TWO CONFLICTING NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT THE ART BAZAR OF INDIA APPEARED IN TWO MAJOR PUBLICATIONS ALMOST NEXT TO EACH OTHER ON THE NET NEWS AT THE SAME TIME!
PROBABLY THE INSIDER SOURCES KNOW THE SECRET. NO IMAGES HERE, BECAUSE ACCORDING TO CRITICS, BETTER WORKS WERE ELSEWHERE IN THE CITY.
Moderate sales and lots of people at
India Art Fair Delhi
Indeed, the exhibitions away from the fair grounds that are featuring leading modern and contemporary artists are more exciting than the fair itself, which this year has lacked dramatic new contemporary displays. In a depressed market, galleries have been showing conventional works and there has been some criticism of a lack of consistent quality, especially with Indian galleries – “kitsch” was the unkind word used by one critic to describe some exhibits, responding to me saying it was all very “predictable”.
Maybe there is nothing wrong in that. Arguably, there is no reason why
should not produce its own version of art fairs in the
same way that it challenges other foreign concepts of orderliness, quality and
convention. That said, the fair does confound sceptics with its efficient
organisation and presentation and, as I have written several times in earlier
years, its importance is that it has successfully opened up interest in Indian
modern and contemporary art both in India and abroad. India
Thousands of visitors, including schoolchildren, who would never venture into formal art galleries, have been touring the stands, which provide them with access to culture that they would not otherwise experience. This is similar to the Jaipur Literature festival that I wrote about ten days ago, though there the audiences are building on their existing interest in books whereas the art fair is opening new vistas.
Established Indian collectors have been at the fair to see, and some to buy, instead of relying on internet images which, gallery owners tell me, astonishingly suffices for many buyers.
The fair also brings foreign visitors to
– this year, for the first time, there is a group ofgallery owners and collectors and artists from China, while Christie’s, one of the fair
sponsors, has brought an international group. Neha Kirpal, the founder and
director of he fair, says that last year 40% of the works sold went to first
time buyers, some from what are known as second tier towns that do not have art
events. Several gallery owners however are sceptical about that figure, echoing
doubts about some of the claims of attendances in past years which Neha has
comfortably and rounded off to a cumulative unchallengeable figure of 400,000
over the past five years. Delhi
The array of art on show has ranged from Picasso and Andy Warhol to
’s reliable body of progressives such as M.F. Husain,
F.N.Souza and contemporary artists such as Atul Dodya and a spinning mud
installation and digital prints in plastic boxes. India
There were 91 exhibitors, the biggest of which is the
with 330 works covering 400 sq metres. Nearly a third of
the total exhibitors are from abroad, though some big international names, such
as the Lisson Gallery from London and Hauser & Wirth from Zurich, have not
returned after appearances four or five years ago. Delhi
This indicates some disappointment with a lack of sales to big buyers, and also frustration with shipping and other problems caused by
’s customs controls that make it impractical to bring
many foreign works for sale. “There is a risk of this not going much
further if the organisers don’t develop a co-ordinated programme with
collectors and corporate buyers,” says Carlos Cabral Nunes of Portugal’s Perve
Galeria, reflecting the views of other foreign exhibitors. India
A quick survey of stands this evening produced some unhappiness, like Nunes’ frustration about a lack of big sales. Most galleries that had done well sold works ranging from under Rs100,000 (£1,000, US$1,600) to four or five times that figure, though some went far higher.
’s Grosvenor Gallery did exceedingly well selling works
by Olivia Fraser., a Delhi-based British painter with limited edition prints of
new works that started at Rs50,000. Archer Art Galley of Ahmedabad also did
well with limited edition reproductions of well-known artists starting at
At the other end of the scale, Aicon Gallery of New York and London sold four works by established Indian masters, M.F.Husain and F.N.Souza, and a younger painter G.K.Irani, for between Rs400-500,000 to Rs1.5 crore (Rs15m). Art Alive of Delhi sold a long Thota Vaikuntum that had been priced at Rs40 lakhs (Rs40m). Mark Hachim of
was also happy, selling lively works, all foreign,
and including digital prints of scent bottles in plastic boxes from Euros 5,000
(Rs420,000). Sakshi Gallery of Mumbai’s sales included a tiffin (meal)
container carried by Mumbai’s dabbawwallas who are pictured in the
small buttons. Paris
Collectors will now be watching to see what effect these events have on the market.Christie’s had an amazingly good first auction in Mumbai in December that produced record prices but that has yet to have a visible impact.
On a broader front, experts have been saying that
should look eastwards to the buoyant Chinese and
south-east Asian markets to develop links. That will now begin following the
visit of collectors from India , led by Philip Dodd of Made in China . Among them was Budi Tek, a prominent
Chinese-Indonesian collector who is building a museum in China and is considering buying a contemporary work from Shanghai ’s Espace Gallery. Earlier in the day, he said the Indian
private sector needed to build museums and public awareness. Delhi
India always looks westwards to Europe and the US for foreign accolades and praise so it will, I guess, be some time before it recognises that looking east is where the future probably lies if Indian art is to appeal internationally to a wider audience than its present relatively small group of western collectors.
