India Art Fair 2022: A glimpse of the country’s biggest art event

With a robust lineup of 77 exhibitors, digital VIP passes, two preview days, and a 365-day presence, India Art Fair 2022 is going to be bigger and better than ever!
India art fair 2022 is ready to celebrate the country's art scene next week!
India Art Fair 2022 is ready to celebrate the country’s art scene next week! Image: Courtesy India Art Fair.

Scheduled to take the centerstage in the country’s art scene from April 28 to May 1 at NSIC Exhibition Ground in New Delhi’s Okhla, India Art Fair will be presenting a lineup of 77 exhibitors from 17 cities, including an unprecedented 14 non-profit foundations and institutions. Continuing the fair’s enduring relationship with the region’s pioneering institutions, the forthcoming edition will see participation from Kochi Biennale Foundation, Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation and Serendipity Arts, among others.

Helmed by Jaya Asokan, the brand new director, for the first time since her appointment last year, this edition of India Art Fair is a testament to the resilience of the Indian and South Asian art market and the art community at large. The upcoming art event spotlights the next generation of artists alongside modern masters through initiatives including auditorium talks, performances, outdoor art projects, artist-led workshops, and an online symposium in the run up to the fair.

We chat up with Asokan ahead of the big preview to know all about India Art Fair 2022!

In chat with fair director, jaya asokan.
In chat with fair director, Jaya Asokan. Image: Courtesy India Art Fair.

Tell us a little about the theme of this year’s edition.

The focus of India Art Fair 2022 is to celebrate the immense talent of artists from India and South Asia. We pride ourselves on the unique niche we have created for ourselves as the only commercial art fair in South Asia, and always look to make use of this great opportunity to bring Indian and South Asian art and artists to mainstream attention in India and globally.

In our exhibition halls this time, we will not only have familiar household modernist names but also lesser-known modernists and contemporary artists like Riten Mozumdar (Chatterjee & Lal), B Prabha (Chawla Art Gallery) and Shanti Dave (DAG), and trailblazing names like Isha Pimpalkhare (Tao Art Gallery), Tom Vattakuzhy (Art Centrix Space), Haroun Hayward (Galerie Isa), Yogesh Ramkrishna (Latitude 28), Sebastian Cortés (Apparao Galleries), Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran (Jhaveri Contemporary), Amrit Pal Singh (Terrain art), being presented by 63 galleries and 14 institutions from 17 Indian and international cities.

India art fair
The fair’s exhibition halls are giving space to both famous names as well as lesser-known modernists and contemporary artists. Image: India Art Fair.

What are the major highlights to look forward to this year?

We will have large outdoor projects dotting the fair grounds including a 50-feet long mural imagining binary-free world by trans-artist collective Aravani Art Collective and a large metal sculpture by Narayan Sinha presented by Arts Ananda Trust among other projects by Indian arts institutions like Serendipity Arts and Kochi Biennale Foundation. Our massive fair façade is a piece of art itself, in fact the biggest one on display at the fair and in New Delhi, created by young artist Anshuka Mahapatra, bursting with phrases in the colours of the summer and phrases taken from seven Indian languages.

In our auditorium, we will be holding a packed schedule of talks by the biggest names including leading patron, Kiran Nadar, beloved Indian magnum photographer, Raghu Rai and contemporary Indian artist Atul Dodiya presenting the prestigious BMW Art Talk, among conversations by the institutions, collectives and artists changing the way art is produced, circulated and collected in India today. Besides, there will be workshops curated by Kriti Sood of LAND and led by artists to bring art into people’s hands and personal lives, an Inclusion Lab with workshops open to all regardless of ability with braille guides and tactile works and curated art walks for anyone looking for a guided walkthrough of the massive India Art Fair.

The fair is coming back with an interesting lineup of 77 exhibitors from 17 indian and international countries!
The fair is coming back with an interesting lineup of 77 exhibitors from 17 Indian and international countries! Image: Courtesy India Art Fair.

How are you integrating more modern tools such as social media and interactive a/v or VR, etc this time?

Art and technology have a long standing connection, and at the fair we are very interested in taking the conversation and exploring the intersection. To explore this fully, we have developed a brand new space called The Studio at the fair this year, dedicated to making bridges across art and technology in new and experimental ways. Bringing a spirit of playfulness to the fair, the wide range of projects in The Studio include games from the artist duo Thukral and Tagra; interactive bots from an Indian techart platform BeFantastic supported by Tezos India; a showcase by the winners of Serendipity Art Foundation’s Virtual Art grants; a presentation by the newly opened Museum of Art and Photography on their ‘digital museum’ and collections; a viewer-centric installation on pollution in cities by Khoj International Artists’ Association; an AR project by artist Muzzumil Ruheel.

We will also be launching a metaverse version of the fair with XR Central that will open access to the highlights of the fair to anyone interested, no matter where in the world they are. As we proceed further into the digital age, it is imperative that we explore new dimensions of art and the fair, and make space for open and transparent conversations about topics like NFTs, digital art, and more.

The focus is on targeting art enthusiasts from different india cities, due to travel restrictions.
The focus is on targeting art enthusiasts from different India cities, due to travel restrictions. Image: Courtesy India Art Fair.

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Tell us a little about the profile of tourists you are targeting.

Our audience base is wide and varied. We see visitors across the board from artists, art and culture lovers, to young collectors, and leading patrons from India and around the world. This year, due to travel restrictions, our outreach is even more focussed on the region and targeting a large number of curious and interested visitors from various Indian cities.

How are you spreading the word to reach the right audience?

As part of our refreshed strategy as a fair, we have upped our digital presence with a brand new website, an editorial telling inspiring stories of art and artists, and an active social media presence with a fun and friendly tone of voice. This way, we are continuing to reach more and more people from all over the country, bringing Indian art and culture to audiences everywhere, many of whom we will welcome to the fair this year.

We’re keen to go above and beyond just the four-day event and engage with audiences 365 days of the year through virtual programmes like workshops and walkthroughs as well as in-person collector evenings and weekends around the country. Along with working with BMW India, who are our Presenting Partner for the sixth year in a row, we have also expanded our partnerships to include creative brands across the field from The Leela Palace, Air Vistara, collectible design partner Aequo, streaming platforms like MUBI, Etsy, Art India, and many more through whom we are growing our audiences.

Stringent safety protocols in place as india art fair gears up to welcomes guests.
Stringent safety protocols in place as India Art Fair gears up to welcomes guests. Image: India Art Fair.

Have you seen an increased interest?

Yes, there has been great excitement with in-person arts and culture events gradually opening up. There is no greater joy than experiencing art in the flesh and together, and the response since the announcement of the 2022 edition of the fair has been incredible. Galleries, institutions and artists are all eager to come out and showcase their talent and celebrate their achievements over the past year — and we could not be more excited to welcome them all. All this, of course, while maintaining the highest level of health and safety protocols.

Talking of safety protocols, what are the measures in place since COVID cases are rising again in Delhi-NCR,? 

Our COVID protocols are very strict. Our aim is to ensure that India Art Fair is as safe and inclusive as possible. The fair is going above and beyond government-mandated protocols, and will have strict measures in place to ensure a safe running, including mandatorily requiring proof of final vaccination from all visitors who are 18 year of age and over, enforcing mandatory face masks at the fair, and implementing stringent cleaning measures and sanitising stations throughout the fair. We are also limiting the daily visitor capacity and footfall at the fair venue, by hosting two preview days for the first time instead of only one. All VIP invitations and ticketing will be made completely touchless and digital.

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