India’s first art summit kicks off

August 22nd, 2008 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) India joined the elite club of global art hotspots Friday, with the India Art Summit 2008 being inaugurated here as a showcase of modern and contemporary art from the country and abroad modelled on international art fairs.The three-day summit Aug 22-24 was inaugurated at Pragati Maidan by Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni. The summit is showcasing 400 works by 200 modern and contemporary artists - a diverse spread that includes paintings, sculptures, photography, mixed media canvases, video art, installations and drawings.

The summit has been organised by Hanmer MS&L, a multidisciplinary communications firm, and endorsed by the ministry of culture and global auction house Sotheby’s as the country’s official art fair.

The objective of the art fair, according to organisers, is to create a platform to access and appreciate the diversity of Indian art.

The summit, said the organisers, will help achieve the dual purpose of serving as a window for international collectors to get a single access point for Indian art and on the other exposing Indian art collectors to a range of global art that will be showcased by the fair that will become an annual feature in the country’s art calendar.

The Indian art market is currently estimated at $400 million and is growing at nearly 35 percent annually.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Minister Ambika Soni said with hundreds of years in art history, it is time for India to offer an art fair to the world and earn its rightful place in the global art circuit.

“My ministry and the government extend full support and recognition to the initiative and we are confident that it will go a long way in promoting the cause of Indian art and artists globally.”

The event has already attracted controversy as one of India’s most eminent artists, M.F. Husain, does not feature in it. But Soni declined to comment on the issue.

Sunil Gautam, the managing director of the India Art Summit, said as India continues to prosper, both at home and in international markets, his organisation felt it was time for India to have its own art fair and carve a special niche for itself in the global art circuit.

The fair began with a “Collectors’ Preview” that was attended by collectors from India, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, New York and London. One of the vital components of the India Art Summit will be the art forum, day-long seminar on themes and issues pertaining to Indian art, which will take place Aug 23.

According to Robert Storr, an expert from the Yale School of Art, this was the first step where you could set the ball rolling for a full-scale international art fair in the future.

“There is a lot to see - paintings, sculptures, very good photography and even better video. The importance of the electronic media is growing among the younger lot of contemporary artists and there are very art-oriented films being made in India,” Storr told IANS.

“But this fair needs a wider audience. Artists do not make art just for the sake of dealers and buyers. It should be promoted to a wider section of the audience,” said Storr, one of the key speakers of the Art Forum Saturday.

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