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Second coming

India art summit, our biggest art fair, kicks off in Delhi next week. Get ready to push the boundaries of what you think is art, writes Gargi Gupta.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2009 22:03 IST
Gargi Gupta

It began rather feebly last year, but India Art Summit (IAS) is back this coming week with a bang. Five hundred artists, 54 galleries (17 of them from abroad), 30 countries, seminars, book launches, etc — India’s first proper ‘art fair’ has grown in stature in just one year.

While the primary venue remains the same — Pragati Maidan in Delhi — IAS will occupy a far larger space this year. That will preempt at least one criticism that it faced from almost every visitor last year — the cubby-hole like stalls which didn’t allow galleries much room to showcase the artworks. Thankfully this year’s 114-sqm stalls will give Delhiites a chance to see the works in their full glory, without stepping on toes or banging elbows.

And there’ll be a lot to see, especially international art, of which so little comes to India.

Gallery Thavibu from Bangkok will bring Thai-artist Jirapat Tatsanasomboon; the Vietnamese Trinh Tuan; and Aung Kyaw Htet, from Burma, while Arario from Beijing will show Korean artists Osang Gwon and Dongwook Lee and Joonho Jeon alongside Wang Jianwei from China. Mumbai’s Sakshi Gallery will have African artists El Anatsui, Isa Ho and Uche Iroha; while Seven Arts Gallery, Delhi, is collaborating with Thomas Erben of New York to bring in Ala Dehghan (Iranian), Matthias Muller (German experimental filmmaker) and Haeri Yoo (Korean). The prize catch for IAS is Lisson Gallery, London, which will bring in a stellar caste of a group that came to be known as the ‘New British Sculptors’ — Julian Opie, Anish Kapoor, Tony Cragg and Shirazeh Houshiary.

As for the local participants, there’ll be the usual suspects of course. But IAS will also doff its hat to all the new media stuff. There’ll be a separate Video Lounge, a few performances and a ‘sound installation’ by Rashmi Kaleka — ‘Hawkers Ki Jagah’ — a soundtrack of calls of hawkers in Delhi and Howrah.

Unlike last year when everything happened at Pragati Maidan, this year there’s a slew of ‘collateral events’ planned throughout the capital’s galleries and cultural centres. (Among the interesting ones here is an interactive art project on the façade of the British Council Building on KG Marg by Vishal Dar.) What’s more, government bodies — Lalit Kala and NGMA — too have joined the effort to help “build interest and understanding of art”. “It’s one big offer,” as Neha Kirpal, associate festival director, describes aptly.

And the offer’s not just for the initiates. Unlike last year when IAS was open by invitation only, there’ll be ‘visitors passes’ this time that you can buy for Rs 200 and gain access for all four days. This should be an opportunity for all those who feel intimidated by ‘arty stuff’. They can even avail of the curated walks conducted by students of JNU’s School of Art and Aesthetics which aims to “engage small groups of the fair visitors, and encourage an informal dialogue with the works of art on display”. Now that should lead to some fresh perspectives!