Taking place annually in India’s capital, the India Art Fair is one of the foremost platforms for the commercial art market in India. Formerly known as the India Art Summit, the event has become a prominent one in the calendar of Indian art collectors.With India’s latest growth to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the expansion of its art market has grown in parallel with the India Art Fair at its helm.
As the 2023 edition is kick-starting on February 9, Jaya Asokan, Fair Director of India Art Fair commented, “The scale and diversity of the fair in 2023 reflects the expansion of the contemporary and modern art market across India and South Asia, as well as burgeoning interest from the international community. We’re particularly proud of all of our artists who are testing the boundaries of contemporary and traditional arts or digital innovation, with many coming from previously unexplored regions of India. We’re proud of the quality of work they’re producing and powerfully responding to our changing times.”
Led in partnership with BMW India and with artists’ voices at its centre, the fair will present 86 exhibitors, including 72 galleries and 12 institutions. This year the show has a new venue, NSIC Grounds, Okhla, a larger floorspace, that spans cutting-edge contemporary art and modern masters, and a new Studio presenting the fair’s Digital Artist in Residence programme. Bringing collectors, curators and art professionals together the fair aims to strengthen cultural dialogue and ties with the international art scene.
Luxebook spoke to Jaya Asokan, Fair Director of India Art Fair to get a deeper insight.
What led to the concept of India Art Fair? The Art Fair is in its 14th year. It was founded in 2008 with its inaugural edition known as the India Art Summit but it has grown to be one of the largest fairs in South Asia for Indian Art specifically. The vision is to expand the Indian art scene in India and abroad.
Are there any significant changes in the world of art in the recent past? Throw light on how it has been showcased at the fair.
Recently, India has become the world’s fifth-largest economy and the art market has grown in parallel with it. I strongly believe that the fair aids this, and there is a lot of opportunity for growth.
The development of the Indian art market is also very dynamic with domestic demand. The last fair – which was one of our most commercially successful shows – for example, we didn’t have a lot of international visitors because of covid which just goes to show that there is a very strong domestic demand, passion and interest in collecting beyond the traditional centres of Delhi and Bombay. There has been expansion across the country.
Are there any new techniques that are flourishing in the art space?
I think digital art. After the success of the showcase of digital art and NFTs in the 2022 edition, the fair will continue to build on this conversation through a special showcase of these young digital artists in residence. Digital art is definitely here to stay.
What are some of the new initiatives to look forward to at the India Art Fair 2023?
Every year, we build upon the last year and expand our program. One of the things I’ve been keen on and instrumental in doing is shifting it from a four-day format to having events all through the year. We had a collector’s weekend in Baroda, Kolkata, we do smaller events in cities like Chennai. The idea is to have a pan-India presence. But building on the success of the last edition, this fair itself has several new initiatives from expanded floor space to four large exhibition halls dedicated to galleries and institutions. We have many new galleries like STORIES ART GALLERY (Ahmedabad), Treasure Art Gallery (New Delhi), Gallery Dotwalk (Gurugram), Dhi Artspace (Hyderabad), Chemould CoLab (Mumbai), Iram Art (Ahmedabad). Showcasing solo presentations curated by participating galleries, this year the Focus section will put a strong emphasis on painters from distinguished names such as Jayashree Chakravarty (Akar Prakar, Kolkata / New Delhi), Avijit Dutta (Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad) and Waswo X. Waswo (Gallery Espace, New Delhi), rising mid-career artists, Anni Kumari (Treasure Art Gallery, New Delhi) to emerging artists Viraj Khanna (Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai) and Digbijayee Khatua.
The fair will also have an extended studio space showcasing digital artwork. This is the fair’s first-ever Digital Artists in Residence with Apple and we have collaborated with three artists Mira Felicia Malhotra; artist, poet and writer Gaurav Ogale; and multidisciplinary artist Varun Desai. Devika Sundar has also exhibited her BMW car art. The India Art Fair has published a posterzine for the first time featuring 8 women artists and powerhouses.
What can we expect to see at the India Art Fair 2023?
A bit of everything – digital art, a focus on women artists, contemporary younger unknown names alongside modern masters, folk art forms – including the façade of the fair itself that will be transformed into an artwork.
How do plan to pivot towards the youth?
We have a young collector’s program. We very keenly want to get young collectors involved in the art fair to engage with the fair, the collectors in the younger generation want to have an experience because it is a reflection of their personality. This year we are doing it in Bikaner House in Delhi, and we’ve partnered with a gallery that has not had much exposure, this time it’s XXL collective who are launching for the first time ever.
We engage with the collectors in a way to make art very accessible, more approachable and more inclusive because we feel access to art is vital. But sometimes it can be intimidating and academic. So, this program aims to make it approach for these young people.
Tell us about your favourite pieces from fair
I really enjoy looking at some of the new artists like Surabhi Choudhary and Kaimurai, these are some new artists we’ve never seen before and that is very exciting to me. To be able to give them that platform especially pan-India and a global platform because this year we have a lot of international visitors to see their work and engage with them personally.
Other than that, with the international galleries, it’s also fun. We have Galleria Continua who will present works by Anish Kapoor and Saskia Fernando from Sri Lanka. But for me, it’s more the length and breadth of the representation and the region that we can bring to the forefront.
What goes behind curating the entire fair? What’s the process like?
As a team, we brainstorm very early in the year in terms of what we want to focus on. This year one is digital – which we’ve successfully done with Apple; another is to represent general artists who are not represented by galleries and give them a platform and very often after the fair they get gallery representation, so initiatives like this.
In general, we try to make the fair a lot more inclusive beyond just the art itself. It’s the talks, workshops and other elements of the fair working with the city to activate the city in general. This time the talks program will dive deep into conversations surrounding the art and artist to shape the future of an inclusive art scene. Also, for the first time, the key learnings and insights from the talks will be documented in an action plan which will be circulated and made accessible to the public post the fair.
We build upon each edition and each edition is different in what we want to focus on. But the ultimate aim is to make it bigger and have a wider reach.