Conceived on the lines of Artexpo New York, which provides space to mid-level galleries and foreign artists to put their art on display, Mumbai has been hosting its very own Indian Art Festival since 2011. Now running in its seventh edition, the festival keeps returning to the city from where it originated. “We thought of introducing something on similar lines in India and creating a workforce for artists who don’t get enough recognition otherwise,” says Rajendra, founder and managing director, India Art Festival.
Starting on February 15, this four-day festival will have art lovers soaking in an array of colours, murals, and installations, as artworks from around the globe will be on display. There will be a total of 50 art galleries, 575 artists, close to 5,000 artworks and 150 booths, all under one roof.
Explaining the need to set up such a large-scale art festival, Rajendra reveals that a huge number of artists, who are not associated with any gallery to sell their work, depend on such public platforms to promote their work.
“We bring on board independent artists struggling for a platform. We also bring smaller galleries that are left out of the art circuit but have fantastic works of masters, established, and emerging artists,” elaborates Rajendra.
Art work by Rohan Sonavane
But the bigger aim, says the organiser, is to democratise art viewing and buying in India. “We want to bring out the art confined to fancy spaces — where even true art lovers fear entering — and make it available to the common market,” he beams.
Terming this year’s participation the highest in seven years of its existence, the curator discloses that this edition will have art from Tanzania, Singapore, Tokyo, Qatar, Doha, two galleries from Dubai and artworks from different parts of Europe.
“We also have art from across the length and breadth of India — right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Assam to Ahmedabad,” he smiles, adding that almost 30 per cent artists are city-based.
And while there’s a plethora of creativity available at the festival, Rajendra does not have favourites. “We have each and every medium of artwork on display. Paintings right from watercolour, oil to acrylic, sculptures in wood, stone, and marble. So, if you ask me for best one, it is difficult to choose,” he laughs.
The exhibition will also showcase oleographs by legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma, besides site-specific installations, original prints and drawings in a huge number of sizes. These drawings will deal with a number of subjects like landscape, figurative, abstract, nudes, semi-nudes, religious art, and murals.
But while there continue to be festivals bridging the gap between Indian artists, art galleries, collectors and connoisseurs, Rajendra feels that world of art continues to struggle in India. “The market may have improved but it is not crossing the mark it created in 2008-09. Artists have reduced their prices, and are definitely still worth a buy. It is a good time to buy art,” he advises.
Indian Art Festival, On February 15 to 18,
Nehru Art Centre, Worli