India Art Fair 2024 Reveals India’s Greatest Power
Commenting on the recent India Art Fair, @JerryGogosian, the alter ego of gallerist Hilde Lynn Helphenstein, remarked: 'The fusion of traditional and modern influences indicates to me that India's soft power, art, will be its greatest power.'
Thukral and Tagra, India Art Fair Facade 2024. Courtesy India Art Fair.
Helphenstein was among VIP guests at this year's India Art Fair (1–4 February) in New Delhi, which saw its largest edition yet, boasting 109 exhibitors. The increase in size was due to the debut of a new design section, strategically placed near the VIP entrance.
It's a clever cross-disciplinary innovation that expanded India Art Fair's offerings to collectors. Seven design studios partook, including Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Ashiesh Shah, de Gournay, and Karishma Swali & Chanakya School of Craft.
Reflecting on the section's success, fair director Jaya Asokan said, 'Design is a personal passion of mine, and it has been heartening to see great support from the creative community from the region and beyond in our efforts to expand the horizons of the fair.'
Loïc Le Gaillard, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, confirmed they would be returning: 'We recognise the fair's significant position in the Indian art world and the contribution it has made to building a diverse contemporary landscape in India.' The gallery presented a Karl Lagerfeld fountain worth U.S. $162,000, among other works.
Both Indian and international galleries reported robust sales and high foot traffic across the four days. Many Mumbai and New Delhi-based galleries noted the emergence of new collectors, particularly those showing a keen interest in the art world's rising stars.
Experimenter, the stalwart gallery in Kolkata and Mumbai, whose founders were yet again identified in ArtReview Power 100, had one of the busiest booths at the fair. Commemorating 15 years of both India Art Fair and Experimenter, they presented 15 new commissions by 15 artists, including Ayesha Sultana, Biraaj Dodiya, and Prabhakar Pachpute.
Monika Correa's monochrome triptych stood out amid Jhaveri Contemporary's display of eight artists. Banyan Tree (2023) comprises liberated sections of black thread mirroring the dangling prop roots of a banyan tree. Correa will also participate in Adriano Pedrosa's Foreigners Everywhere at the 2024 Venice Biennale (20 April–24 November 2024).
Nature Morte sold 85 percent of its stand at the VIP preview, with works ranging from U.S. $2,000 to $100,000. Their booth showcased 22 artists, among them Ayesha Singh, Alicja Kwade, and the artist duo Thukral and Tagra, responsible for this year's IAF façade.
Vadehra Art Gallery displayed a rare, large-scale painting by modernist Tyeb Mehta from 1999 on public view for the first time in over two decades. Falling Bird depicts an abstracted form frozen in a downward plunge against a tranquil blue backdrop. The booth also featured other significant post-modern and contemporary works by Anju Dodiya, Rameshwar Broota, Shilpa Gupta, and more.
Galleria Continua reported positive sales, presenting works by Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Eva Jospin, and others, ranging from U.S. $820,000 to $1,011,000. Several Ai Weiwei works sold for approximately U.S. $323,000, while a Nari Ward piece fetched around U.S. $400,000, and Eva Jospin works went for prices ranging from U.S. $59,200 to $91,500.
London-based gallery Indigo+Madder infused fresh energy into the fair. Spotlighting emerging artists, cultural hybridity, and the South Asian diaspora, the gallery featured works by Amba Sayal-Bennett, Anousha Payne, Mannat Gandotra, and others. Prices ranged from U.S. $900 to $9,000.
This edition also introduced an art prize in partnership with Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation. At U.S. $100,000, it is South Asia's largest and first award of its kind. The prize aims to nurture one Indian artist each year through a commissioned art project, to be unveiled at each subsequent edition of the fair, further reinforcing the country's 'soft power': its art. —[O]