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Impulsive buying takes backstage at India Art Fair (Review)
New Delhi, Feb 3 - In first two years since its inception in 2008, the India Art Fair(IAF) was flooded with "impulsive" buyers who didn't hesitate to invest in art, but the economic slump reversed this trend, leading to "cautious" buying.
This was pretty much evident at the sixth edition of the IAF that concluded Sunday where 30 international and 47 domestic galleries had displayed their best collection across 91 booths in colourful marquees spread over 20,000 square feet space of the NSIC Grounds at Okhla in south Delhi.
"When this fair had begun, sales were brilliant because people would just get lost in the deluge of art works. So, what they liked at first instinct, they would buy immediately. There was a lot of impulsive buying in the first two years, which was great for our business," Sukriti Dugal of Palette art gallery told IANS.
"Now it is not the case. Interested buyers take their own sweet time. They will come and see, then they will come again... so they are thinking a lot before they decide," she added, saying business was "alright" at the fair, but many buyers are still wary of buying contemporary art.
According to Abhay Maskara there is an audience for all kinds of art at the fair, but buyers now like to take a pause and visit again only if the art is different and resonates with their taste.
"Audiences for contemporary and modern art, new medium art forms like video and sound installations co-exist in harmony. Different types of buyers came to the fair with distinctive tastes, and with so much of art on display they were spoilt for choice," Maskara, from Mumbai-based Galley of the same name, told IANS.
His gallery represents contemporary artists like Priyanka Choudhary and Shine Shivan, whose oeuvre includes digital prints, water colours and sculptures.
But, those who are affected the most from this indifferent buying attitude are the international buyers, who have to "earn" before they participate in the fair. This lackadaisical attitude, according to many of them, is because of lack of "knowledge"
about foreign art.
Peter Femfert of Die Galerie has been participating in the art fair for the last four years and each time he has faced this annoying question: "Are these real Pablo Picasso paintings?"
Amused, astonished and disappointed, the Frankfurt-based gallerist shook his head in disbelief at such an "innocuously silly" question.
"People still think we are a museum, just because we have the best and revered artists from the West. It is a bit disappointing to face this question every year. It shows that the interest in foreign art has to be developed, something that can enhance their knowledge about art, and how to see art," Femfert told IANS.
"Business this year has been slow, and it is not good news because we have to earn before we participate in this fair. I love it, but I can't afford to be here every year. I am not sure whether I'll be coming next year," he said.
His gallery boasts of works of masters like Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.
First-time participant Michael Tekath, also from Germany, received lukewarm response and also wasn't sure about next year.
"I guess it is too early to be in India for the kind of work we do," Tekath told IANS.
Tekath had presented a mix of contemporary and modern art at the fair ? and the the most expensive work was for Rs.50 lakh.
Amidst the gloom, London-based galley Scream and Paris-based Mark Hachem's artworks were well-received and found many takers.
"Our range of artists had designed a collection especially for the fair, and we have received wonderful response," Scream creative director Melissa Digby-Bell told IANS.
"Our democratic prices did the trick and so did our colourful and catchy visuals at the fair," she said, adding they had "strong sales" and their artworks engaged with the Indian audiences.
The collection had visuals of Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, and a neon ? a glittering piece by British artist Chris Bracey - received the maximum inquires. The works were priced between Rs. 500,000 and Rs. 174,000.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Mark Hachem, another first-timer, whose his iconic fashion-brand Channel inspired collection was well-received.
"I would like to come next year as well. I did good business. There were many enquiries. It will take a few days to know what all has materialised into sales," Hachem told IANS.
Dhoomimal gallery director Uday Jain felt the platofrom was the best for educating children and other people of the country about art.
"We don't have many art museums in our country, so this fair gives us the best platform to exhibit and expose different kinds of works to people who can understand various forms of art," Jain told IANS.
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