In its 6th edition now, India Art Fair has become a world renowned fair, with over 100 galleries from more than 20 countries across the globe participating. The fair gives the average Delhiwaala, art enthusiast or just plain curious, an opportunity to view the works of international artists  {including Picasso} and contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and  Tracey Enim, and also explore lesser known, younger artists from countries like Lativia, Israel and Turkey.

IAF opened its multiple double doors to a packed VIP preview. What makes this year different? There are a handful of new galleries and new countries being represented; the special projects actually turned out to be a few of the show-stoppers for us, and moreover, it was astounding to see everyone from a chatty Subodh Gupta to lost IAF nobodies, maps in hand, making their way through aisle after aisle of art.

Such visual stimulation can be daunting! Our advice is to start with Hall 1, which, in our humble opinion, has the best works and the most ‘interesting’ galleries. Don’t attempt to cover IAF at break-neck speed; chances are you’ll just get more overwhelmed. And do, most definitely, make it a point to stop at these 9 galleries and take a look at the mentioned works of art. Though there is plenty to devour, these particular works caught our fancy for the themes they explore, the cultures they represent, and in some cases, the mediums they use.

1. Sheba Chachhi, The Mermaid’s Mirrors | Special Project P4

Most of Sheba’s work is inspired from her active role as a prominent female activist of India. This particular work is a commentary on the objectification of women. The experience of walking into a dark room with TV screens displaying videos of iconic actress Meena Kumari, mounted in a spiral formation, is a stark contrast to the bright yellow lights of IAF; from the mellow whispers of Kumari’s dialogues that fill the room, to edited images of her dancing, the atmosphere created is eerie… anguished almost.

shebha-chhachi

2. Jackie Tsai, Porcelain Skull | The Scream, London A1

A Chinese artist living in London explores his roots through this intricate work done on porcelain. In a world where geographical boundaries are blurring, what makes this work riveting is the bridge it finds between a form that’s fairly edgy, and a style that traces back to the artist’s Chinese roots.

jackie-tsai

3. Shweta Bhattad, Bharat Mata in Taiwan, 1 | Latitude 28 E2

This work, for us, instantly drew references to women’s safety, especially given the unfortunate context of present day India. The artist draws on the theme of safety of women, and comments on how different the feeling of safety is in a country like India, vis a vis Taiwan.

chastity-belt

4. Shilpa Gupta and Jitish Kallat | Chemold Prescott Road  C2

Shilpa Gupta’s work presents sound and visual art, which come together as an installation where a mic is placed in front of a picture of a traffic light, mounted on a stand. What makes it cool? Breaking down a commonplace sight and sound – that of, and around a traffic light – into individual elements. The mic, rather than being used a medium to echo one’s own voice, is used as a speaker that echoes sounds heard at traffic lights.

traffic-light-mic

Known for works like ‘Public Notice’ {which was a part of our IAF contest quiz}, ‘Baggage Claim’, and ‘Auto-Rickshaw’, Jitish creates a super series of resin, paint, aluminium and steel figurines as a part of ‘Circadian Rhyme 2’. If you’ve ever stopped over at Heathrow, this particular work will resonate with you.

jitish-kallat

5. Narendra Yadav, That Original May Also be a Reflection | Special Project P8

A part of IAF special projects, Narendra uses vintage photographs, all of which are mounted inverted, and are in a panoply of sizes. For starters, the display in itself, with a concave mirror plotted in the middle of these framed/unframed images, catches your eye instantly. Once you’ve warmed to it, the narrative plays out. It could click a lost memory for some; the inverted images could reference an inverted connect to our past. You could just marvel at the sheer range of photographs, or contemplate why they could mean ‘the original is a reflection.’ Whatever your inclination, this one work in particular made us reminisce.

narendar-yadav-original-reflection narendar-yadav

6. Hamra Abbas | Jhaveri Contemporary C1

The artist moulded plasticine into ‘portraits’ that were just about 2 inches long, then photographed these mini-murals and displayed them as massive prints! We found the process behind the final work very interesting – taking something that’s 3 dimensional and minuscule in size, and blowing it up into a different dimension.

porcelain-c2

7. Hayat, Les Parfums de revoltes | Mark Hachem Gallery F8  

Chanel-esque perfume bottles, made using burnt transparent paper, with names of countries sprawled on them, housed in glass cases – we found ‘Les Parfums’ to be a poignant take on consumerism and how it’s penetrating every place from London to Beirut. Perhaps, that’s the ‘scent of revolution’.

les-parfums

8. Anita Dube, Koshish | Lakeerey C3  

Anita Dube works with words that are thought provoking. This particular piece is a word and visual play; by removing one element, koshish {which means effort} becomes kashish {which means attraction}. The medium,wool, is particularly endearing, and to us was indicative of how these two words and meanings are interwoven and reflective.

koshish-anita-dube

9. Lost I & Lost II | Contempop Gallery, Tel Aviv F3

Two people seated on a raft in the middle of a sky blue sea, this one had us singing “because we’re two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.” Good to have Israeli art make a debut at the IAF, and with a display that echoes how young and vibrant the city is.

tel-aviv

10. Speakers Forum

Friday’s session 2 on the Artists’ Panel features Peter Fischli {Swiss artist}, and Sarnath Banerjee {graphic novelist} as the interlocutor, who will speak on humour and its possibilities in art. Also on Friday, Bharati Kher and Jitish Kallat take the stage to discuss Indian contemporary art, which is two decades old!

Session 6 on Saturday delves into ‘The Passion for Collecting,’ with Budi Tek and Rajiv Savara addressing pertinent questions like ‘to what extent should art be governed by personal choice? When does a collection become significant?’

Finally, session 8 being held on Sunday debates ‘Contemporary Asian Art today – Practice and Reception’. The panel features professors from JNU, Kavita Singh, Parul Dave Mukherji & Naman Ahuja, and is being moderated by art curator and critic Geeta Kapur.

For timings and passes, log on to www.indiaartfair.in. If you’re going to be at IAF, #LBBDArt on pictures of the works you like most.