India’s biggest Modern Art exhibition was back, and this time even bigger and better! The 12th Edition of The Indian Art Fair (IAF) held at the NSIC Ground, Okhla Phase III, New Delhi, opened its space to national and international Museums, Art Galleries, Art Studios, Live Art Performances, Exhibitions, Art Walks, and Talks from the 30th Jan 2020 to 2nd Feb 2020. With over 81 Exhibitors and 59 Art Institutions participating this year, the fair promoted cultural discourse through a broad and exciting line-up of large-scale installations, conversations, screenings, performances and live events, engaging a diverse audience with a wide spectrum of artistic practices. Partnering up with major Indian festivals such as Kochi Biennale, Serendipity Arts Festival, and the Chennai Photo Biennale facilitated with ambitious projects. Keeping the artists’ voice at the core, IAF 2020 was able to focus on modern and popular art culture.
Since its inception in 2008, the IAF has become a platform to appreciate and celebrate South Asian modern and contemporary art while also encouraging buying of art. Director Jagdip Jagpal, who took over the IAF in 2018, candidly talked about the event and said, “The vision of the India Art Fair is to showcase the diversity of contemporary and traditional art, from India and overseas.” She also added that as always, 70% of the floor space is reserved for Indian galleries and she ensured that that will never change. While talking about the design of the IAF, she praised the Mumbai-based contemporary architect Sameer Kulavoor for the façade.
Walking into the event after a short drop off by the electric BMW cars and electric carts, one saw three tents to the right which housed art galleries divided into Masters, Contemporary and International. These tents opened up to outdoor installations in the middle of the ground with the live art performances going on all day. Towards the left were the food stalls, Auditorium and this year’s newest addition, Bookshop and Cafe. The information desks set across the venue helped with on-spot registration for Auditorium talks and Art Walks. The venue was wheelchair friendly and also kept braille guides for blind visitors.
In attendance were India’s renowned modernist galleries such as Dhoomimal Art Gallery (New Delhi, since 1936), Archer Art Gallery (Ahmedabad) and DAG (New Delhi/ Mumbai/ New York), among many others. The Master’s tent displayed well known pieces by artists such as M. F Husain, Raja Ravi Verma, K. H Ara, S. H. Raza and India’s finest sculptor K. S. Radhakrishnan.
The contemporary art galleries that caught the most eyes were Nature Morte (New Delhi), Gallery Espace (New Delhi), Kiran Nadar Museum Art and PHOTOINK (New Delhi).
Leading artists such as Nilima Sheikh, Martin Parr, Raisa Kabir, and Jelili Atiku, among others, involved in conversations, discussions, and live and interactive art performances. New Indian galleries included this year are Art Explore (New Delhi), Arts of the Earth (New Delhi), Gallery White (Vadodara), and Pichvai Tradition & Beyond (New Delhi). Some returning international artists were David Zwirner and Ai Weiwei along with galleries such as 1x1 Art Gallery (Dubai), Aicon Contemporary (New York), Grosvenor Gallery (London) and Galeria Karla Osorio (Brasil). This year also saw participation from new international galleries such as Marc Straus (New York), Tableau (Seoul, South Korea), Saskia Fernando Gallery (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and PSM (Berlin).
K. H Ara at Dhoomimal Art Gallery
Abhijit Pathak’s Milieu 2, 3, 4
Mrinalini Mukherjee’s Van Raja II at KMNA
Bharti Kher’s Mother 2019 at Nature Morte
Galeria Karla Osorio (Brasil)
Ai Weiwei’s Grapes 2017
David Zwirner (London / Hong Kong / New York / Paris)
Geum, Key Sook’s Episodes in Red (South Korea)
Twin Spotting by Ketaki Sheth at PHOTOINK
The most talked about international partners this year were the BMW Group India who displayed the most photographed car in the world, Andy Warhol’s BMW M1! The BMW Group also exhibited a collection of their eye-catching toy car models with ‘car art’ dating from 1975.
The outdoor installations included Rathin Barman’s Architectural Spaces (2018), Vijay Pichumani’s Drops (2019) and Farah Mulla’s Crosswalk (2019) along with a live art performance by the Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku with his politically charged piece, entitled Nobody is Born Wise.
Farah Mulla’s Crosswalk 2017 (from inside)
The Art Talks, which comprised an important part of IAF 2020, were conducted at the Auditorium. One of the featured topics was on South Asian Textile Art with Uthra Rajgopal (from the Whitworth, Plans for Future Museums) who moderated between Raisa Kabir and textile artist Arshi Irshad Ahmadzai.
The Bookshop and Café also attracted attention with its modern retail museum interiors offering art books, magazines, and graphic novels, as well as art supplies, stationery and artist-designed lifestyle products and so on. The Learning Space inside the bookshop also hosted daily workshops, screenings and signings aimed at engaging and educating both students and collectors about South Asian modern and contemporary art. Artists such as Gagan Singh, Ghiora Aharoni, Marcel Dzama, Manisha Parekh and Renuka Rajiv conducted sessions on drawing, sketching and illustration in a unique programme called ‘Artists in Residence.’
After the long and enriching encounter with art and artists, the visitors went to the food stalls to enjoy the rest of the chilly evenings with warm and delicious food.
The exhibition is held every year in New Delhi in collaboration with museums and patrons, art studios, private collections, art foundations and institutions across the country and the world, also playing a role in bridging the gap between the art industry and the public.
The Art Fair started with the Preview on 3Oth of Jan for the VIP cardholders and exhibitors. The fair was accessible to the general public and students from 2pm – 7pm on 31st Jan 1st Feb, and from 10am – 6pm on 2nd Feb.