Founded in 2008 with the vision to promote modern and contemporary Indian art, India Art Fair (IAF) is one of South Asia’s biggest internationally known art fairs and platforms, uplifting the region’s cultural landscape. Marking its post-COVID return to a physical format after a two-year hiatus, India Art Fair 2022 is on till 1 May, at NSIC Exhibition Grounds in New Delhi, India.
Featuring an impressive roster of galleries and artists, private foundations and museums, artists’ collectives and institutions, cultural events and festivals, the annual art fair is being held under the new leadership of Fair Director Jaya Asokan. Started with an aim to place the thriving Indian art scene on the global map, the IAF organises extensive art programmes both online and offline, including educational initiatives, artist commissions, pop-up programmes and exhibitions running all year round.
From New York’s Aicon Contemporary to Kerala’s non-profit institution, Kochi Biennale Foundation, the India Art Fair 2022 is all set to exhibit the works of distinctive art galleries from India and abroad.
Here are some of the art galleries and artists you must not miss at the India Art Fair 2022
Aicon Contemporary, New York
Located in New York, United States, the renowned contemporary art gallery started with a vision to bridge the gap between the east and the west. Specialising in non-Western art with a focus on artists from South Asia, the Middle East and diasporic artists, Aicon Contemporary is a subsidiary of the 20 year-old Aicon Gallery.
The gallery has been working on the critical task of placing talented South Asian artists on the global map through exhibitions, art fairs and outreach programmes for years. Aicon Contemporary represents prominent artists such as Adeela Suleman, Abdullah Syed and Promotesh Das Pulak, who incorporate cutting-edge, socially-relevant and challenging art practices in their thought-provoking works.
The gallery has placed its artists’ works in important venues such as the British Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Peabody Essex, the Art Institute of Chicago, along with art fairs like Art Dubai, India Art Fair and Armory Show and so on. Aicon has also showcased the work of established artists such as M F Hussain, F N Souza and S H Raza in several solo shows.
Artists from Aicon Contemporary to look out for at the IAF 2022
Abdullah M I Syed: Born in 1974, in Karachi, Pakistan, Syed’s artwork expresses the social landscape and complex political issues, using a variety of mediums and techniques. The methods include print screening and art created with dollar bills and razorblades. Syed’s artworks represent his take on sensitive topics such as the War on Terror, immigration and Western attitudes towards the East. He currently lives and works out of Karachi, New York and Sydney.
Najmun Nahar Keya: Born in 1980, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Najmun Nahar Keya’s artwork explores the relationship between human behaviour and society, her own personal memories of her hometown, Dhaka and the experiences she had as an immigrant living in Japan. Keya is armed with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Fine Arts (MFA) from the University of Bangladesh.
She also spent five years learning and working in Tokyo, Japan on a prestigious Japanese government scholarship, titled Monbukagakusho, which is awarded to one emerging Bangladeshi artist annually. Keya has earned several awards and accolades throughout her art career and continues to grow exponentially. She is currently an artist fellow at Harvard University’s Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute.
Debanjan Roy: Born in 1975 in Kolkata, India, Roy’s artwork interrogates India’s history and trajectory as a developing nation and its relationship with changing times and the advent of technology. To do this, he produced a series of works which reimagine the world-renowned political leader Mahatma Gandhi, as a signifier of Indian history, in a completely modern setting.
In his shiny red figures, Gandhi is seen whimsically interacting with modern devices such as an iPhone and other contemporary pop culture staples. This is to highlight the cognitive dissonance experienced by people who grew up in a pre-internet era and also the rise of the Indian middle class.
Vida Heydari Contemporary (VHC), Pune
Founded by Iranian-Canadian Vida Heydari, a highly experienced curator and gallerist, Vida Heydari Contemporary is an art gallery in Pune, India which showcases the works of Indian and international artists. With over 14 years of experience in the art world, Heydari has collaborated with distinguished Indian, Iranian and Chinese contemporary artists over the span of her prolific career.
Leveraging her expertise, she has also consulted for various private and public collections. Established in 2020, VHC honours the art community and elevates the social and cultural fabric of Pune city. The gallery achieves this by working with artists, promoting their work, nurturing their talents and connecting them with people interested in art.
Artists from VHC to look out for
Vaishali Oak: Known for her unique art style and chromatic musings that she creates using the local quilting method called ‘Godhadi’, Vaishali Oak is a well-known fibre artist from Pune, India. She takes inspiration from traditional sewing practices and explores the relationship between nature, forms, fabric and the craft of stitching. With bold strokes, textures and exuberant hues, her works have been showcased in international exhibitions including World Textile Art exhibition in Spain (2019), World Art Dubai (2019), Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai (2018) and SW1 Art Gallery, London (2007).
Bita Fayyazi: Born in 1962 in Tehran, Iran, Bita Fayyazi is an award-winning Iranian artist who has been exhibiting her artworks since the 1990s. Her work has been showcased at prestigious art galleries such the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts. A pioneer in the field of Iranian public art projects, Fayyazi is known for her theatrical, large-scale work. Her artwork is acquired by high-profile collectors globally, including Dior Fashion House.
