The fourth edition of the increasingly popular India Art Fair opened with a bang in New Delhi at the end of January. For the VIP crowd of gallerists, artists, journalists, ever-important art patrons, dealers, and Delhiite hipsters, the preview a day before showcased a banner collection of international art under three large white tents à la Frieze London. The exhilarating energy across the Fair was palpable as fried snacks and wine were served to the well-heeled passholders at the VIP Lounge and throughout the fair grounds. I was so happy to be a part of this cultural happening and to be in India at this time in its socioeconomic history.
The brainchild of IAF founder and managing director, Neha Kirpal, this Fair is a growing international art gathering in an emerging market that promotes high art, many of which is produced by artists and artisans of Indian extraction, and appeals to a range of groups from collectors, art dealers and art advisers to students and the educated masses. In a country as population-large as India, appealing to the throngs is naturally empirically big business.
Equally sizeable, is the global art business. Booth exhibitors included international A-list galleries like Hauser & Wirth, Lisson Gallery (Hindi/English labels were well-spotted) and White Cube, Sotheby’s was the IAF’s supporting partner and the Financial Times, my favorite paper, was the official media partner.
The Speakers’ Forum, free and open to the public, was a daily event at the IAF. The sessions brought together an esteemed group of the world’s cultural leaders and agitators in art, philosophy, media, and philanthropy and engaged panelists along themes that were both diverse and of-the-moment.
Over five days, from a Wednesday to a Sunday, streams of stylish participants and attendees delighted in the vibrancy of this major event on Delhi’s social calendar. Also to be enjoyed were the countless satellite events which took place throughout this megacity at Indian galleries in Hauz Khas Village to newly launched exhibits at the gorgeous Devi Art Foundation and Kiran Nader Museum of Art.
The former and latter being spaces I had noted as a must-visit months earlier when planning my trip and which left me enthralled as a first-time visitor. At each destination the concrete spaces were utterly modern and evoked a mood of contemporaneity that was so strikingly in contrast to the chaos of the city outside. Both privately operated, family-owned places were at once a refuge and a find.
In this great land of democracy, the India Art Fair is a great business brand that has a promising future. Its story will continue to unfold next year and once again re-activate the five senses: sights, sounds, tastes, smells AND EMOTIONS to the delight of fair-goers.