It has barely been a day since the curtains were drawn over the eighth edition of the annual art mela, The India Art Fair 2016 and we, at ARTSOME, are already suffering pangs of nostalgia. The ARTSOME team was rocking from the word go and preparations for the mother of all art fests in the capital had commenced more than a month in advance. With the sunny ‘Yellow Brick Road’ at the Taj Vivanta doubling as our meeting venue and frenzied and babbling over endless shots of caffeine and mugs of green tea, the entire ARTSOME Team, helmed ably by the young and vivacious Director Anubha Jain, was full of enthusiasm, verve and zest.
Of particular interest were the ARTSOME Dailies published on DAYS 2, 3 and 4 of the India Art Fair. Now, these newsletters were like a one-stop, portable guide for all visitors and even gallerists, artists and organisers at the Fair, featuring Daily Highlights; sound bites and interviews from eminent artists, gallerists, sponsors, management, high profile visitors and special guests at the art fair; informative articles and features covering myriad aspects of the art world; as well as quirky and innovative terminology, besides announcing the launch of the one of its kind app on the art world being launched courtesy ARTSOME. Virtually anyone and everyone was seen reading and carrying copies of the Dailies much to our delight and reassurance!
Continuing the tradition of specially curated walks for the India Art Fair since 2015, this year, ARTSOME brought to its fold three very interesting topics for the walks. Anubha Gupta led the show with her walk on ‘Special Highlights’ of the India Art Fair especially for the VIPs and other eminent visitors.
The young and vivacious Prapti Mittal chose ‘Contextualising Contemporary Art’ as her theme in which she spoke about how the contemporary world is full of trials and tribulations, many of which have international consequences. Artists in this regard, have played their role to take a stand on these international issues and present them in a manner that hits the viewer in the conscience. Feminism, environmentalism, globalization and commercialization, politics, justice, terrorism and minority identity are issues that have been tackled with by the international community for decades and centuries. What is, however, interesting about social commentary by Indian artists is the way it adapts itself in the Indian context. She covered a diversity of works such as Subodh Gupta’s fancy metallic bicycle with bananas as well as ‘The Garbh: Layers and the Surface’ a project by Delhi-based artist Puneet Kaushik.
The intense Enakshi covered the special ‘Art Projects’ at the India Art Fair that comprised of a diversity of interesting works such as: Joel Andrianomearisoa’s The Labyrinth of Passions, 2015; Ram Rahman’s Untitled, The Guild, which was a celebration of New Delhi, wherein he had used many new and old photographs along with videos and text to represent the modernist architecture of the city; The Chapel by Wim Delvoye, an immaculately crafted miniature chapel modeled after 17 century Flemish edifices, this piece is a triumph of modern technology and has been created by cutting stainless steel with laser; Sakshi Gupta’s Become the wind; Paresh Maity’s, sound of silence and so on.
‘South Asia in Art: A Potent Metaphor’ was the theme for Monica Arora’s curated walk, wherein she explained in detail how artists of South Asia have shared a distinct affinity owing to a common geographic and climatic pattern prevailing over most of these countries with landscapes ranging from valleys, plains, mountains, deserts and waterbodies encompassing lakes, rivers, waterfalls, seas and even the Indian ocean offering much muse to artists. The distinct pattern of settlement and robust cultural development in the area referred to as South Asia unfortunately also tends to symbolize the unrest, violence and socio-economic under-development in the region leading to widespread poverty, unemployment and bloodied instances of bloodshed and killings rampant in the region. The artist community deemed to be the most sensitive to their surrounding stimuli, obviously reacts vociferously to the problems encountering their countries.
The walk, focused on contemporary artists of South Asia features prominent names such as Hit Man Gurung, Nepalese artist; Jagath Weerasinghe, contemporary Sri Lankan artist; Farida Batool, Ayesha Suleiman and Saba Khan from Pakistan; Syaiful Rachman from Indonesia and others from China and Bangladesh, some of whom have been actively involved in issues afflicting their respective nations and visitors explored how art can be used as a metaphor for even very serious issues. Highlight of this 8th edition of the India Art Fair is a showcase of traditional art forms and the works of art collectives from South Asian countries, thereby rendering this walk in sync with the holistic theme.
The enthusiasm witnessed amongst visitors at the art fair for the curated walks was so endearing for the ARTSOME Team, especially when the same set of people returned for the other walks one after the other on the same day.
Miles and miles of walking, endless rounds of talking, and impromptu bouts of uncontrollable laughing made it oh so memorable and fun that the four days at the fair just flew away…Of course in between the curated walks, loo breaks, animated chatter and gulps of water and coffee, there was much to observe and absorb. Yes, yes, there was the whole art display that one could just never have enough of even after endless viewings such as the gorgeous Anjolie Ela Menons or the Husains or the Razas but the gorgeous women perched precariously on magnificent stilettoes and yet managing to walk through the labyrinthine walkways of the fair, the quirky and stylish attires donned by men and women alike ranging from classic Chanels and Guccis to the homespun Anokhi and Fab India ensembles, the long queues at multi-cuisine food kiosks and the flutter of eyelashes and air-kissing by the Page Three regulars perhaps requires yet another blog. What say?