Art of the Matter
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Previews are a hurried affair. But, on Thursday evening, as one walked into the NSIC Exhibition Ground, Okhla, the exhibition space was dolled up with over 100 galleries from India and across the globe. Right near the entrance, Reena Saini Kallat's Podium/Cube, a wooden sculpture of 20 cubes, stands unobstructed. On the other side, Replacement by Bangladeshi artist Mahbubur Rahman poses a striking picture, an Ambassador swathed in leather from used army boots, its boot overflowing with army shoes. We walk in and see Neha Kirpal, founder-director, India Art Fair, greeting visitors. Walking down the labyrinthine aisles is Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian art, Christie's, directing a horde of people to each artwork. India's biggest commercial art platform, the fifth edition of India Art Fair, looks ready for its public opening today.
While one saw regulars in Indian galleries such as Delhi Art Gallery, Vadehra Art Gallery, Dhoomimal Gallery and Volte Gallery, and international ones like Aicon (New York), DIE Galerie (Frankfurt), Frida Fine Arts Gallery (Moscow), Grosvenor Gallery (London) and Jack Shainman Gallery (New York), a few fresh faces were seen from countries such as Israel, Turkey and Singapore.
Bringing works of two artists from Istanbul and Armenia, first-timer Yesim Turanli of Pi Artworks from Istanbul, confesses to have been affected by the recent gang rape case, which reflects in Armenian artist Jean Paul Guiragossian's works at the fair. "He looks at women's issues, and how they affect everything around them and the world," says Turanli. She hopes she makes good contacts here. Artist Guiragossian, who is present there, says, "I have looked around. Some works are interesting and some are banal. But after my experience at many art fairs, this by far is the most welcoming and sophisticated."
For Dhaka's Rajeeb Samdani, founder of Samdani Art Foundation and Dhaka Art Summit, the fair is an opportunity to network with collectors, curators, gallerists and museum representatives from world over. "It has emerged as the biggest platform for art in South Asia and a place that is perfect for catching up with people and see the best in the subcontinent. The works in his booth come from his private collection and are not on sale. "We are just here to share art from Bangladesh," he states. On display is Tayeba Begum Lipi's My Daughter's Cot and Ayesha Sultana's work in wood, Tabula Rasa.