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India Art Fair: a mixed bag for international galleries

Hall No 2 at the India Art Fair is a picture of contrasts. This is where most of the international art galleries have set up their booths — while some are teeming with visitors and buyers, there are others that are conspicuous with their lack of visitors.

As soon as one enters, one comes across the booth of Contempop Expressions Galleries from Tel Aviv Israel, which is attracting a fair share of crowd. 

“Our central theme is people — how people live, how people cope with life and conflict,” says the gallery representative, who has brought works by artists llike Ruth Bloch, Gadi Dagon and Tolia Inbar to the fair. 

A painting by Anita Arbidane

A painting by Anita Arbidane

A little ahead, a striking bronze work in bronze, Krishna With Gopis, by K Laxma Goud catches the eyes. This is being exhibited at the booth of Art 18/21 which has offices in Norwich, UK as well as in Jaipur, India. Another work at the booth that immediately attracts attention is a tapestry in wool and tussar by M F Husain. Sharing space with this Husain piece is a lovely acrylic on paper by Ram Kumar and works by Manjit Bawa, Manu Parekh, S H Raza, Sohan Qadri, Alec Cumming and more. 

The international galleries, to cater to an Indian crowd, have got a mix of foreign and Indian artists. For instance, Art Gallery 21 from Riga, Latvia, is showing Anita Arbidane from the country as well as Krishna Murari and Mandakini Devi from India. 

“The first time that we came to the fair, we were amazed at the good work that so many Indian artists were doing here. So we decided to start working with them,” says gallerist Liva Veiherte-Grinberga, who says that the demand for Indian art in Latvia is small, but is likely to grow in some time. 

At the booth of Grosvernor Gallery from UK, it is hard to negotiate for space as the place is buzzing with visitors. The cynosure of all eyes is Game 1 by Krishen Khanna and the new Kundalini series by British artist Olivia Fraser who resides in Delhi. 

“The Krishen Khanna painting is very famous and the original is in the Holocaust Museum in Israel. This is a version of it that has come from a Japanese collection,” says a gallery representative. Fraser, who is known for her Krishna series, inspired by her exposure to pichhwai painting, is getting a lot of positive feedback for her new series. “It starts out with the idea of a 1000-petal lotus. Inspired by traditional iconography,” says Fraser. Then there is an interesting project by Asia Art Archive, from India and Hong Kong, with Shilpa Gupta which explores friendships and associations through documents about art institutions, artist-organised camps and addas. 

At the booth of Imaginart Gallery from Spain, where works by Le Corbusier are surrounded by more contemporary pieces by artists like Miguel Angel Iglesias, the response has been a bit lukewarm. “There is a lot of interest in Iglesias’ work, but the momentum hasn’t picked up yet,” says the gallery representative.  

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