Return of the Native

The 13th edition of the India Art Fair, beginning April 28, will focus on indigenous art by 79 exhibitors spread across 17 cities 

Published: 24th April 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2022 05:30 PM   |  A+A-

Courtesy: Sakshi-Gallery, Artworks to be showcased by different participating galleries at the IAF

When the 12th India Art Fair (IAF) wound up in January 2020, the air was full of excitement. Twelve new international galleries had taken part in the fair and a brand new section on artists in residence was received with much gusto. 

Returning in a physical avatar after a year-long hiatus, IAF in its latest edition, promises to bring back the energy into the art fraternity. It will be held from April 28 to May 1 at Delhi’s NSIC grounds in Okhla. 
The past two years might have been tough but the IAF has tapped the silver lining, by taking the time off to go deeper into India. 

Like IAF’s past editions, there are international galleries this year too, albeit less in number, but with its lens redirected inwards, the annual art bonanza will see participation by seven new Indian galleries this year. And because the digitisation of the art world has come as a boon, there’s an entire session dedicated to art and technology titled NFTease. 

India Art Fair director Jaya Asokan

Jaya Asokan, who took over as the IAF director from Jagdip Jagpal, says the last two years have been about reset and revaluate, pivoting strategy towards India and assimilating the digital platform. “For this edition, we’ve had to really look within India extensively, not just from an exhibitor point of view but even for collectors. Some of our recent trips to Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai have proven extremely fruitful, where we realised there’s immense interest and passion in collecting amongst different kinds of audiences.”

So, if Kolkata-based Art Exposure gallery is debuting with 50 of the iconic artist Jogen Chowdhury’s paintings, Delhi’s Ojas Art Gallery is bringing a rare mini-retrospective of Madhubani artist Santosh Kumar Das. The artist’s never-seen-before ‘Tantra’ series from the early 1990s will be part of the showcase. Also debuting at the fair will be APRE Art House (Mumbai), Art Incept (Gurugram/New Delhi), (New Delhi) and Vida Heydari Contemporary (Pune).  

Platform, a section that foregrounds traditional Indian art forms, this time, will have on display masterpieces of Gond painting by Jangarh Singh Shyam; rare bhuta bronze masks from Kerala and Karnataka; textiles and wall carpets from Rajasthan and more, under the title ‘Patina and Pigment’. 

Asokan, who has been part of the IAF team for four years as the deputy director, is also excited to get younger artists through institutions and projects. Like Anshuka Mahapatra, the college student from Hyderabad who designed the fair’s facade that celebrates the ideas of hope, love, and togetherness using poetic phrases in Odia, Assamese, Kannada, Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam and English. 

IAF has also been striving to get inclusivity. In 2020, it introduced a film segment––‘Queering Culture’. Continuing the concept, this year, it is showcasing the Aravani Art Project’s  ‘The Future is Femme’––a 50-foot long mural painted by transartists depicting a vision for a gender-free world. While Asokan is looking forward to her first IAF edition as its director, her vision stretches much beyond the four-day event. 

“From a four-day fair that it’s been for the last 12 years, I’d like to have an active programming on art all-year round. There’s enormous potential in collaborations, whether it is working with students, or with international galleries in terms of giving them viewership in India. We also want to do physical  events for young collectors to foster a new community of buyers,” she says.

Through their Lens
Renowned photographer Raghu Rai and French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain will talk at the IAF (May 1) about their book featuring photographs of Paris taken by Rai, and of India by the Ambassador–the result of shared passion and curiosity for each other’s countries and cultures.


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