India Art Summit's third edition promises to make art more accessible, increase awareness and develop the Indian art market.

If, among many, the India Art Summit (IAS) has earned its reputation of being India's ‘only art fair', a whole lot of people also seem to be asking, is this ‘fair' a fair game. Suneet Chopra, a well-known art critic, art writer and curator is one of those who feel that the exercise leads to further monopolisation of the art market by a few players. Those who can afford to pay for the expensive stalls (Rs.17,000 per sq metre) are a handful of top-notch galleries and left out are the lesser ones. So, what about the secondary market and what about the individual artists who get stalls in the art fairs that are held across the world, he asks.

As a young and dynamic Neha Kirpal, Director of IAS, prepares to roll out its third edition from January 20-23, 2011, she clarifies, “Every model that has been created has its own context and has to serve a purpose.” This art fair, similar to other international art fairs, is one in which galleries participate and represent artists.

“To push individual artists is the job of the government and that's where government-organised triennales become important but they haven't been happening in this country,” stresses Kirpal revealing that Fourth Dimension, an experiential marketing company which produces the IAS, is now in any case ready with a parallel platform to cater to the lower end of the market. “We will roll it out next year but it will be a separate entity, held at a different time,” she states.

There are 84 galleries participating in this year, chosen by the IAS Selection committee out of 200 entries, on a set criteria. Features like the participation of 570 artists, open to public, entry ticket of Rs.200 and the venue of Pragati Maidan itself, according to Kirpal, make the IAS a democratic enough affair. The IAS is expecting visitors in excess of 60,000.

International component

The international participation has doubled from last year owing to the participation of 20 galleries from France, Germany, Britain, the U.S., Spain, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore etc., speakers from 13 international museums — like Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator of the Tate Modern, London, and James Cuno, President, Art Institute, Chicago, which is the second largest art museum in the U.S. — and international art magazines and journals.

While last year, buyers, collectors and visitors had to console themselves by seeing Anish Kapoor's two stainless steel discs, this year the celebrated sculptor will be present himself as one of the speakers. There is a lot of excitement around the participation of yet another British artist, Dan Graham. Represented by Lisson Gallery, Graham will be in conversation with Hou Hanru, Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, San Francisco Art Institute. Around nine discussions will probe topics like philanthropy in the arts, building of art infrastructure, etc.

Kirpal is however excited about the increased presence of art from the region. Art galleries like Carbon 12, 1 X 1 and The Jam Jar from Dubai, Grey Noise from Pakistan and other galleries from Sri Lanka and Iran will allow a peek at contemporary art in these countries. A collaborative project between, The Jam Jar and Grey Noise is among the eight live art projects that will take place at the site with a view to engage the visitors.

Being the only art fair of the country, Kirpal says, it provides the world single window access to Indian art. Having fit it into the global art calendar, the world class event, she feels, will bring more collectors from India and abroad. For Kirpal, IAS works in three key areas like pushing cultural tourism, opening up the market and playing an educative role. Around 3000 collectors from India and the world are expected to be in attendance at the event.

Collateral events will take place not just in Delhi (there are about 23 galleries from the Capital in the fair) — but various other cities from where galleries are featured in the three-day extravaganza. “The gallery which is participating in IAF will also host separate shows or events in their own space in their respective cities. The visitors will visit different cities, get a flavour of art there. They will be taken to artists' studios, museums as well,” says Kirpal. Curated walks by industrialist and collector Rajshree Pathy for collectors, business conglomerations like CII and FICCI delegates are also on the anvil. As opposed to last year, when Chittrovanu Mazumdar was the lone artist to have a solo show in the entire Summit, (participating gallery was 1X1), this time round, a whole section dedicated to solo exhibitions by 11 galleries has been designed. Eight book launches, museums having promotional space, art college students working at the fair, art store are other highlights of the Summit.