One of the biggest art gatherings Delhi has seen since the start of the pandemic, the India Art Festival is underway

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Even as the capital prepares for the most upscale India Art Fair, which is expected to take place later this month, there are signs of a return to normal in the art market. As several highly anticipated exhibitions finally open in art galleries on April 7, Delhi saw the inauguration of perhaps one of the largest art gatherings it has seen since the start of the pandemic. . The India Art Festival was inaugurated at the Constitution Club of India, Rafi Marg. “There is a lot of excitement from both exhibitors and visitors and we are happy that this is finally happening,” said India Art Festival director Rajendra Patil. With more than 80 booths, the festival which runs until April 10 showcases more than 3,500 works of art by 450 artists and has 25 art galleries among the participants.

The omicron variant has delayed this edition from January to today, but participants are excited to meet their viewers face to face. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

When the first nationwide lockdown was announced in March 2020, like many others, Patil hadn’t imagined the pandemic would last more than two years. “We thought things would normalize in a few months and we were actually preparing for the Bengaluru edition of the festival in April 2020, but it kept being pushed. Organizing such festivals requires advance planning and it has been difficult due to COVID-related uncertainties,” adds Patil. Although he resorted to the online mode to hold a virtual edition of the festival in 2021, when the number of COVID cases seemed to decrease in October, he offered to resume the physical festival. The omicron variant has delayed this edition from January to today, but participants are excited to meet their viewers face to face.

“It’s great to meet people and discuss art with them personally after two years. Art is about appearance and that’s also how people develop a better understanding,” says Siddhant Upadhye, co-founder of Gallery Pioneer.Showcasing works by masters such as FN Souza, MF Husain and SH Raza at the festival, alongside younger artists, he adds: “We see this as a platform to raise awareness of art, introducing people to the works of different artists. Many of them come back to us afterwards for purchases. Today is the first day of the festival and we have already sold some works. is therefore a positive start.”

art fair in india With more than 80 stalls, the festival which runs until April 10 features more than 3,500 works of art by 450 artists and has 25 art galleries among the participants (express photo by Abhinav Saha)

Sharing his works on a public platform for the first time, Gurugram-based artist Binu Suneja presents miniature 2-4 inch polymer clay sculptures. “I initially started these works due to space constraints, but the result was good and their uniqueness attracted a lot of attention,” says Suneja.

While the display at the festival is dominated by emerging artists, the Mumbai-based art company, Mriya Arts, presents its Tanjore collection. “Our forte is mainly a traditional art form and Tanjore is a big part of that. The Tanjores we brought to the festival are at least 60-70 years old. As we have been attending the Delhi festival for five years now, we understand the market and audience preferences here, and select the works accordingly,” says Mriya S Shah, co-director of the company. She adds: “We are waiting to see how the response will be but it feels good to be in a place like this after two years. Sales took a hit during Covid but we managed to sell through organic marketing and our usual private clientele.

art fair in india 26,000 people attended the festival in Delhi in 2019 (Express Photo by Abhinav Saha)

Patil hopes to record higher attendance than the 2019 edition, when more than 26,000 people attended the festival in Delhi. After concluding the editing in Delhi, it is preparing the Bengaluru edition from May 5 to 8, followed by that of Mumbai from May 26 to 29. given the economic impact of COVID but people seem eager to finally be able to share art. We had to refuse participants due to lack of space. We hope things will improve from here,” says Patil.

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