John Elliott for the Independent
A longer article that includes the other art events in
mentioned above, and more
illustrations including some of the works, is on John Elliott’s blog at: http://wp.me/pieST-21x Delhi
Art Fair Reports Strong Sales India
Spread across three tents and 200,000 square feet, this year’s fair, which ran from Thursday to Sunday, featured 91 booths and modern and contemporary works by over 1,000 artists from India and overseas.
Participants included 12 new galleries from outside
, including those from India , Israel , France , Portugal , Germany , Spain and, notably, from Turkey . The Karachi, Pakistan in Himalayas Art Museum and the Shanghai in Mark Rothko Museum both participated in the fair for the
first time. Latvia
The fair’s organizers said in a statement that a number of exhibitors sold out completely and that 96 percent of exhibitors reported “good” sales, but no figures on sales or attendance were released. Most of the Indian gallery representatives who spoke to India Ink said they were satisfied with their sales.
“We didn’t go in expecting very much, but we exceeded our expectations,” said Priya Jhaveri, the director of Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai, which participated in its very first art fair. “It was a positive experience for us because we were introducing artists who aren’t known.”
Among the works she sold were those by Rana Begum, Hamra Abbas, Alexander Gorlizki, and Yamini Nayar. None of the works, with the exception of the one by Ms. Begum, exceeded $15,000.
Jhaveri Contemporary’s booth was placed near several other notable Indian galleries, and these booths had some of the strongest contemporary works on display.
Yet critics and observers rued the lack of consistency in the quality of some of the art at the fair, saying that although top tier galleries from
and some from overseas had stellar
works, many middle-tier galleries had lackluster offerings. India
“In terms of art works and quality, the most interesting pieces were at some of the contemporary galleries,” said Mallika Advani, a well-known independent art consultant and former
representative at Christie’s.
“Although I normally deal more with the Moderns than with the younger artists,
I can’t say there were too many works by the senior artists that I would
recommend to collectors.” India
She said most of the artwork on display had been featured on other commercial platforms, including auctions and previous gallery shows.
There were gems to be found, however. Ms. Advani singled out the Experimenter Gallery of Kolkata and Gallery SKE, based in
and Bangalore , which displayed the work of the
mixed-media artist Avinash Veeraraghavan, Volte Gallery of Mumbai, which had a
visually appealing bronze sculptural work by the British studio Based Upon, and
Atul Dodiya’s works at Vadehra Art Gallery of New Delhi. New Delhi
Despite criticism about overall quality of the art, there was universal agreement that the fair acts as a creative catalyst and draws a diverse audience that includes a global community of curators, museums and collectors as well as locals who wouldn't normally have access to such a wide range of contemporary art.
"It's an important national convening that didn't exist before," said Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum in New York.
Ms. Jhaveri said although 90 percent of her buyers at the fair were those already known to her, she met many people who hadn’t known that her gallery was in Mumbai.
Tushar Jiwarajka, founder and director of Volte, said he sold a few major works, but beyond that, he saw the fair as a great platform to showcase his gallery. “In the four years I have participated, we have sold to new collectors,” he said.
Mr. Jiwarajika’s booth had works by the South African artist William Kentridge, the British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor, and Indian contemporaries like Sheba Chhachhi, Ranbir Kaleka and Nalini Malani.
Auxiliary events that take place outside the fair, including museum shows of modern and contemporary Indian art, are almost as important as the fair itself. The National Gallery of Modern Art is currently showing two major exhibitions, one by the contemporary artist Subodh Gupta and one on the pre-Independence works by Amrita Sher-Gil.
Other highlights included a solo show of paintings by Zarina Hashmi, “Folding House,” at Gallery Espace, Ms.Malani’s solo show, “Cassandra’s Gift,” at
and Sudarshan Shetty’s show, “Every
Broken Moment, Piece by Piece,” at Gallery SKE. Vadehra Art Gallery
“The curated exhibitions like those by senior artists like Nalini Malani and Zarina Hashmi, that didn’t happen before, that is in large measure due to the fair as a convenor,” said Ms. Chiu. As a curator, it’s a very good way of getting a sense of what’s happening with Indian artists today, both emerging and established.”
Neha Kirpal, founder of the India Art Fair, wasn’t fazed by the criticism about the quality of art this year. An art world novice when she founded the fair six years ago, Ms. Kirpal said that her goal was to make the market more democratic.
“This is a domestic fair for a domestic audience,” she said. “The art scene here is small and the preference is not to exclude galleries right away.
“We could have made it very exclusive and have only the absolute best, in which case from
there would be 20 galleries that made
that cut. But that’s precisely the problem — the art world is inaccessible. I
am that public that was too intimidated to walk into a gallery as a young
person growing up in India .” India
Among the fair’s 400,000 visitors over the past five years, she said, thousands of them had never before seen art in their lives.For such folks, works like the oil on canvas by Henry Singleton (1766-1839) titled “The Last Effort and Fall of Tipu Sultan,” which was featured at the Delhi Art Gallery booth, would have been an eye opener.
“I am passionate about building something in this country for art and culture that did not exist before,” she said. “We are at a different stage in its development cycle. We are where
was maybe 50 years ago — we are just
about starting off.” London
GAYATRI RANGACHARI SHAH for the New York Times