United Art Fair 2012: An overwhelming artistry celebration



Resham Sengar

New Delhi: Amidst much art fanfare, curators and patrons, the national capital saw a flying start to the United Art Fair 2012 which happens to be a one-of-its-kind art exhibition cum sale of 2,500 art works carrying names of more than 600 artists pan India.

The idea of UAF, which is the biggest Artist Driven art fair in the world, was conceived by Annurag Sharma, the MD of United Art Logistics Private Limited. “I have been working relentlessly with my team for the last one year and I am so happy that I could showcase a variety of Indian contemporary art,” said Annurag. For the fair, JohnyML, a noted art curator and critic and also the project director of UAF, travelled to fifteen art hubs in India (Baroda, Mumbai, Goa, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Guwahati, Kochi to name a few) and met the artists to spread the word of United Art Fair.

The jury comprising noted sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan, artist and Chairman of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademy, Diwan Manna, noted curator and critic Sandhya Bordawekar, writer-curator-critic Nanak Ganguly, former Diplomat art collector and dealer Franck Barthelemy and pedagogue and art administrator Ajaykumar selected the art works with Johny ML and his team mates. The criterion for choosing the artists was that their works should be very contemporary. “If you look at the works, ninety percent of them look very up-to-date,” said Johny ML.

The four-day-long fair is themed ‘Mirror’ and it is divided into six sections featuring contemporary creations of emerging talented Indian artists who have been hand-picked from different corners of the nation including far flung areas as well.

Photography, Printmaking, Masters’ Corner (displaying the works of the late artists like M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta and others) are the major sections. The main venue has a Tribute section presented by noted sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan, where he has paid respect to departed early modernist masters of art such as Ramkinkar Baij from West Bengal, photography legend Prabuddha Dasgupta and renowned sculptor Sarbari Roy Choudhary.

The fair features sculptures, paintings, photography, printmaking, Digital art and videos. The art pieces are priced by their respective artists between INR 20,000 to INR 1.5 crore which means that for the admirers, there is something to take home from the fair.

The sprawling 1, 00,000 square feet display area was abundant with high-octane artworks that dealt with various themes. At a certain Benod Behari Mukherji Street (each gallery was named after a renowned artist), hung a portrait of a sanitary napkin embedded in red ink with the musings of an adolescent girl reveling in her new found sexuality. At another Nandlal Bose Street, rested a portrait on the wall which remarkably showed a pair of eyes (of men) piercing through a woman’s clothing to satiate the lusty desire, thus hinting towards the lecherous mentality of Indian men who ogle at women at public places.

When quizzed about the benefit of organizing an art fair over a solo art exhibition, Johny ML said, “A solo art exhibition’s reach is limited. We may be able to pull in just 100 people which may be the artist’s contacts, some art collectors etcetera but in a fair people come in hoardes and it becomes almost like a celebration where everybody complements each other.”

After observing the positive response to the first edition of UAF, the organisers want to make it a regular event and the second edition of the event is already lined up for next year around the same time.

Considering the fact that UFA is a free for all event, the organisers were asked about the strategy for covering for the expenses to organize such a large fair in the coming years. JohnyML answered, “First few editions are going to be difficult on our pocket but we are going to raise money through sponsorships and we also plan to make this fair popular among the masses by way of social networking sites to spread the word about UAF.”

No doubt, UAF is one of the most effective platforms created in India for the promotion of art which would in turn promote and push a lot of price corrections and market boosting in the otherwise downtime art market.

The fair is being held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi from September 27-30.