Art Market

India Art Fair Returns with a Focus on Young Collectors and South Asian Artists

Reena Devi
Feb 10, 2023 8:33PM

Installation view of India Art Fair, 2023. Courtesy of India Art Fair.

Held at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds in the heart of South Delhi from February 9th through 12th, the annual India Art Fair has returned with 71 galleries, a marked increase from last year’s 63.

This year’s exhibiting galleries, from internationally renowned outfits such as Kolkata’s Experimenter to up-and-coming spaces like New Delhi’s Art District XIII, are offering a focused presentation of works by Indian and South Asian artists. According to the fair organizers, this approach was a response to the rising number of collectors across India, akin to other parts of Asia such as Japan and South Korea. While previous global blue-chip exhibitors such as White Cube and David Zwirner are absent in this year’s edition, other international names such as Marc Straus and Aicon Gallery are present.

“The fair strategy has shifted towards a more domestic focus, driven by strong demand within India and a growing collecting base in cities beyond Delhi and Mumbai who are willing to buy across mediums and price points,” said fair director Jaya Asokan.

Raja Ravi Varma, installation view of Kizhakke Palat Krishna Menon & Family, 1870, in DAG’s booth at India Art Fair, 2023. Courtesy of India Art Fair.


The pandemic has created a huge appetite for art in India, said Ashish Anand, CEO and managing director of DAG, which opened two new spaces at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace hotel last year. “This was contrary to all expectations,” he said. “One can only presume that this was on account of people’s surplus disposable incomes and the freeing up of time that they used for research on artists and works of art.”

Industry figures have observed growing interest among millennials and a new generation of art lovers, whom Asokan believes “will be instrumental in shaping the art market of the future.” In a bid to connect with this growing demographic, India Art Fair 2023 has launched an expanded Young Collectors Programme with a dedicated hub at Bikaner House, a colonial residence and event space at the iconic India Gate. Visitors can look forward to an array of exhibitions, such as the debut of a little-known urban contemporary and post-graffiti gallery called Gallery XXL.

Exterior view of India Art Fair, 2023. Courtesy of India Art Fair.

Back at the fair, opening day was well attended. Spotted in the crowd were veteran Indian art collector Kiran Nadar, wife of the founder of the billion-dollar Indian tech company HCL Technologies; Raaja Kanwar, scion of the major North Indian industrial family behind Apollo Tyres; and Priya Paul, chairperson of Indian hotel chain Apeejay Surrendra Group, among other notable collectors.

Sales highlights so far include Mumbai gallery Chemould Prescott Road’s sale of a sculpture by N.S. Harsha for ₹5.5 million ($66,600). Meanwhile, New Delhi gallery Nature Morte sold a Tanya Goel work for more than ₹5 million ($60,600) and a Reena Saini Kallat work for approximately ₹2 million ($24,200).

Another Delhi outfit, Vadehra Art Gallery, sold an artwork by Rameshwar Broota for $200,000 to a private collection in the U.K., and an artwork by Balkrishna Doshi for $100,000 to Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi. One of the international exhibitors, GALLERIA CONTINUA, reported sales of artworks by Subodh Gupta, Nikhil Chopra, Shilpa Gupta, Loris Cecchini, Kiki Smith, Alejandro Campins, and Osvaldo González.

Installation view of Latitude 28’s booth at India Art Fair, 2023. Courtesy of Latitude 28.

According to Bhavna Kakar, founder of Delhi gallery Latitude 28, “Visitor response has always been delightful and spirited to our artworks at the India Art Fair throughout its many editions, and this year was no different.” Seventy-five percent of the gallery’s works on display had sold out by the time Artsy spoke with Kakar.

One of the galleries’ reported sales from the first day included a work by Yogesh Ramkrishna, a young visual art practitioner from Vadodara, for ₹800,000 ($9,700).

For DAG, the response has been supposedly staggering: “The manner of displaying works where they are allowed to speak for themselves without crowding the booth is an important element in how we exhibit, and that always catches the eye of the discerning visitor and collector,” said Anand.

DAG presented “Iconic Masterpieces of Indian Modern Art” at its booth, showcasing artworks such as Indian painter and sculptor Shanti Dave’s oil and encaustic painting Untitled (1974). This is in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title at the gallery’s new flagship space in New Delhi, which opened this month.

“The initial response just a few hours into the fair has been phenomenal with amazing inquiries,” Anand added. “I am sure we will end the fair on a hugely successful note.”

Shalini Passi, a young art collector and founder of local digital art platform MASH, hosted a private collectors’ reception the night before the fair, which was attended by famed Indian designer Manish Malhotra. She noted that this year’s edition reflected a post-pandemic trend involving the intersection of artists and technology.

Manu Parekh, Evening Prayer, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Gallerie Nvyā.

“A major change post-pandemic is that galleries have really shifted their focus to online sales like any other enterprise or organization,” Passi said. “It has made the boundaries between the artists and the connoisseurs flexible and increased the accessibility to contemporary and modern art. The same shift is evident with several Indian artists who’ve diligently explored digital platforms and social media to reach out to the art community.”

Shristi Sainani—who curated the booth for Delhi’s Gallerie Nvyā, featuring South Asian masters Sakti Burman, Manu Parekh, and Thota Vaikuntam—agreed: “New audiences, institutions, and platforms, both physical and digital, [are] springing up to interact with and enhance the Indian art sphere. There is also an interest in experimental work, a growing space allotted to ‘new media.’”

In response to this trend, India Art Fair is presenting works by its digital artists in residence—visual artist and illustrator Mira Felicia Malhotra, poet and writer Gaurav Ogale, and multidisciplinary artist Varun Desai—in a special section known as The Studio. These works were all made on an iPad Pro, responding to the theme of “Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.” There will also be an interactive showcase with video and tech-inspired artworks by contemporary artists Sudarshan Shetty and Raghava K.K., as well as digital animations and drawings by Shrimanti Saha.

“The [Indian] art scene has seen a transformative shift, and together with our artists, galleries, and partners, we’re proud to pave the way for a bold and inclusive new era in the art world,” said Asokan, the fair’s director. “We are determined to deliver the largest and most ambitious edition yet, featuring a diverse range of new and emerging artists from all corners of India and South Asia.”

Reena Devi