Art News & Views

India Art Festival A Preview


by  Sarmistha Maiti

India Art Festival, India's Contemporary Art Fair is coming up with a new look this year in the month of November at Nehru Centre, Mumbai from 17th to 20th. The Art Festival is being organised with a noble objective of democratising art at the pan Indian level and also on the positive note to generate a dialogue between artists, galleries, art lovers, art collectors, connoisseurs and also create a new bunch of investors in art from among business entrepreneurs, business executives and anybody who loves art and is ready to invest, thereby expanding the circumference of art patronage.

The primary organiser of this festival a committee formed and directed by senior artists, art historians, art critics and art lovers who are known for their dedication for the promotion of fine arts and an NGO “Kalavishkar” will also help out at every level to leap this festival to the best. Dr. Saryu Doshi is the President and Mrs. Prafulla Dahanukar is the Chairperson of the India Art Festival. There is again a noble claim from the organizers that this festival is a non-commercial and non-profitable festival as far as the organizing committee is concerned. The organizers are only charging a rent for the stall from the participating artists and the galleries and anything that is sold out from the festival venue has no profit margin or commission that would go to the organizers directly or indirectly. Well, this is exactly what Rajendra, the Secretary of India art Festival, also the Editor of Indian Contemporary Art Journal cited in the interactive session “Art Market for the Artists Expanding Horizons” held at Kolkata at the Aakriti Art Gallery on 13th April 2011. This was in fact for the promotion of the festival and to bring in art circuit of different cities on the common front to make them aware of the festival and what it is all about. The same interactive session was also held at New Delhi at Lokayat on 15th April, Jehangir art Gallery, Mumbai on 19th April and Gallery Sumukha on 23rd April.

In Kolkata the speakers were Nanak Ganguly, art critic and curator, Chhatrapati Dutta, artist and Rajendra himself. As Nanak gave the philosophy and his role as a curator of the festival more on the note of the broader ideation, Rajendra spoke in terms of clear code of conduct and the procedure on which the festival will be held. At the same time Rajendra also spoke on the aspect of democratization of art and how this art festival in fact would differ from the India art Summit that's being held at New Delhi for the last three years. In this festival individual artists and independent art groups will also be allowed to participate and the second floor of the Nehru Museum will completely be dedicated for this purpose which is unlike of the India Art Summit where only galleries are allowed to represent their pocket artists. A separate rate has been fixed for them for booking their own stalls in this festival.

The ground floor of the Nehru Museum will be completely given to the galleries who will represent their own artists. In case of independent artists or art groups, the selection committee will finally take the decision whether a space will be allotted to them or not and the same body will select the galleries as well but the galleries will have their own discretion to represent their artists where the committee will not intervene. But on this fair note of Rajendra about the Indian Art Festival, a roll of questions sprung from the audience regarding this entire philosophy of democratizing art. Secondly can any festival be non-commercial when so much financial deals, networking and transactions will take place?

Well a diplomatic answer was finally coined by Chhatrapati Dutta, who apart from all flowery philosophies associated with the festival said that the India Art Festival is nothing but another form or an expansion/extension of any other art festival, summits that are held in the country. And I would say it's true that the organizers must be applauded for the fact that at least they are taking a serious attempt to bring in artists from all over India on the same platform at a time if not on equal ground or designation. No democracy has ever been fully democratic and may be it cannot be so… In spite of every critical aspect, the entire idea of this festival is ready to spread its arms in the autumnal break of the year, the best season at the financial capital of India. So all fingers crossed from now!


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