In about half a decade, India Art Fair (IAF), which till a couple of years ago was known as India Art Summit, has developed as India’s most prominent and popular art fair. The annual fair organised in the capital has emerged as the choicest haunt for galleries, collectors and art lovers. The fifth edition of the IAF has seen over 100 participating exhibitors from 23 countries, showcasing around 3,500 works by 1,000-plus established and emerging artists from across the globe. But in its short journey, has the IAF been able to break into the club of the most sought-after art fairs globally? Does it command the exhibitor, artist and collector interest as much as a more established fair, say the Frieze Art Fair of London, or Art Basel, or Asia’s major art fairs like Hong Kong International Art Fair, better known as Art HK, or even Art Stage Singapore?
While it’s a little too soon to even start judging the worth of the IAF, say most galleries, it’s the potential of the fair and, of course, of the massive art market India can develop into, that is generating and driving their interest.
As far as the organisers are concerned, IAF has swelled over the years in terms of quantity as well as quality, with every edition attracting better response and interest than the preceding edition. “Our focus is more on building the market. We are today among the top 10 art fairs in the world. There is tremendous growth and level of participation. We have grown 300%. The participation of galleries, collectors and artists has increased phenomenally,” says Neha Kirpal, founder and director, India Art Fair. Kirpal adds that when compared to other fairs, IAF’s objective is a little different since India can at best be described as a nascent emerging art market, unlike some other more developed art geographies globally. “I think it’s a very different initiative. India is a very small player. But that’s because there has been very little international exposure to Indian art. We are working towards promoting that art. Usually, there is a lot of cultural diplomacy through the government. They organise a lot of initiatives. Like China, for instance. In India, it is limited. Initiatives like the India Art Fair help the Indian art scene. The more non-Indians buy Indian art, the better it is, the more footing we will find,” she says.
When we spoke to