Monday, February 3, 2014

EDITORIAL - India Art Fair : Re-inventing or Re-invented?.. and more


India Art Fair: Re-inventing or Re-invented?

Sixth edition of India Art Fair is now officially over. The ripples that it has created will remain for a while in the social networking sites for a few more days. General euphoria and happy faces that one could see at the NSIC Grounds in Delhi and in the photographs seen in the Facebook indicate a happy future for the art scene. No official sales index has been released yet. However, if human faces are the reflection of the hearts of people, then we should be assured that everything is fine with Indian art scene. Freeloaders and party hoppers always keep a happy face for the flashlights but that is another thing. If one asks for the general trend shown by the IAF, I could say that established names still rule the market. That means no space for surprises. Predictable is the word that could put the sixth edition of the IAF in a nutshell. Some people say that it is a new beginning for the IAF and some others say that it is the beginning of an end. Cynical they may be, but they insist that the IAF needs to re-invent itself.
How could the IAF reinvent itself, by cutting down the number of galleries or implementing quality control? If so, with this edition the IAF has already re-invented itself. The number of galleries is less compared to last year, though the reduction is less than ten. Quality has increased as each work is given enough room for a decent viewing. Hence, the suggestion to re-invent could be ruled out. That means, the IAF is going to be there in the coming years, once in a while throwing some surprises at the viewer and at other times, just being there as an annual event, a post-capitalist cultural ritual of India. If the participating galleries both from India and abroad are happy about the proceedings, better the viewers leave cynicism and complaints behind. Just experience it and move ahead. 
(India Art Fair 2014)
Personally speaking, I am not disappointed by the IAF because I have finally come to a conclusion that the IAF is an international business platform for art. If it is an auto expo, none asks how many cars Hyundai or Bentley or Maruti-Suzuki sold from the venue. If it is national plastic expo, none asks how many buckets and mugs that got sold from there. We need to learn from other industrial expos. Art Fairs are business platforms to attract the buyers, generate interest and forge connections, exchange ideas and strategies against the backdrop of a general festive mood. If one understands this then there is no room for complaint. The works of art displayed at the venue establish this context and an art fair can happen only against works of art; good, bad or ugly.
(India Art Fair 2014)
It is said that international galleries are disappointed because the Indian audience or buyers are just not interested in the works of their artists. It cannot be false. In a market which is predominantly driven by Indian investors marked with this indelible sense of nationalism, a foreign artist who comes from a country with an exhausted market does not hold much charm. If one asks then why the foreign collectors should take interest in Indian artists, the answer is that Indian market is a surging market and has all the capabilities to boom not only once again but several times. In these growing markets, irrespective of nationalities people invest money. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and some other South East Asian countries become important in this context. Foreign galleries cannot complain. The future leaders of this country say that they are all set to beat China in terms of production and market. So the future is here.
( Absolut Kapoor - Work by Anish Kapoor)
Now, about the art that you have just seen at the IAF. A majority of the works of art is created keeping the IAF in mind. But as there has been not enough money in the market for the last few years, even the biggest experiments look like less of its expected sheen. Absolut Anish Kapoor-predictable. Subodh Gupta- predictable. Abhay Maskara Gallery-predictable (minus Shine Sivan’s wig and overt pornography of T.Venkanna), Chemould Gallery-predictable, Vadehra- predictable, Sakshi-predictable and everything and everyone else predictable. Even the viewers’ behaviour is predictable. Socialize till you drop dead; that is the motto. The sculpture courtyard has predictable works. Anindita Dutta has created a clay structure. It reminds one of Subodh Gupta’s first site-specific installations. Chintan Upadhyay admits that his sculpture is ‘yet another effort to show it to the people’. Debanjan Roy has left Gandhiji behind for good. But his motor tyre and tube based nature-scape looks a bit tired. Paresh Maity’s avatar as sculptor has made him look like a tribal artist in a fancy dress. Pretension has no limit when it comes to Riyas Komu’s installation. That comes under a booth called ‘collectors corner’. I do not know which collector has a 250 square feet of space to waste to keep a junk like that in an upmarket household. If it is meant for a museum, I wish them all good. But above all, it is an advertisement even for the artist. 
(Work by Chintan Upadhyay)

Sorry, I could not see all the works in detail. It is like Damien Hirst’s path breaking work’s title: The impossibility of death in the mind of someone living. True, but confusing. Works are there, but you cannot see all of them. However, one cannot be left unimpressed by the third hall where two major galleries in Delhi, Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) and Dhoomimal Art Gallery (DAG) show the richness of their armoury to give a tough fight to the trendy galleries elsewhere. They show their real tanks and cannon balls and the other galleries show their simulated wars in video games. The last laugh belongs to the galleries in the third hall. Rest of them could laugh and smile while most of them could conceptually blow their noses and wipe their tears with imported tissue papers. 
My observations are strictly personal therefore partial. I have some good words to spare for a lot of young artists who are first timers in the IAF. I reserve them for future use. I am sure there are many who have a different idea about the recently concluded India Art Fair. I would be happy to read more of those lines in the coming days. 


(All images have been taken from the net and are for illustrative purposes only)


HA Gade Retrospective

(Work by HA Gade)
DMG Mega Art Complex and Dhoomimal Gallery, New Delhi with the legacy of 70 years in Indian contemporary art  presents ‘A Retrospective of H.A. Gade’. 
H A Gade is remembered as India’s one of the pioneer independent expressionist painter. Like all the painters of the Progressive Artists Group, Gade revolted against the traditions of academic art, which the British education system had clamped on Indian art education. He believed in an unconventional and dynamic artistic style. 

He had a commendable intuitive understanding of the pictorial dimensions of color, and as often referred as a painters' painter.

The show is on view till 10th February 2014.

Unknown Journey

( Work on display)
Korean Cultural Centre India, New Delhi presents the art exhibition titled,’Unknown Journey’ curated by Insang Song. The artworks on display are by Mahaveer Swami from India and Park Sung Yu from Korea who are pursuing the art of today based on the traditional art technique and with the spirit of each country as per their experiences.

The show is on view till 28th February 2014.

The Passionate Quest
( Work on display)
National Gallery Of Modern Art, (NGMA) New Delhi presents a show for all art lovers, an exclusive art collection by eminent Indian woman painter Amrita Shergill. Titled as ‘The Passionate Quest’, the artworks by the artist depict life in Paris, nude studies, still life studies and portraits of friends and fellow students. 

The artist is recognized as the youngest and only Asian artist to be elected as an Associate of the Grand Salon, Paris. Also known by her another name - India’s Frida Kahlo, the artist drew her influence by the impressionists. Her works are a depiction of the beauty and brilliance she possessed. 

The show is on view till 28th February 2014.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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