India Art Fair to start from January 28 at Delhi’s NSIC Exhibition Ground

Director Jagdip Jagpal gives a lowdown of India’s biggest art fair, coming up this week in Delhi
Artworks by Marcel-Dzama, Sameer Kulavoor and Mrinalini Mukherjee among others to be showcased at India Art Fair 2020
Artworks by Marcel-Dzama, Sameer Kulavoor and Mrinalini Mukherjee among others to be showcased at India Art Fair 2020

Preparations are on full swing for the four-day India Art Fair (IAF)starting January 28 at Delhi’s NSIC Exhibition Ground, Okhla. In its 12th edition, the fair promises to showcase the best of art from home and international galleries. The Sunday Standard spoke with Director Jagdip Jagpal on what the fair will bring to Delhi and how current times in India impacts art and artists.

What are the major highlights of IAF 2020? 
This year, as with 2018 and 2019, the fair will retain a strong connection to its home base, with a defined 70 per cent of the floor space dedicated to Indian exhibitors, while welcoming a selection of top international galleries who bring works by celebrated artists who have never or rarely shown in India. One can expect to see over 75 exhibitors, with participants spanning 20 different global cities, with 14 in India. On top of it all, the IAF facade designed by the brilliant Sameer Kulavoor, which celebrates ordinary men, women, objects and traditions that give life and breath to Delhi. We have also expanded the public programming extensively, positioning the artists’ voice at the core with artist-led talks, live performances and projects. 

Jagdip Jagpal
Jagdip Jagpal

For the first time in its 12-year history, the fair will have an all-new Artists in Residence section. Whether it is drawing classes led by the tremendously popular artist Gagan Singh, a session on how to produce zines by Bombay Underground, or a workshop on collage making by contemporary artists Ghiora Aharoni and Renuka Rajiv, the programme welcomes participants from all ages and backgrounds to indulge in DIY art. 

Another new addition is the Bookshop & Cafe, a museum-style retail space, offering art books, catalogues, and zines to art supplies and artist-designed lifestyle products, as well as the annual issue of the IAF Magazine. Our partners CMYK Books will stock the best titles and host daily standing book-signings, including those by celebrated artists Marcel Dzama, Martin Parr and Prabhakar Pachupate. 
2020 also marks five years of partnership BMW Group India, who will return as title sponsors with an exclusive showcase of the 1979 BMW Art Car hand-painted by Andy Warhol – arriving from the BMW Museum in Munich to IAF in Delhi. 
In lieu of the CAA-NRC protests, any artworks have reflectedthe current socio-political scenario?
As always, IAF’s programme of talks, projects and performances will spotlight artists who process current events and political, social, and ecological changes through the novel or genre-defying formats.

#MeToo has swept the art communities in the West and India, will it impact sale of artworks, specifically by artists named in the movement?
It is difficult to say what the impact might be. What exploded as a tidal wave on social media has translated into robust public debate. However, the issue is much more complex than it appears and will require that we take time to sit back, reflect on past behaviour and decide what’s next for the movement. We feel that this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the sector collectively. 
Setting an example, National Portrait Gallery refused funding from the Sackler family in March 2019 on accounts of their role in Opioid crisis in America. In India, do you foresee such a phenomenon taking place ever? 
It is only recently that sources of income for museums have come under scrutiny, chiefly due to increasing emphasis on good governance, transparency and accountability to members of public and a range of stakeholders. In India, however, national institutions are not privately funded, and cases of such interrogation are less likely to occur.

Tell us about the next generation Indian artists who are establishing themselves across the world?
Indian and South Asian artists are doing incredibly well internationally, with their works being showcased in major galleries, museums, biennales and fairs around the world. 

Works by Magnum photographer Sohrab Hura, who opened a solo at the prestigious Cincinnati Museum of Art (USA), will be exhibited at Experimenter’s booth, while another breakout artist of the year, Salman Toor, will show with Aicon Art (New York) at the fair. 

With textiles finally getting their moment in the art world, contemporary artists Raisa Kabir and Arshi Irshad Ahmadzai will take part in an Auditorium Talk to discuss the growing popularity and versatility of the medium. 

Feminist artists Chitra Ganesh and Tehmeena Firdos will also be represented at Gallery Espace and Art Centrix Space’s booth respectively. Project88 artist Mahesh Baliga is another fantastic artist to watch out for at this year’s IAF. 

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