, food and lifestyle.