Next to speakers’ forum is a ten-foot high
head of a baby Chintu or Smart Alec called Iconic Shrine Lost
With its mouth open and shining big blue eyes, its
chrome yellow face is covered by many images that change as one
goes around it.
The artist, Chintan Upadhyay, claims it is lost head of
Ganesha before it was cut off by his father, Shiva and later
replaced with an elephant’s head.
The huge fiberglass head has traditional Shekhwati art-form
images from Rajasthan.
Intrigues, many visitors wanted to click
their photos with this enigmatic, cute baby.
The different venues for lectures and seminars go on during
the four-day fair.
Renowned art critics, dealers, experts,
auctioneers, dealers and professors address the various
Many of these sessions are well-attended with lively
discussions and debates.
Surprisingly, the director of this humungous exhibition is a
young lady from Delhi, Neha Kirpal.
The story goes that in 2008 she visited London while working
for a PR and event management firm.
She was awed by London’s happening feverish art scene with
She wondered, Why not have am art fair for Delhi?
During a flight, she wrote the business plan on the back of
an airsickness bag, got off the plane and convinced her
employers to loan her ten million Rupees to create the Art
The first show in 2008 was called India Art Summit at Pragati
Maidan showgrounds in New Delhi for modern and contemporary art.
The first fair targeted over 6,000 visitors with 34
exhibiting galleries at the fair, and over 550 contemporary and
This first show managed to attract local art galleries on one
big hall but the next event was much bigger with more Indian and
international participation from Britain, France, Spain, USA,
Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Italy and many other countries.
Before this Fair, Mumbai was the premium centre for Indian
art shows but this event has changed all that and now many
galleries from Mumbai exhibit here because they cannot be left
out of such an important event on the international circuit that
generates good business.
After another two years of steady growth, increased
participation and attendance, the venue was shifted to NSIC
ground in Okhla.
This is a much bigger space with state-of-the art German
tents that are transformed into custom built halls over 12,000
square meters by a British event management company.
Its slick presentation and organization makes one wonder if
this event is being held in some western country.
The numbers of exhibitors, artists and visitors has kept on
increasing every year except in 2010 when there was no event.
Neha Kirpal, the current owner of the India Art Fair divested
49 per cent of its stake in early 2011 to two stakeholders,
Sandy Angus and Will Ramsay, co-founders of the Hong Kong Art
Fair, to create a larger network.
The fair is judged by the caliber of the visitors. Before it
is inaugurated, receptions are held for collectors and foreign
During the four-day event, buyers, VIP visitors and art
aficionados are allowed and the fair is open to the public after
The entry fee is high at Rs. 300 (around three pounds
sterling) per person although art students come at a much lower
entry fee. Going round the fair, you see elegantly dressed
people talking art in soft tones and keenly admiring the art on
The three main halls have their own cafes and meeting places
and public seating for those get tired. It is all very
sophisticated, unlike most Indian public events.
During its six events, the fair has managed to exhibit and
facilitate the sale of many world renowned artists like Picasso,
Dalí, Auguste Rodin, Miró, Marc Chagall,Marina Abramovic, M. F.
Husain, S H Raza, F.N. Souza,Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Anjolie
Ela Menon and Thota Vaikuntam.
She says, "The audience response to what they
relate to. Over the years, the Fair has become the audience’s
fair. Forty percent of our first-time buyers come from smaller
cities of India."