Sunday, October 27, 2013

United Art Fair - A story of guts to glory!

Dear Friends,

My post on United Art Fair published in the latest issue of The Wall, please do read it here or on Your comments and feedback is much appreciated.

Art needed a new platform away from the gallery structure that characterises a typical art fair. Not that, the gallery structure is not important but it can then showcase only limited artists and hence an art fair which encompasses more artists than pretty much the entire gallery system, always make you curious.

I said it earlier and will say it again, to run an artist art fair in this environment is evangelical and maybe a bit suicidal ! Annurag Sharma did a bit of both, pulling off a very well laid art fair. In terms of design and execution, I have always admired India Art Fair because with every passing year, they have set the bench a bit higher. Annurag did not disappoint on that front and the layout was spacious and not cramped at all, in fact in terms of layout and the ease to move around, he even surpassed India Art Fair.

This is not to compare both the art fairs but to appreciate both of them as having a unique contribution to the art world. But then the credit of this layout and curation should definitely go to the genius of Peter Nagy and his curatorial team. Peter is an inspirational gallerist and curator, someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the Indian art world. Now. Some people would hate to admit this but then the art world is a bit like a tank full of crabs, no crab wants the other one to get out and do better, so they criticise everything that someone does.

For all his genius, Peter seems a lot bothered about what other people have to say in the art world, although he always denies it. So all this talk about his doing United Art Fair had a lot of negativity but I was happy to see that this negativity did not carry forward to the fair as I saw everyone who mattered in the Indian art world at the fair. For all the galleries and artists who decided to sit out, maybe it is time for them to slowly start moving out as the art world has moved on and most of them actually do not matter in the new equation.

The opening day was really good and it was good to meet a lot of people and I could see that the buzz was just coming back a bit. Did this translate into sales ? Definitely not, sales were less than robust and although I thought a sale figure around 2 crores was an honest number it could have been much better. I think, where the curators and the organisers could have done better were the prices, why do I say that ? All artists had to give a work free and got 50% on the second artwork, what that meant was, that in order to get their money back,the works were at least priced 50% higher in most cases. Now, this could have been avoided but the curators and the organisers needed to sit it out and actually ensure that pricing could have been more reasonable.

Like it happens in every art transaction, curators and artists say that they do not want to get involved with the price, but that is as false a statement as can be. If they were not involved, then important from them to be, so that a collector could get value and make an instant purchase, this is an affordable art fair.

But then, this is not criticism but just an area that could be improved upon, in my view, I would rate the fair a very good 8/10 on all parameters and a commendable effort. Human effort can conquer anything and both Annurag and Peter actually did that with a leap of faith. The right way to realise the expenses incurred and also keep the interest alive is to do a collateral event every month showing some of this art at attractive prices for collectors to collect. That is a commitment that I would always love to help with and I am sure that next year with sponsorship support and a year of marketing, this will be a fair to reckon with.

Till then, here are some of my personal picks from the United Art Fair!

Parag Sonarghare 
I perform therefore I am
Acrylic on canvas and used clothes
Dhara Malhotra
Silent Hymns - I
Acrylic and mixed medium on canvas
Soni Jogi
Red bird on yellow
Acrylic on canvas
Yuvan Bothysathuvar
Canson paper on plywood
Rashmi Kaleka
Austral Visit
Mixed media acrylic on canvas feather glue plastic bags
Prathap Modi
Unheard Voices
Wood carving and oil on wood
Kundan Mondal 
Possibly Political - 2
Wood with digital print and acrylic on paper
Prittam Priyalochan
Performer with his pink umbrella at IGNCA
Ink, charcoal and acrylic on paper

Kapil Chopra is President of Oberoi Hotels and Resorts.He writes a blog on collecting Indian Contemporary Art at is also a mentor to India's leading art magazine, The Wall at and also which helps EWS patients get hospital beds in private hospitals free of cost.In addition to this he also the Founder of India's largest selling art gallery,


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