India Art Fair is back and how! Art Fervour was lucky enough to have Jagdip Jagpal take us through her favourite artworks and booths so far at the 2022 edition of the fair, happening from 28th April to 1st May. We also spoke to her about the experience of the fair, what we absolutely must not miss, and the future of art mediums.
Jagdip Jagpal is an international arts & cultural producer, and was the director of India Art Fair in 2018, 2019 and 2020. She is the founder of India Contemporary, a collective that supports and promotes South Asian artists outside the region. Jagdip currently works with Neugerriemschneider Gallery in Berlin and is the Chair of UK Public Arts Organization UP Projects.
Here’s the conversation we had with her.
- How does it feel to be back at India Art Fair after almost 2 years?
That’s an easy one. The magic of South Asian art just never goes away and to be back and to see how dynamic the scene is, every single aspect of the sector– it’s magical! For me it has also been an emotional journey, because to be back and not have to worry about the fair and just to be able to look at the art and meet friends after such a long time. It’s been terrific!
- What are you most excited about?
It’s seeing the artists who are lesser a couple of years ago, seeing their works and to see how people are reacting to them. Seeing the confidence the artists have now and the manner in which they are able to talk about their practice. There’s Chetnaa who is there, there is Gurdeep Singh, and then the works speak for themselves with Arshi and Youdhi at the Blueprint12 and of course one of my all time favourites Renuka Rajive at the FICA booth. I have to say something about the Delhi Crafts Council, I just don’t know how they do it! Their booth has to be one of the most exceptional booths at art fairs I have ever been at. There is something about them, they are like a stick of rock– every layer is the same– they have a very clear vision. The way they pick their artists, this time it is Sangita Jogi. Even though sadly she couldn’t be here because she just had her third child. The manner in which the Delhi Crafts Council tells the artist’s story, and the standard of curation are fantastic.
- What are your expectations? There is quite a lot of hype and anticipation around IAF 2022– how do you feel about that?
I have actually been to a couple of post-covid fairs. You can feel the excitement is there particularly as people don’t miss something until it’s gone, or appreciate what they had. You can feel the energy and the bounce that happens when there is a fair post-covid and that’s exactly how it should be. People now want to have that in-person experience. For me online is like reading the script to a film instead of watching it or reading a musical sheet instead of hearing it to the song on the radio. So this art in person is amazing. So I am glad– it’s a shame because I know that so many international visitors would have liked to come but it was very difficult obviously, this year but it feels good!
- Looking at the art, do you think art as we knew pre-pandemic has changed? Has there been a shift in the way we view art?
It is inevitable that some of the works that have been created in the last few years have the– in the background they are very much of the time, and when people look back at them, there will be remembrance of this difficult period, of 2020-2022. I think in terms of the creation of art, definitely it is impossible for people not to have been impacted by it. In the terms of viewing the art, more people went online, put up better images online, through different digital means and started telling stories when they weren’t able to show their art or tell their stories, has really helped increase the audience. It has allowed an audience who would normally find art inaccessible, accessible. Even now there are people who are following the fair but they are following it through digital means– they can’t be at the fair for any number of reasons. So, I think that is the way to build an audience. I think it is good because what people do is also change the way they view their own local art scenes– that has to be a good thing.
- Do you feel that people are more appreciative of art now than ever before?
I think, there are two sides to it; one is that people who already had access to art are more appreciative. During the last two years some of them had the benefit of accessing workshops and creating things themselves in different formats whether it’s textile, drawing, painting, or creating works on their iPads, working with leftover materials and scraps and creating collages. So I think people have become conscious of that. In terms of people being more appreciative, the art sector is generally inaccessible– wherever you are in the world. But the fact that so many people, including people at Art Fervour, India Art Fair website– there are so many websites I can name where art has become more accessible, less dominated by jargon and more accessible to a greater number of people.
- Can you recommend 3-5 things our Art Fervour audience can do at the fair?
