By Anirban Bhattacharya
The 2018 Mumbai edition of the India Art Festival (IAF) which opened at Nehru Centre, Worli for VIP previews on the 15th of February, and to the general public on the 16th, nears its close today. The seventh edition of the Mumbai leg of the festival was a star-studded affair with celebrities like singer Sonu Nigam, musician Leslie Lewis, noted chef Sanjeev Kapur and actress Mahima Chaudhury in attendance at the inaugural ceremony. The festival, which has the avowed overarching aim of promoting art in India and Indian art among others, also featured curated ‘Conversations’, a two-day educative seminar offering through a series of panel discussions, expert critiques on topics ranging from contemporary art and the economy, art collection, exhibitions to art galleries and infrastructure. The speakers on these issues include but are not limited to artists, gallerists, cultural organisers, critics, museum directors, historians, editors and publishers.
History of the India Art Festival
Every year since its inception in 2011 under the auspices of the Indian Contemporary Art Journal, the IAF hosts over 400+ exhibiting artists and 50 art galleries from across India and Asian sub-continent, showcasing original artworks from murals to installations, paintings to textiles and more – all under one roof at Thyagaraj Stadium, New Delhi and Nehru Centre, Mumbai. This year saw over 20 new art galleries participating in the festival spread over a total of 150 booths. Rajendra Patil, founder of the IAF reported that over 50 galleries and 575 artists representing 30 cities across 10 countries- of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East were taking part in the current iteration of the festival.
Highlight of the 2017 edition
The highlight of the 2017 New Delhi edition was the surprising number of cows who turned up! Cow sculptures and cow art proliferated to the bewilderment of artists who hilariously often had no clue what others were doing until late. Alka Raghuvanshi, the renowned art critic, had this to say-“Artists respond to what’s happening around them. It’s not something you seek out, but it’s being talked about in the media, so it’s in the back of the head“.
Benefits of the IAF
The India Art Festival to its credit has successfully initiated the process of democratising Indian art market – first by mingling rural artists (made less articulate due to a lack of exposure or opportunities or a combination thereof), with the highly articulate urban artists, who are metro-bred individuals; and second, by creating simple and refreshing ambience for ‘art viewing, buying and selling’ process outside confined and often unapproachable art spaces.
Lauded variously as a melting pot of art, and increasingly as a medium for inducing radical and largely marginalised voices into the mainstream Indian marketplace, rated highly by curators and art critics and connoisseurs alike, the IAF promises to become the crucible upon which contemporary art and art trends in India will later be judged. The festival spoils buyers with its options and is acknowledged for its simple and unbiased presentation of visual art, is also made available through the e-commerce portal ‘eindiartfestival.com’ in the art galleries and artists’ pavilion.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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