By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, (IANS) A new platform will open to 520 emerging artists from across the country to exhibit and sell their art directly to buyers without the involvement of galleries at the United Art Fair in Pragati Maidan Sept 27-30.
The fair will exhibit 2,000 new works of art including paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, graphic art, photography and large-scale outdoor sculptures accompanied by art education sessions.
Artists can enter their work free of cost, the organisers said.
Anurag Sharma, founder and director of United Art Fair, said the fair, “which will primarily offer emerging artists a platform to sell their work, will also host 60 established artists in a section, ‘Mind the Gap Now’”.
This section will offset new works with older ones in an attempt to “boost the morale of the young artists”, Sharma said.
A “Sculpture Park” devoted to 14 large-scale sculptures will exhibit among many contemporary classics K.S. Radhakrishnan’s new monumental work, “Time, Tide and Growth” and Subodh Kerkar’s “Bread Route”. The section on photography will feature artists like Sunil Gupta, Pablo Bartholomew and Deepak John Mathew.
The second day of the fair will be the dissenters’ day where anyone “who has diverging opinion about the workings of the mainstream art market can criticise the system”.
“At some stage we had thought about galleries but then decided against it. There is no involvement of galleries. We realised that artists must be given an opportunity to present their own works and interact with buyers. We will charge 35 percent as commission from the sale of works by individual artists – which the artists are more than happy to pay,” Sharma told IANS.
Sharma and the project director of the fair, critic Johnny ML, travelled to 15 cities, met 3,800 artists personally and checked out their art during a preliminary reconnaissance.
“The selection committee then shortlisted 520 artists from 1,850 entries for the emerging artists’ section on the basis of the quality of their work,” Sharma said. The fair took into account “the rock-bottom market scenario which was denying emerging artists toe-holds”.
“The year 2005-06 was a boom time for art, after which the market collapsed. We wanted to ensure the survival of emerging artists by offering them a platform to sell their work free of cost. A handful of 40-50 respected artists keep coming to the galleries; the young artists remain out of the loop,” Sharma explained.
Sharma said the “fair was going to open several avenues”.
“On the commercial front, it is a major exercise to implement some corrections in the art market. During the boom years, we were mindlessly buying and selling. But now, to promote art, profit cannot be the only driving force. We need to attract more and more art collectors to the scene. We need to tell them that they are the real patrons and it is a process of mutual cultivation,” Sharma said.
The fair will become an annual feature.
Earlier, in 2007, the “Art Trade Fair”, a two-day initiative to allow artists to sell their work directly without the constricting role of art galleries ended after its debut at the Chinmaya Mission in the capital.
The trade fair could not find an audience, with buyers turning their backs on “the affordable new art” – some priced as low as Rs.500.
A leading gallerist in the capital explained that art, ironically, was judged by its quality and price and not the other way round.
“The more exclusive and expensive the work, the better its chance to find buyers in the market,” the gallerist told IANS, requesting anonymity.
The India Art Fair, the country’s first art fair set up in 2008, operates on gallery representation, drawing the best of international and national art houses to the capital.