A space for lesser-known modernists, women artists

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Even as the fair has successfully grown its year-round presence over the past year, much beyond the 4-day event, Asokan says that their digital platforms have grown to become the go-to source for Indian and South Asian art and culture…writes Sukant Deepak

Alongside modern masters, the 2023 fair will bring forth works of several lesser-known modernists, women artists, folk art forms, and young trailblazing artists from previously unexplored parts of the country, including the fair facade which will be transformed into an artwork by contemporary Warli artists and sibling duo, the Vayeda Brothers.

Aiming to drive the conversation towards a more inclusive art world of the future, the fair will host a talks programme titled ‘Align & Disrupt’ curated by Shaleen Wadhwana to deep-dive into essential questions, from representation, philanthropy, patronage, disability, and sustainability.

“For the first time, the key learnings from the talks will be documented in an action plan which will be widely circulated and made accessible to the public,” India Art Fair Director Jaya Asokan tells.

Artworld heavyweights from the likes of Anish Kapoor, JR, Osvaldo Gonzalez and Kiki Smith at Galleria Continua’s booth, standout installations by international artists Anne Samat, Antonio Santin and Diana Al-Hadid at Marc Strauss and Galerie Isa’s booths respectively, as well as established household names in India from Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Shergil and M.F. Husain to the works of superstar artists Bharti Kher, Dayanita Singh and Nikhil Chopra will be witnessed at fair.

Stressing that 2023 is a year for great art, starting with India Art Fair and Mumbai Gallery Weekend which kick off the season, followed by Dhaka Art Summit and Photo Kathmandu Chennai Photo Biennale and Serendipity Art Festival in Goa which open later in the year, Asokan assures that despite the growing number of Corona cases, she is confident at this stage that the event will be held in February in Delhi.

“We will implement strict sanitary measures and guidelines outlined by the government to ensure the health and safety of everyone coming to the fair.”

Even as the fair has successfully grown its year-round presence over the past year, much beyond the 4-day event, Asokan says that their digital platforms have grown to become the go-to source for Indian and South Asian art and culture.

“Our website is a rich repository of editorial features, films, and interviews, as well as means to get to know about the latest jobs, open calls, residencies and opportunities in the art world which are listed under the Noticeboard, as well as a guide to South Asian art exhibitions and events happening in India and globally. We have also actively expanded our programming, by supporting projects and participating in events such as Kochi Muziris Biennale, Serendipity Art Festival, Delhi Art Week, Delhi Contemporary Art Week, Mumbai Gallery Weekend, and Madras Art Weekend, all while continuing to forge cultural dialogue and drive the international conversation on Indian art.”

The 2023 fair has several new initiatives, from an expanded floorspace, with three large exhibition halls dedicated to galleries representing a breadth of established and emerging talent, including returning and new galleries.

“An extended studio space will showcase digital projects and artworks including those by the fair’s first-ever Digital Artist in Residence (DAIR), Mira Malhotra, Gaurav Ogale and Varun Desai, as well as digital art workshops curated by Today at Apple. The all-new India Art Fair poster zine titled Fire in the Belly featuring eight extraordinary woman artists and creative powerhouses, each presenting a vision for a more equal world will also be launched,” she says.

Asokan, who has worked in the fields of arts, fashion, design, and luxury says that while art is at the heart of the fair, and whether it’s the latest in fashion, design, luxury, technology, or any other creative field, their attempt has always been to bring all of these together at the art fair, in some capacity or the other.

“A partnership that we are extremely proud of is BMW India. At the 2023 fair, we look forward to unveiling the new X7 covered in the winning design by Bangalore-based painter and my personal favourite, Devika Sundar.”

She adds that works by India Art Fair’s Artists in Residence — young and rising artists who are experiencing serious career momentum — too are unmissable, be it conceptual artist and feminist Lakshmi Madhavan’s textile installations which pay ode to the dying tradition and makers of the traditional gold-and-white Kasavu textiles of Kerala.

“Varanasi-based Debashish Paul will engage audiences in a thought-provoking performance art piece expressing his innermost joys and fears as a queer artist or the Warli artists and sibling duo who will transform the facade of India Art Fair into the ‘Forest of The Future’,” she concludes.

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