India Art Summit ends on mixed note in the capital

August 24th, 2008 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) The curtain came down on the India Art Summit 2008 in the capital on a mixed note as a pall of gloom descended on the participants and the organisers alike with the news that M.F. Husain’s exhibition was ransacked here. But the organisers of the art summit - Hanmer MS&L, a multi-discipline communications and creative services firm - were happy that the fair was able to draw huge crowds, transact brisk commerce and thrash out issues facing the Indian art industry.

The summit had excluded Husain’s works fearing controversy and trouble. It had issued advisories and guidelines to the galleries to bring non-controversial works, mostly by young contemporary artists to match the theme of the summit.

The Indian art market estimated at $400 million dollars (Rs 160 billion) is the fourth most buoyant market in the world.

The summit, said Sunil Gautam, managing director of Hanmer MS& L, registered approximately 10,000 footfalls on the closing day in the form of walk-ins.

On August 23, the number of footfalls crossed 7,000, according to a rough estimate by the organisers.

“Next year, the summit will be a three-fold affair. The registrations for participants have already begun for 2009 and nearly 50 international galleries have shown interest, along with 34 who took part in the summit this year,” Gautam told IANS. The fair will be held Aug 19-22 next year.

But all the leading art houses and sellers from the country, who were at the fair missed Husain.

“One of the major common issues that the art promoters discussed in the summit was the absence of M.F. Husain’s works. He is the father of Indian art and is almost single-handedly responsible for making Indian art global,” Sunaina Anand, director of leading Delhi-based gallery Art Alive, told IANS.

“We all are missing him and we hope that an important platform like this will draw attention to the issue.”

Reacting to the ransacking of the show of Husain’s works, Anand, whose gallery has promoted works by almost all master artists in India, said: “It is a very sad thing to have happened after all the support and encouragement from union Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni with regard to the spread of awareness about art and its growth as an industry.”

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