Sunday, February 02, 2014

The bazaar scene at India Art Fair 2014 in Delhi -- not exciting. The glittering visitors were

The India Art Fair 2014 (Jan 28-Feb2) in New Delhi looks tempting from outside. Once inside you are disappointed. Of course, the Fair is not meant for the person who wants to interesting works of art but who does not have the money to buy it. Then such a person should go to the museums or galleries of art. The Fair is the place where the galleries have set up shop to attract museums of art as well as the big buyers.

There are galleries which have put up works of the old masters from their collections -- the Razas and Husains. But there is no clue as to when these works produced these works, and why the works have not found their way to a collector's or connoisseur's haven. As of now the galleries have brought them to the show to fill up the space and draw the attention of the idle art-gazer.

If that is indeed the intention of the Fair, then it should have been organised a little more purposefully than it has been done. It is literally a bazaar as it stands now where stalls of art works stand in a row and there is no method in the madness. Even the person who wants to look for that new work, for that interesting work of art which has escaped attention is left a little confused. That person has to walk round and round the stalls to find something that draws attention.And he may still miss that interesting work because the Fair is a clutter of stalls.

The lack of design in the Fair is perhaps a reflection of the fact that the Indian art scene is not too vibrant and that there are not enough interesting new works of art.

There was this curiosity. A book written by art scholar Partha Mitter to a collection of Nemai Ghosh pictures of Satyajit Ray, Binode Behari Mukherjee about whom Ray made the documentary Inner Eye in 1972. Ghosh has been the visual chronicler of Ray and his work. This is a limited edition and it is priced at Rs 22,000. Artist Arpana Caur said that she bought the book because Mitter was a dear friend of hers.

The most interesting part of the Fair was the well-heeled visitors, young,smart, dresses fashionably, smiling and laughing, walking past the stalls, pausing to look at some of the works in display. Some of them may be potential buyers but many are not even when they can buy.

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