All is not well with India Art Fair

SELFIE TIME:Visitors at the fair.Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

SELFIE TIME:Visitors at the fair.Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The four-day high profile calendar event on the art horizon of the Capital, the India Art Fair, concluded on Sunday night. Boasting of 3,500 works, 90 booths, 85 exhibitors and 67 countries, the seventh edition of the fair saw a great deal of pluses and minuses.

While many visitors and gallerists said the space was wider and quality of art works was better, others had many complaints on several grounds. The most important being the absence of proper Wi-Fi connectivity, which made them incur “huge” loses.

Said Andrew Sahea, director of Aicon Gallery, New York, “There was no Wi-Fi throughout the fair. It left us high and dry. We could not connect with those who made inquiries, asked us to send images, emails, we could not do any transactions.” Echoed the owner of Miro Gallery, Paris, “It was an international fair with exposure to the best galleries across the globe, but commercially, we made a huge loss as the Internet did not connect at all. Now, we cannot go back to our country and do it; it will not fetch the same response. Imagine coming here with so many works and going back with huge losses only because of Wi-Fi. Isn’t it ridiculous?”

Mumbai-based gallery director Priya said, “I have come here the fourth time. We were looking for some buyers and a particular audience that we didn’t get. I could very well sell sitting in Mumbai.”

She added, “Crowd control has been a huge problem. When Arjun Rampal visited the fair, he was chased by a mob of press and people. It disrupted business. A fair needs to have the basic facilities of crowd control and security.It could have been better organised. If a fair of this repute cannot take care of my basic needs as a gallerist, it’s better I do not come back.”

Boudoin Lenon from Paris, who runs an eponymous gallery in France, said, “I have realised that Indian collectors like Indian art works, so they go for them only. It is also because there is no one to guide them towards foreign galleries. We don’t know Indian collectors by name or face. There is no one to guide them to foreign booths. So, they come, roam around bewildered.”

Logistics, including transport of art works and custom duties, have been a “constant harassment” for the exhibitors especially for those from different nations.

“The fair doesn’t take care of the logistics. Shipping the art works from abroad is an uphill task. India still does not have qualified art transporters. Moreover, we have to pay 15 per cent duties at the customs whether we sell here or not. And we cannot sell here either even if someone buys it here. We have to take it back and make the sale there. I find it strange and extremely inconvenient,” said Andrew of Aicon Gallery, New York.

The Grossvenor Gallery from London defined it as “great success” though with less international presence on the global map. “This time we played smart. We are in collaboration with Vadehra Art Gallery in Delhi. We didn’t have art transport problems, we were sorted,” a spokesperson of the gallery said.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 7:28:07 pm |