India Art Festival after its celebrated second edition at the MMRDA Grounds, BKC, Mumbai moves back to the a moderate Nehru Centre, Worli for its third edition. Rajendra (Patil), Director of India Art Festival speaks to JohnyML about its third edition. He also reveals his hopes, fears and aspirations about Indian art market and art fairs in general. Excerpts:
JohnyML: The third edition of India Art Festival has now moved back to the Nehru Centre. What is the reason for moving it from Bandra-Kurla Complex to Nehru Centre?
Rajendra: The decision to move back to Nehru Centre can be attributed to the costly logistics associated with doing the art festival in the open ground. When it comes to real estate, space and other related infrastructure, Mumbai is a costly city compared to any other city in India (second only to Washington D.C in the world). As Art market is in economic doldrums, exhibitors won’t pay higher booth rent to meet this costly logistics in the open ground. The only choice left was to move back to Nehru centre, which has few constraints, like space limitation but has benefits like strategic location close to south Mumbai.
JohnyML: India Art Festival has a mixed approach. It has gallery booths and artists’ booths. Also it promotes curated sections? Does this mixed approach make commercial sense?
|(Collage of India Art Festival 2011)|
Rajendra: In India, we do not have many galleries; the numbers of galleries are insufficient to accommodate two/three art fairs in the country. Further, we do not have sufficient number of economically self reliant artists (outside gallery system) who can help sustain art fair. Curated sections are part of our efforts to bring in insightful curators and talented artists to the art festival but funds really is an issue with art festival to introduce more curated sections. In this inflationary economy, it really does not make commercial sense even in this mix module, else we would not have shifted from BKC to Nehru Centre again. We are trying to sustain India Art Festival in the absence of sponsors and the way many galleries and artists are supporting art festival, we are sure, we will sail through these turbulent waters.
|(Still from India Art Fair 2012 New Delhi)|
JohnyML: As the director of India Art Festival, how do you perceive the future of Art Fairs in India? How do you assess the performances of India Art Fair, Bengaluru Art Fair, Chennai Art Fair and United Art Fair?
Rajendra: Art fairs are started almost in all major cities in the country and there surely is good future, as art fairs expand the base of art patronage in their respective cities; all constituents of art market should understand the role of art fairs and should support it whole heartedly.
India Art Fair performance is good, no doubt at par with international standards, except that they hugely compromised with their brand in the last edition, even when they got a strong presenting sponsor in “Yes Bank”. You also visited and might have seen some newly accommodated galleries whose participation was rejected every year. The galleries who do not put up single curated show in a year and are sort of painting outlets were included in their last edition!! I fail to understand why, as nothing would have gone wrong if there were 5/6 booths less in their fifth edition. If they just want to complete the targeted number of exhibitors, I am sure then quality will go down. Plus, coffee at Rs.350, a daylight robbery as described by Girish Shahane should be avoided. I don’t know about sale, but it is obvious, more the number of booths, lesser will be the sale, as buyers get divided.
Chennai and Bengaluru Art Fairs are good attempts and definitely help the cause of art promotion in the long run. Art Chennai format is different and not exactly art fair; it’s more of a biennale format.
United Art Fair was good, booth fabrication quality was superb; media coverage/advertisement was also incredible. All are curious about second edition of United Art Fair and eager to see what new things reputed art experts roped in by Annurag Sharma can bring in to United Art Fair.
|(Installation from India Art Fair 2012)|
JohnyML: Tell us a little about the economic side of the last India Art Festival. Is it going to make profit this year?
Rajendra: Well, it is obvious to judge economic side of last edition of India Art Festival when it is shifted from MMRDA ground, BKC to Nehru Centre, Worli. The ups and downs are fine in the initial stages when you spend lot of funds on the basic infrastructure and experimentation. Let us hope, third edition will take us to the goal.
|(India Art Festival 2012)|
JohnyML: What kinds of measures have been taken to ensure quality in the third edition of India Art Festival?
Rajendra: As said earlier, shifting to Nehru Centre has a space limitation. But this space limitation can be used to introduce quality in the entire art festival. There were 226 medium to small size booths at MMRDA ground BKC, as compared to 150 smaller booths that can be housed in Nehru centre; so, we can provide booths to hardly 65% participants from last year. This will bring in selection of exhibitors and quality itself will improve.
JohnyML: Since 2010, art market players have been telling that the coming year would bring a positive change. Do you think that this year art economy is going to look up?
Rajendra: I would love to see art economy improve, as running an art magazine and continuing conducting art festival has become a daunting task; but I do not see any sign of it in a year or so. In the last few months, few major Lado Sarai galleries have closed their display space and started operating from office/home. It is not as such that there is severe recession or country’s economy is in bad shape. Now, it is not economy but the FAITH which we have lost affecting the art market. This faith which was lost in 2008 when the bubble burst, is difficult to restore in the art buyer/collector community, as it requires a very slow concentrated effort. Art market condition will surely improve, but not over night (the way our friends created artists in boom period); it will be a gradual process. Storm brings destruction in couple of hours but re-building takes months and years.
JohnyML: Do you think that Kochi Muziris Biennale could create the much needed hype for Indian art scene? Could it change our art economy?
Rajendra: Hype? To some extent, yes, both good and bad!! Single event does not change art economy; it has to be a persistent effort and continuous events (annual/bi-annual) to generate knowledge based awareness and create new set of art enthusiasts and art buyers. One should be happy if Kochi-Muziris Biennale has created new class of art patrons even in Kochi. Nonetheless, it was commendable on the part of organizers to plan an event of such magnitude which was difficult to handle even by seasoned event organizers! Biennale history in India is sort of cursed and this enshrines true success of Kochi-Muziris biennale in its second edition!
JohnyML: As the director of India Art Festival, what is the highlight of this edition?
Rajendra: There will be a general pavilion where art galleries will be putting their exhibits on the ground floor in separate booths and artists pavilion is placed on the second floor. We are trying to have a sculpture park outside in the open space. IAF Conversations for third edition will be programmed by Ranjit Hoskote and we are looking forward to invite writers/curators/gallerists from across the country for participation in the CONVERSATIONS. We are sure, the third edition of IAF will enlarge the periphery of art patronage by adding new art buyers through the dissemination of proper art market knowledge.
|(A sculpture by Reghu G)|
Gallery Sumukha of Bangalore presents a solo show of sculptures by sculptor Reghu G. The show displays sculptures by the renowned sculptor in a variety of mediums. Reghu G is known for his interesting figures and figurines in terracotta and ceramics.
|(Paraffin Wax sculpture by Anita Dube at Nature Morte, Berlin)|
|(Samir Mondal painting at Figuratives Figure Show)|
Art for a Cause
Works by artists like, K H Ara, F N Souza, Akbar Padamsee, Badri Narayan, Prafulla Dahanukar, Samir Mondal, Bharti Prajapati, Bina Aziz, Brinda Chudasama Miller, Sanatan Dinda, Kishore Roy, Atin Basak, Buwa Shetye, Seema Kohli, Surya Prakash, Lalitha Lajmi and many other contemporaries of today’s art world will be on display.
The show promises to display a huge eclectic mix of works by renowned and upcoming artists in various mediums and styles.
The show is on view till the 22nd of June 2013.
(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)
|(A painting by K H Ara)|
In an attempt to raise funds for cancer patients, The Viewing Room, Mumbai presents a mammoth group show of works by 105 artists from different generations, from all over the country. The proceeds of the sales will go for the cause of cancer research.
(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)