‘Indian art market is on course to have its best performing year ever’ | The Financial Express

‘Indian art market is on course to have its best performing year ever’

India Art Fair director Jaya Asokan talks about the scale and diversity of the upcoming annual art festival, art and sustainability, digital art and more

‘Indian art market is on course to have its best performing year ever’
Jaya Asokan, Fair Director

There is something for everyone at the upcoming India Art Fair 2023, says Jaya Asokan, fair director.

“The scale and diversity reflect the expansion of the contemporary and modern art market across India and south Asia,” she adds.

With 85 galleries and institutions which are widely inclusive and diverse in representation of artists, mediums, and price points, the fair’s first-ever poster zine titled ‘Fire in the Belly’, featuring eight women artists and creative powerhouses, is a new addition. Featuring internationally recognised artists, activists and writers such as Anikesa Dhing, Aravani Art Project, Aqui Thami, Dhruvi Acharya, Meena Kandasamy, Rithika Pandey, Shilpa Gupta and Zeenat Kulavoor, the zine is meant to be torn, pasted and used to spread feminist messages towards creating a more equal world.

An arresting selection of tech-meets-art projects and installations is ‘The Studio’ with projects made on iPad Pro. Visual artist and illustrator Mira Felicia Malhotra highlights the oddities and idiosyncrasies of Indian family life in vibrant portraits of women titled Loag Kya Kahenge; artist, poet and writer Gaurav Ogale will invite audiences to explore the extraordinary biographies of ordinary people through an audio-visual book anthology series Bestsellers. A special digital project supported by the Serendipity Arts and The Gujral Foundation is a video and tech-inspired artworks by Julien Segard, Payal Arya and Aditi Kulkarni.

A cultural journey curated with artists ranging from Jitesh Kallat, Anish Kapoor to young artists like Bengaluru’s Devika Sundar whose award-winning design for BMW X7 will be featured at this edition, the fair is also testing the boundaries of contemporary and traditional arts or digital innovation, with many coming from previously unexplored regions of India.

“Each year, the fair nominates powerful new rising voices as India Art Fair’s Artists in Residence. In 2023, there is Vayeda Brothers, Debashish Paul, Lakshmi Madhavan, who will engage with audiences through special projects and workshops. While Warli artists from Ganjad in rural Maharashtra Vayeda Brothers will take over the facade of the fair, Varanasi-based Paul will open up about his inner joys and challenges of being queer in a performance art piece and Madhavan will pay homage to the

dying kasavu weaving traditions of Kerala in a large-scale textile installation supported by Devi Art Foundation. Belonging to different parts and regions of the country, each opens up a new way of thinking and telling the stories of India,” shares Asokan. Edited excerpts from an interview with Jaya Asokan:

How has the Indian art market picked up since the last fair?


India has recently become the world’s fifth-largest economy, with the expansion of the art market having grown in parallel, and IAF at its helm. The Indian art market is on course to have its

best-performing year ever based on the first six months of FY23. With a turnover of $75.8 million as of 30 September 2022, according to Indian Art Investor’s Indian Art Market Report, FY23 is likely to exceed FY22. The recent success of Mumbai Gallery Weekend in January is also testament to the growing curiosity, enthusiasm and dynamism in the market.

Do we see a strong connection between art and sustainability? How is it reflected in the fair?


Artists of this generation are increasingly exploring themes of ecology and the environment in their work. From young names like Nataraj Sharma, Shilpi Sharma and Throngkiuba Yimchungru showing with galleries at the fair to Parag Tandel’s large-scale outdoor installation that reflects on the impact of human greed on the ecology of the artist’s home city of Mumbai to Serendipity Art Foundation’s Food Lab which will invite public to explore the various forces that shape our relationship with food, from labour and the environment to politics, trade, ethics, culture and business, the fair will showcase a diverse range of voices addressing critical questions about ecology and the environment.

In fact, this year’s facade designed by the Vayeda Brothers titled ‘Forests of the Future’ presents a vision of a wholesomely integrated and creative way of living in harmony with the natural world. Although ultra-contemporary in its outlook and appeal, the facade is rooted in the traditional values of the ancient Warli art form, and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of sustainable living and the role that art and culture can play in shaping a better future.

Anything specific that IAF 2023 has in store for climate change and action?

The fair continues to build on its sustainability efforts year-on-year. Committed to improving the show’s ecological footprint and sharing art in the most sustainable manner possible, we recycle and reuse the fair exhibition tents, floors and walls to having glass bottles; ticketing is digital only; transitioning to printing fair signage on fabric; using F&B biodegradable dishes; and encouraging visitors to adopt public transport. The 2023 edition will host a talk titled ‘What Are We Causing: Art, Environment & Sustainability’ inviting artists Sharbendu De, Dharmendra Prasad, and Rida Gatphoh, to reflect on the impact of art on the environment in a conversation moderated by Nobina Gupta. This is a must attend!

Is there a growing interest among young millennials in digital art as a product and investment?

The pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges for the Indian art world, but it has also led to an outpouring of creativity and resilience. Artists have used their talents to convey the emotions and experiences of this difficult time, and their works have taken on new meaning and relevance. One of the most striking examples of this is the explosion of digital art and artists. This shift will be widely reflected at the fair in a large and expanded ‘The Studio’ which will house arresting digital art projects. Also, the discussion about NFTs increased understanding and interest in digital art and artists, who have gained popularity during the pandemic. Beyond the fair, we will transform Delhi’s beloved Bikaner House into a Young Collectors Hub, with an exhibition of innovative urban street artists, photography, and performances, and a brand-new video creators room or VCR to showcase cutting-edge video art by Indian and South Asian artists and present it as a collectible art form.

India Art Fair starts from February 9 to 12 at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds in New Delhi

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First published on: 05-02-2023 at 01:45 IST