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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

India Art Fair: the classic frames return

Aakriti Sawhney, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 31, 2014
First Published: 18:22 IST(31/1/2014) | Last Updated: 19:33 IST(31/1/2014)

No cutting edge installations, no bizarre artworks, not trying too hard. As we stood in the centre of the main foyer at the sixth edition of India Art Fair at NSIC Grounds, we were surrounded by canvases, paintings, wall art and framed works — undoubtedly, the conventional classic format has made a big comeback.

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As the fair director, Neha Kripal says, “The audience respond to what they relate to. Over the years, the IAF has become the audience’s fair. 40% of our buyers are first time investors in art and that too, from smaller cities in India.”

Peter Femfert of Die Galerie, Germany, adds, “Indian art market is still very conventional. Buyers and collectors come looking for Souza and Raza.” Femfert’s booth has some amazing works of Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Andre Masson, all in the conventional format. The installations at the fair, the few we spotted, too seemed to take from the canvases around.

(L) Best known for his portraiture, artist Riyas Komu captures extreme emotions. This untitled work is a portrait of a girl dealing with her fading identity fuelled by the socio-political inequalities of contemporary India. (R) French artist Donadini has very interesting mix media works at the fair. The one on the left is a portrait of Coco Chanel made with red lipstick, and the one above is a wrinkled canvas with a real static brush.

While this time around some big names decided to give the fair a miss, museums like Himalayas Art Museum, Shanghai, debuted at the fair.

Nonetheless, with artworks worth Rs. 400 crore and more than 3,000 artworks from 1,000 artists across the globe, the fair has claimed a space for itself in the art circuit, both in India and abroad.

The art fraternity supports the trend that we spotted:

Indian art market is still very conventional. Buyers and collectors come looking for Souza and Raza
Peter Femfert of Die Galerie, Germany

We have always had strong faith in the traditional genre of art, which has and will always survive despite the ups and downs of the art market
Shobha Bhatia, director, Gallerie Ganesha

Collectors and new buyers want to invest in art that they can show on their walls
Renu Modi, Director, Gallery Espace


“What’s interesting is the fact that the fair stimulates many interesting art events around it. So it’s not just the fair ground that sees some of the best art action, but also the rest of the city,” says Shireen Gandhy of gallery Chemould, Mumbai.  

Other interesting features include a ­curated art project with 24 large-scale installations, performance art and more. We give you a glimpse of the works that caught our fancy.

Artist Atul Dodiya’s Tsumani is a part of a larger series. Through this work, the artist is metaphorically addressing the loss of faith and helpnessness prevailing in the society. Once you open the shutters, the inside view of an ocean is connected with the tears of a woman.
 

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