Farbod Elkaei: Born in 1992, Elkaei is another Iranian artist, who is being featured at the VHC booth at the India Art Fair 2022. He creates socially-themed art projects based on his personal contemporary communal experiences. The artist examines the connection between natural landscapes, colours and geometry by juxtaposing abstract mountain ranges against colourful and geometric natural sceneries, rendered in acrylic paints.
Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi
Founded in 2001 by Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, Palette Art Gallery features meticulously curated works of emerging contemporary and modern artists, along with an exhibition programme dedicated to pre and post-independence Indian masters. Located in a posh neighbourhood in New Delhi, the gallery represents artists who produce works, rendered in a variety of media including oils, watercolours, video, photography and performance art.
Artists from Palette Art Gallery to look out for
Apurba Nandi: Born in 1973 in Vadodara, Gujarat, Apurba Nandi holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Fine Arts (Sculpture) from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. His artworks have been included in many different shows and art galleries across India, including All India Art Competition, Karnataka, Gujarat Lalit Kala Academy, Ahmedabad and at the 47th National Exhibition of Lalit Kala Academy at Sarjan Art Gallery, Baroda throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Palette Art Gallery has showcased his paintings which portray contemporary observations of people navigating through the city of Mumbai.
The description of the collection reads: “Painted as a voyage of a mysterious collective of faceless masses, heading towards uncertain destinations. Multitude becomes the important protagonist of the artist’s new body of works. We witness the flow of innumerable human bodies on the canvas, concealing the markers of caste and religion, refusing to be categorised into any social and religious strata.”
Jignesh Panchal: Panchal is a contemporary artist with a degree in painting from the Sheth C N College of Fine Arts in Ahmedabad. His layered modernist miniatures are rendered in mixed media and draw inspiration from his rich and complex cultural, linguistic and architectural vernacular. Panchal’s creations are an amalgamation of Indian traditions and European styles, thereby depicting the shared cultural histories.
The intricate motifs and patterns are encased in gold leaf to produce a magnificent interplay of light and reflections. The artist’s work has been exhibited at national and international galleries including Gallery Struempfe in Mannheim and Bei Trickles in Berlin, Bajaj Capital Art House in New Delhi and the Le Corbusier building in Ahmedabad. It has also been showcased by Zone of Contemporary Art (ZOCA) at the India Art Fair in New Delhi every year since 2018.
Sonal Varshneya: Born in 1985 in Agra, India, Varshneya has ten years of work experience as an independent artist. The artist holds a Masters in Visual Arts (MVA) in printmaking from Agra University and uses the medium of etching in graphics (intaglio). Sonal has won awards at the 1st International Print Biennial, Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi India (2018) and International Biennial Print Exhibition, Taiwan (2012). The artist’s works have been featured widely in group and solo shows in India and abroad.
Grosvenor Gallery, London
Grosvenor was established in 1960 as a platform for Indian and Pakistani modernist artists. Located in the lively central London, the gallery features well-known artists such as the late F N Souza, often referred to as the ‘Indian Picasso’, as well as the legendary M F Husain, S H Raza and Syed Sadequain. The gallery also operates as an incubator for young, contemporary artists by running a programme for exhibiting young artists from South Asia, along with established names, such as Rasheed Araeen. Grosvenor Gallery has done various collaborations and partnered with curators and museums locally and internationally.
This year the gallery is exhibiting new paintings by Olivia Fraser and new works by celebrated artists like Krishen Khanna and Senaka Senanayake at the IAF 2022. The exhibition will also include works by famous modernist Indian artists like Husain, Raza, Souza and Lancelot Ribeiro, among others.
Artists from Grosvenor Gallery to look out for
Olivia Fraser: With her works being exhibited in public and private collections all over the world including India, Australia, Singapore, UK, Belgium and USA, Olivia Fraser is a London-born artist who moved to India in 1989.
Influenced by the ethos of Rajasthani tradition, Fraser’s works highlight ancient Indian miniature painting techniques, which she studied under the guidance of art masters from Jaipur and Delhi in India. She draws inspiration from her kinsman, James Baillie Fraser, who painted Indian architecture during the East India Company Raj in the 1800s. Olivia uses the north Indian miniature painting style for highlighting subjects from the folk cultures and streets of India.
Her artworks are a beautiful blend of gem-like stone colours, unique miniature brush work and ornate, burnished surfaces.
Krishnen Khanna: Born in Faisalabad in Pakistan, Krishen Khanna spent his childhood in Lahore. Mostly a self-taught artist, Khanna delved into the art world after his graduation and started attending evening classes held at the Mayo School of Art in Lahore. Displaced due to the chaotic political episode of the India-Pakistan partition in 1947, the artist was forced to move to Shimla, India. His early works are thus heavily derived from the scenes that were ingrained in his memory during this period.
