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Total India Art Immersion – Reflections from Amin Jaffer on Closing Day at India Art Fair 2013

Working on this project for almost six months, there was an element of relief when it is was all over, having exceeded all of our expectations! We formed a partnership with Neha Kirpal for this year’s India Art Fair at the end of the summer, promising to bring a group of our most passionate international collectors to Delhi, to visit the Fair and to show them some extraordinary collections and art initiatives over five days. It was a type of ‘total Indian art immersion’…and we have all loved it!

So how to sum up the things I have seen, people I have met, places I have been to since we arrived last week? Firstly and most importantly, the art, because that’s why we came. If there is a single work then I choose the arresting piece My Daughter's Cot by Tayeba Begum Lipi, a promising Bangladeshi artist who is making waves across the world. This exceptional, detailed piece of sculpture was among the first things I saw at the preview day. Owned by the Samdani Art Foundation, the non-profit Dhaka-based organisation, and part of a larger exhibition of Bangladeshi art, it is made entirely of razor blades. This piece managed to convey, with great sensitivity, an every-day tragedy – infant mortality and the dangers of child birth in Bangladesh. The juxtaposition of the object, a bassinette made to cradle and protect the newborn and the aggression and brutality of the razor blades from which it is made, was immediately arresting. Every person in the group we were with found it deeply moving, edgy and original.

Tayeba Begum Lipi
My Daughter's Cot

In addition to the works themselves, it was particularly encouraging to see so many institutions and curators among the visitors to the Fair. This is an important indication of the growing reputation of the Fair and the developing global interest in contemporary Indian art. With so many prestigious names showing and acquiring works from south Asia, we have much to look forward to – The Tate has an exhibition on Bhupen Khakhar scheduled, the Guggenheim currently has a Zarina Hashmi show and the V&A is planning a major Indian design show for 2015. The buzz created by so many visitors combined with these high-profile guests provoked one of our group of international collectors to describe the Fair as ‘the new Frieze week’; high praise indeed from someone who knows.

A dilapidated house due to be demolished would not be the most traditional venue for a Christie’s event but, together with Outset and Feroze Gujral, we hosted an edgy dinner in Jor Bagh on the evening of January 31. Feroze and I commissioned Raqs Media Collective to create a series of light installations and the juxtaposition of the peeling stucco walls, the lights and the guest list of artists and collectors created an incredibly cool and unforgettable evening.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Amin Jaffer from the Opening Day at the India Art Fair

One of the many benefits of working for Christie’s is my annual invitation to the VIP opening of the Art Fair in Delhi…a moment to catch-up with everyone in the art world . This convening moment for all of those passionate about the arts in India is something I have never missed since the first fair, 5 years ago. Those who attended in 2008 will know how far the Indian art scene has come in this time and just how many people have contributed to its continued success in India and beyond.

Opening day is always a crush with everyone jostling to find their piece of space, to see and be seen. This year, Christie’s is the auction house partner which gave me an opportunity to look around just before the crowds arrived. It gave me a brief reminder, amidst the packed agenda of the next few days, why we all come here. The India Art Fair is quite simply the finest concentration of contemporary art from India under one (tented) roof. Artists, gallery owners, collectors, curators, auction house specialists – all looking, learning, jostling, comparing notes.

At the end of this opening day and to help you navigate the crowds, lectures and events, I thought I would pause with my Christie’s colleagues to hand-pick a few highlights to guide you around if you are hoping to attend. So far we have choices from Lock Kresler, visiting from Christie’s London and Sonal Singh, specialist in Indian Contemporary Art based in Mumbai.

This year there are lectures each day - from noon until 5.30pm……I am moderating a discussion tomorrow (Saturday) on Collecting from 4.30pm so I hope to see some of you there.

Top Picks From Sonal Singh, Director and Specialist in Indian Modern and Contemporary Art for Christie’s

There was so much to choose from that I found this task – to select the one work which I loved the most – really hard. So, this is my selection for you…... It’s a sculpture by Sakshi Gupta at SKE booth.

It is from an edition of 12, reasonably priced. So why this one piece? Mainly I loved its sculptural quality but also because it is a very contemporary representation of the idol Ganesha, so a perfect trophy from this great celebration of Indian Art.

Top Picks From Lock Kresler, Christie's Director, Head of Private Sales London, Post-War and Contemporary Art

Prabhavathi Meppayil is the latest addition to the Galleryske (Bangalore) roster, which already includes well established names such as Bharti Kher and Navin Thomas. Pravhavathi's works follow in the tradition of Minimalism from a previous generation of female Indian artists including Nasreen Mohamedi.

Prabhavathi Meppayil
Copper wire embedded in gesso
16.7 x 19.8 inches

Personally, I am drawn to the subtle delineation of line developed through a process of layering and planing down the surface. The resulting effect is a ghosting to the copper striations embedded in the gesso which creates a reverberating interplay between the materials.

A Date with India Art Fair: 1,000 Artists and 24 Countries in 3 Days

The art world descends on India this week for the 5th annual India Art Fair. No stranger to Indian art, our founder James Christie offered four Indian works in in our first auction nearly 250 years ago, and Christie’s has held dedicated auctions in this category since 1995 . Our experts will be on the ground in New Delhi to view works by more than 1,000 artists from 24 countries, and will be reporting back on what they see.

With more than 100 galleries expected to participate, we’re looking forward to seeing works by several of the artists responsible for the global energy and excitement surrounding Indian art. Among the many on our radar are Subodh Gupta and his wife Bharti Kher, whose recent work with sperm-shaped Bindi have garnered attention on a global level. New York-based artist Rina Banerjee and Atul Dodiya, known for his iconographic use of yogis and Munch’s Scream juxtaposed with a pop Bombay sign, will also be on view alongside many other stars of the Indian art scene.

Can’t be in New Delhi this week? Several shows will come to the US early this year, including these three not-to-be-missed events in the weeks ahead:
  1. Atul Dodiya will lecture February 13 at the Philadelphia Museum
  2. From February 22, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York will host the exhibition ‘No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia’ featuring works by 22 artists from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. This is the inaugural exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, which after New York will be travelling to Singapore and Hong Kong. All the works featuring in the show have been acquired by the museum and will become part of its permanent collection.
  3. If you just can't wait or you can’t make it to the India Art Fair, have a sneak peak of Zarina’s works at the Guggenheim. Zarina: Paper Like Skin is the first retrospective of the Indian-born American artist who began as a printmaker.