Indian Art Fair 2014
Art galleries and impresarios are all waiting with bated breath for the India Art Fair 2014, set to begin this month-end. All the shows have been planned around it, magazine and book launches are scheduled to synchronise with the Fair, and nearly all the artists have been vying for an opportunity to exhibit there. And everyone is asking the big question: Will the Fair mark the revival of the fortunes of the art market, or will the phenomenal sale at the recent Christies auction of a painting by Gaitonde and other modern masters be a just a flash in a pan?
In terms of exhibitors, most of the usual suspects will be seen again, with all the major Indian galleries showcasing their artists. The Europeans have increased their presence, perhaps sensing a greater liquidity, though one will have to wait to see the quality of works and artists on display.
Surprisingly, China and Japan have yet to make their presence felt at the Fair. For most viewers and trend spotters, the most significant aspect would be to assess the impact of the slowdown on the art production itself. One can see that, at least in the case of some artists, there is a creeping traditionalism in their art practices, with lesser cutting-edge experimentation.
However, it is only at congregations of the scale such as the Fair that one can make a fair judgement of whether galleries as well as artists are playing it safe, given that buyers have become scarce and less adventurous in terms of investment.
The actual business aspect of art fairs around the world range from average to humongous, and it is difficult to actually assess where to place the Indian Art Fair in this category, given the vagueness of sale transactions in Indian art. Yet, in terms of footfalls, the Fair does evoke and invite great interest.