It is not often that you get the opportunity to see so many art books, so one thing that the audience of Art Fervour should do is visit the book shop, and also at the book shop there are art materials available. Not everybody can afford to buy a work of art or buy a book, because rarely do you see so many art books in one place.
Definitely find time to attend one of the auditorium talks! For me my favorite talk is when you have an artist speaking about their art as opposed to someone speaking about it. So a living artist, it is fantastic to have the artist there to walk you through their personal journeys and then there are talks about new formats etc. So yeah, I would say– definitely try and catch–this time around, I would say the auditorium talks and it could take any place, fair grounds is– performance art, which is my favourite (laughs). That sort of interactive element to it is fantastic! What else should people do? They should feel free to ask the gallerist about the work of art, whether or not they intend to buy it. If you like something then you must always ask. Never be shy about asking the price as well.
One thing I also recommend to the Art Fervour audience is to take photographs for their personal memories. When I am out of India, I talk about an artist with such passion and it is great to say hey look at this, to go to your phone and show people images and it has a great impact. So yeah, take as many photos as you can.
Do always—because it’s not possible for everybody to get to places like Kochi Biennale, Chennai Photo Biennale, Serendipity—do make time to visit those booths, where you’ll get a flavour of some of the things the foundation has done. They always support special projects, so this year there’s Heritage from Goa, KNMA, Chennai Photo Biennale, Kochi Biennale and Serendipity Arts Foundation It’s a great way to learn about events that have taken place, and upcoming events, so I would definitely recommend those.
- Which artwork/installation is your favourite so far and why?
Firstly I didn’t get to see everything yesterday, so I will be going back so that I can make proper time to see various things. I would say that the works that have really stuck in my mind this year are Rustom Siodia at Chatterjee & Lal, Arshi Ahmadzai’s work over at Blueprint12, without question Jignesh Panchal at Zoca – the range of the work that he’s done, and the precision, and simply artistry is amazing. Definitely Sangita Jogi at Delhi Crafts Council; always a must-see. Oh my goodness, there’s so many. Galerie Isa has a booth which always has these Antonio Santin carpets, but also this year they’re featuring a British-Asian artist called Ian Malhotra, a very different style to the works that you normally see at Galerie Isa. I’ve seen his works online but actually to see them in person really does have an impact. Obviously, I’ll be going back to see Madhvi Parekh at DAG and some of the great Modernists’ works. Yesterday was so busy, it’s like a blur as well; just so much art to be seen!
The absolute must-do, it’s on par with the Delhi Crafts Council, is Museo Camera – just wow. Just everything: the booth, the history, the team that are there, they’re amazing; I will remember that for a long time. And I’m going to go and visit the museum.
- Closing question- With new technology like NFT and VR taking the industry by storm, what do you think the future of art looks like?
NFT, VR – these are just new mediums. They are not art forms in themselves, but as is with paper, collage or video. These are all different mediums for art to show itself. I think the future of art will be what it is already. You can see that people are going back to the traditional art forms like painting and sculpture.
It’s a big wide world, every medium and platform has a space. For me — and I think this comes from appreciating the work of Ratheesh T, Mahesh Baliga, and people like Chetnaa, and Gurjeet Singh with his soft sculptures—this idea of creating things with your own hand means quite something to me, and those are the mediums that I’m most attracted to.
But you know, open minded. Until you experience something, you can’t form a view. I think it’s still early days and I think there will be a split audience – people who have a great interest in these new platforms/mediums, and people who have experienced it but prefer another medium. The good thing is that now that people have more access to learning and workshops, anybody can create art, in the sense that for themselves, it’s a personal journey and learning some of the techniques of these workshops online or in person is really great fun.
It was indeed an insightful conversation with Jagdip Jagpal and we are glad to have had the opportunity to interact with her. India Art Fair, the much awaited and highly anticipated art event is taking place in Delhi. If you’re in the city and wish to experience the works of art mentioned by Jagdip, head to the fair. Tell us how it was!