One of the most thought-provoking installations at the current edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in southern India is by French-Indian artist Chittrovanu Mazumdar.
Spread out over four rooms, the interactive artwork invites the visitor to walk through dark tunnels and wider spaces featuring tangled wires, suspended lights inside metal bowls and boxes stuffed with metal and scraps.
With time the key theme, the work is intended to represent a flowing body of water and the ebb and flow of life.
As a follow-up to its success, Mazumdar will exhibit several small metal boxes, similar to the ones on display in Kochi, at the India Art Fair in Delhi from Thursday until Sunday.
Mazumdar, one of India’s leading contemporary artists, is represented by 1×1 Gallery in Dubai – one of the 72 galleries participating in the fair this year.
Over the past few years, the artist has focused on international exhibitions away from his homeland. His participation at the biennale and art fair marks a major return to India
“We have been working together over 10 years and have been wanting to go back to India for a long time,” says Malini Gulrajani, the founder and owner of 1×1 Gallery.
“Since we do not have a gallery in India, we have been showing his work in other countries, but this year, the time was right to come back. There is a lot more happening in the non-commercial sector, too, so it feels right.”
According to a recent report by United Kingdom-based art-market analysis firm ArtTactic, unlike the market euphoria of 2008 before the global financial crisis, the confidence that has returned to the South Asian art market is now attributed to something more tangible.
Biennales and festivals in that region are getting more attention worldwide – initiatives are being set up to support artists and artistic exchanges – and international museums are paying attention to the importance of South Asian art history.
There has also been a rise in museum-quality shows in India. The recent Jitish Kallat exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, curated by Catherine David, the deputy director of Paris’s Centre Pompidou, follows other notable exhibitions in recent years by the likes of Sudarshan Shetty (in January last year), Mrinalini Mukherjee (February 2015) and Raqs Media Collective (December 2014). These exhibitions were important as it was rare in India to have home-grown and internationally-renowned artists presenting work in their homeland.
The son of an Indian art legend will also showcase his work at the art fair. Dubai-based Owais Husain, son of the prominent Indian painter, the late M F Husain, will exhibit with the Floodlight Foundation. In his two-piece series, Mythology of Choice, Husain goes beyond his earlier works, which explored the personal and demographic experience of displacement, to address the global effects of environmental change.
Issues surrounding the regional arts industry and latest global trends will be discussed during the weekend.
Richard Armstrong, the director of Solomon R Guggenheim Museums and Foundation, and Sheena Wagstaff, chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, will discuss the future of museums in a globalised world. Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, president and director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, will talk about her approach to art collecting and what she looks for in acquisitions.
Another UAE gallery representing at the India Art Fair is Grey Noise in Dubai.
They will be showing work by Pakistani artist Fahd Bukri, Bangalore’s Mariam Suhail and Lantain Xie, who is one of five UAE artists chosen to represent the country at the Venice Biennale in May.
The gallery director, Hetal Pawani, explains their participation at the fair has the aim of showcasing their work to an emerging market.
“Grey Noise represents art practices with a focus towards contemporaneity, and an emphasis on distinct, often experimental content,” she says.
“Our presentation at India Art Fair is a representation of our gallery programme over all.”
• India Art Fair runs from Thursday to Sunday. For more details, visit www.indiaartfair.in