Indian footprint growing in Art Dubai

February 5th, 2012 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) Art Dubai, one of the biggest art showcases in the Gulf, is seeking to position itself as a crucial international platform for Middle Eastern and South Asian art, with a strong Indian presence at its annual display-cum-trade exposition next month.

“It is an easy hop for the local NRI families in the region - to and fro,” Antonia Carver, director of the fair that will be held from March 21 to 24, told IANS here.

Pointing to an emerging trend in the buying pattern among Indian expatriates in the Gulf, Carver said “the first-time galleries like Seven Arts and Galerie Mirchandani were trying to give the Indian communities overseas something new…something fresh”.

The generation gap has a lot to do with the diverse selection of art work from India, Carver explained.

“While the older parents in big families are highly supportive of Indian modernists, the children look for contemporary artists. The new generation of potential Indian buyers who have grown up in Dubai has one foot in India, one in Dubai and one in the world,” Carver said.

“But they want to keep their connection with India,” she said.

Four leading Indian galleries, including Chemould Presscott Road (Mumbai), Experimenter (Kolkata), Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke (Mumbai) and Seven Art Limited (New Delhi), will present a medley of old and new Indian art at Art Dubai.

“The fair is well-supported by major Indian business families in the United Arab Emirates,” Carver said.

“We have art connoisseur Smita Prabhakar, and collector Lekha Poddar on our advisory board while Mumbai gallerist Shireen Gandhy is a member of the selection committee. South Asian art historian Savita Apte is the co-director of the fair,” Carver said.

She was at the recent India Art Fair to “identify young talent and new works for the future - and generate awareness about the emerging power of Middle Eastern and South Asian art”.

Carver, an arts writer and administrator who has been in Dubai for the last eight years, said “the visitors’ profile of the fair has changed in the last few years with more and more participation of non-resident Indian collectors - even from London and New York”.

One of the important NRI entries to the fair is young Dubai-born Indian artist, Ubik, who will engage viewers in a dialogue about “art fairs” through an interactive installation.

“He will make a small intervention (project) at the fair using fortune cookies that will contain imprints of his bank statements inside them instead of the usual one-line messages. The installation will comment on the nature of art fairs and the changing finances of artists,” Carver said.

“Every visitor will be given one fortune cookie,” she said. The brief is to create new installation works that analyse the fair as a model, the director said.

The director of Art Dubai said “the fair will display art works by nearly 600 artists”.

“It will exhibit more than 1,000 sculptures and lots of video,” Carver said.

The fair will host around 75 galleries.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

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