Light & Shade

Dark clouds of recession are still looming over the market globally, but India strengthened its position as an art centre in 2012. While the much-awaited Kochi-Muziris Biennale made its debut, numerous other fairs and galleries hosted significant exhibitions. In the auction circuit, experimentation was the key

All is Fair

From its humble beginnings in 2008 as the India Art Summit, to a sprawling India Art Fair in 2012 the fourth edition emerged out of its modest numbers and hosted as many as 1,000 works from 20 countries. However, apart from the numbers, Neha Kirpal's brainchild not only introduced interesting elements such as Sam Jinks' hyper-real works, human art or the mind-fuelling works of diaspora artists, but it is also remembered for pulling in famous (read expensive) international names such as Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn. The following months also saw two other fairs that raised perfunctory eyebrows, but the steam fizzled out soon, as expected. While United Art Fair in Delhi, boasting over 2,500 works, promised to be India's first platform for new artists, with no galleries involved, India Art Festival's second edition in Mumbai exhibited over 3,000 works by over 500 artists from 50 cities.

Foreign Entry

International artists young and old, recognised and upcoming were all India-bound. The year began with Yoko Ono enthralling aficionados with her debut exhibition and performance. The very next month, in February, German artist Eberhard Havekost was in Mumbai, and Indian and German artists came together in a travelling exhibition called "Examples to Follow" that promoted environmental awareness. Delhi's Vadehra Art Gallery brought together two greats Pablo Picasso and FN Souza in January, and in November, it had Wolfgang Laib with his work rooted in nature. Meanwhile, Tasveer Gallery shared its engagement with India through the frames of eight photographers, from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Marilyn Silverstone and Bruno Barbey.

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