There are a series of changes going on at the India Art Fair. After taking a break this year due to pandemic-induced restrictions, the annual art event will return in 2022 under a new leadership. Jaya Asokan is taking over as the new fair director from Jagdip Jagpal, who after three successful editions, is stepping down to pursue newer avenues within the arts.
Prior to this appointment, Asokan held roles of the deputy fair director and director, exhibitor relations. According to a statement by the fair organisers, Asokan comes with a strong background and knowledge of the cultural landscape. “Jaya has played an important role in repositioning the fair whilst spearheading international gallery and institutional participation along with overseeing the fair’s curation and production,” it states. In the past, Asokan has worked in numerous capacities across creative fields such as art, design, fashion and luxury, and hopes to bring this interdisciplinary approach to the fair as well.
It remains to be seen how Asokan will carry forth Jagpal’s vision of creating a strong voice for South Asia at the fair. Under the latter's leadership, in the past three editions, one saw at least 70 percent space reserved for Indian galleries and 30 percent for the ones from overseas. The list of exhibitors was also pruned to create a deeper engagement with art instead of an emphasis on quantity. One saw the introduction of segments such as the Arts Project space, a performance art programme and the bookshop. Asokan hopes to straddle the old and the new in the coming edition. “We are proud to be a regional art fair and remain committed to providing a platform for leading Indian galleries and institutions, which occupy 70 percent of our floorspace, whilst also welcoming a selection of top international participants, who bring works that have never or rarely been shown in India,” she says over an email interview. “We see this year as an opportunity for experimentation and look forward to announcing new and year-round programmes, projects and creative partnerships in the coming months.”
The next edition will also feature learnings from the pandemic. With most of the art world adapting to a hybrid format, will the fair make its presence felt in both the digital and physical realms as well? And indeed, one of the fresh initiatives is to have a new website, besides distinct partnerships and a year-round programme to reflect the latest developments and stories around art and artists. “To me, the fair is dynamic and ever-evolving. Our ongoing ambition is for the website to serve as a window to the fair and the vibrancy of India’s art scene, with social media becoming a strong voice and personality,” says Asokan. “At the moment, we are focussing on implementing a new editorial strategy across all our digital platforms, by delving deeper into the stories behind the artists, galleries and partners we work with, and the regions in which they operate.”
The 13th India Art Fair will take place at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds, New Delhi, from 3-6 February, 2022.