Khanna’s works represent moments in history in a figurative style. He is a recipient of some of the country’s highest government-bestowed honours including the Lalit Kala Ratna from the President of India in 2004, the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011.
Senaka Senanyake: With a degree in art and architecture from Yale University, USA, Senanyake is one of the most established and well-known artists in Sri Lanka. The artist received recognition as a child prodigy when his work was first exhibited in Colombo in the late 1950s. His creations were also exhibited in a solo show in New York at a young age of 10 years. Senanyake continued his upwards trajectory and held exhibitions throughout his teenage years not just in Sri Lanka, but in Europe, US and Asia as well.
His iridescent artworks are inspired by the lush green Sri Lankan landscape, tropical and colourful flowers, attractive birds and insects.
Art Musings, Mumbai
Established in 1999, Art Musings was one of the first art galleries to open in South Bombay’s art district. The gallery represents an impressive roster of diversified artists and also conducts a coveted interdisciplinary art programme.
The trailblazing gallery has housed legendary Indian modern artists including M F Hussain, S H Raza, KG Subramanyan, Ram Kumar, Satish Gujral and Akbar Padamsee over the years. From Anjolie Ela Menon, Baiju Parthan and Jayasri Burman, the gallery has nurtured a distinctive roster of creatives. Younger generations of artists such as Smriti Dixit, Shilo Shiv Suleman and Raghava KK are also a part of Art Musings’ curations.
Artists from Art Musings to look out for
Maya Burman: Born in 1971 and trained as an architect at the École Nationale d’Architecture Paris-Villemin and the École Nationale d’Architecture Paris-Belleville in the 1990s, Maya Burman is a watercolour and ink-pen French artist, who creates cross-cultural artworks. Burman was inspired during the gap year she spent at the Centre for Built Environment, Kolkata, working on a survey of the historic North Kolkata residential quarter, associated with the Bengal Renaissance. Exuding dreamy mythology and metaphors, her works include details of Indian miniature painting and European Middle Age architecture merged together. Burman’s works showcase floating human figures, frequently depicted in joyous moments of play, festivity or ceremony.
Shilo Shiv Suleman: Exploring topics such as poetry, technology and social justice, Shilo Shiv Suleman is a highly-acclaimed artist who combines self-portraiture with the iconography of goddesses. The 1989-born artist uses tropical and lush imagery as a signifier for fertility and sensuous female beauty and forms. Suleman has strived to empower marginalised communities like the indigenous communities in Brazil, displaced and migrant communities in Beirut, queer activists in South Africa and transgender activists in Pakistan by leading various public art interventions over the years.
She is the recipient of several residencies and grants, including two honorary grants from the internationally known art event, Burning Man for her interactive art installations. These installations, produced in collaboration with architects, entrepreneurs, builders and neurotechnologists, garnered global media coverage.
Paresh Maity: Born in 1965, the Padma Shri recipient and renowned artist Paresh Maity has over 80 solo exhibitions, held across the world, to his name. He gained expertise in art mediums such as painting, video and sculpture. Featuring vibrant colours and diverse iconic landscapes such as the sand dunes of Rajasthan, the backwaters of Kerala or the canals of Venice, Maity’s artworks have been acquired by major institutions around the world. These include the British Museum, London, the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi and the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata.
One of his most distinctive public commissions is a monumental painting at Terminal 3, Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
Aravani Art Project and Saffronart Foundation, Bengaluru
A purpose-driven Bengaluru-based foundation included in the Indian Art Fair 2022, is the Aravani Art Project, supported by Saffronart Foundation. The foundation strives to combat the stigma associated with the transgender and LGBTQIA+ communities through their massive public wall murals, awareness campaigns and social participation drives.
The project was founded with a vision to create a safe space for open dialogue, raising awareness and advocating for the queer community through art. Aravani Art Project supports the transgender community by providing them with an alternative source of income through freelance art and design projects like these.
Visitors can catch the Aravani Art Project’s wall mural along the public walkway leading them to the IAF 2022.
The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Noida/New Delhi
Opened in 2010, this art gallery is the very first private museum devoted to showcasing modern and contemporary art from India and South Asia. KNMA has served as a pioneer in furthering and epitomising Indian art and culture with the help of its exhibitions, publications and educational and public programmes. Boasting a roster of celebrated 20th century Indian artists hailing from the pre-independence and modernist generations, the institution never fails to impress with their collections, collaborations and art programmes.
KNMA also features artworks produced by emerging younger contemporaries and provides them with a platform and access to relevant audiences.
Kochi Biennale Foundation, Kochi
Founded in 2010 by artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, Kochi Biennale Foundation is a non-profit charitable trust dedicated to advancing art, culture and educational activities in India. The foundation hosts one of the largest art exhibitions and festivals in South Asia called the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in an effort to highlight and uplift traditional Indian art forms and cultural heritage. It also works towards the conservation of heritage properties and historical monuments across the country.
Hero and featured image: Courtesy of India Art Fair