For the past decade, India’s art collectors have flocked to New Delhi to view and purchase modern and contemporary artwork at the annual India Art Fair. But the South Asian nation is getting another major art fair: Art Mumbai, which is scheduled to showcase dozens of exhibitors during its inaugural edition this November in the nation’s financial hub.
The art fair will be hosted at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse between November 16 and 19, with forty-three participating galleries. Some of the exhibitors, such as London’s Grosvenor Gallery and New York’s Aicon Contemporary and Aicon Gallery, will come from abroad. But most participating galleries are based in India, including Mumbai’s The Guild, which specializes in experimental and innovative and contemporary artists, and Chatterjee & Lal, which features historical materials alongside artwork.
New Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery and Photoink, which respectively focus on contemporary artwork and photography, and Kolkata’s multidisciplinary Experiment gallery, will also be among the exhibitors at the inaugural event. According to Art Mumbai, the fair’s participants will showcase “the best of modern and contemporary art, crafts, folk art and antiquities from across the region with an overlay of technology and A.I.”
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Blue-chip international galleries like Continua and Lisson have already expressed interest in taking part in future iterations of Art Mumbai, according to the fair’s co-founder Dinesh Vazirani, who told the Art Newspaper that he is planning on staging Bollywood galas and parties to help promote the event. He has long been involved in India’s art market, having co-founded SaffronArt, one of India’s largest auction houses, in 2000. While a non-profit connected to the auction house will be present at Art Mumbai, Vazirani, who is currently CEO of SaffronArt, maintained that the auctioneer and art fair will remain separate entities.
An impressive roster of figures from the global and Indian art world are coming together to put on Mumbai’s first major art fair. Nakul Dev Chawla, another co-founder of Art Mumbai, described the event as “the biggest art fair India will ever see” in a LinkedIn post. The head of online gallery and marketplace Global Art Hub, Chawla is also the grandson of D.V. Chawla, founder of the renowned Chawla Art Gallery. Meanwhile, Vazirani’s wife Minal, president of SaffronArt; and Conor Macklin, director of Grosvenor Gallery, are also involved in the fair’s organization. Teesta Bhandare, a curator and collector from New Delhi, will be its director, according to the Art Newspaper.
What is the state of India’s art market?
The upcoming fair will be staged alongside a growing demand for high-end artwork in the region. The Indian art market saw record turnover in 2022 of $137 million, according to a report from market intelligence firm Indian Art Investor. This feat was broken once again in 2023, which saw turnover of $144.3 million.
The sector grew throughout the pandemic as a new category of Indian collectors entered the market and began bidding at art auctions, according to Sonal Singh, the managing director of Christie’s Indian department. “The economics are clear to indicate that people are getting wealthier, and there is more to spend on art and luxury collectibles,” she told Indian newspaper Mint earlier this month.
The emergence of art fairs and new private museums in India is another indicator of sustained demand for artwork in the nation, according to Singh. The Museum of Art and Photography Bengaluru opened its doors in February, while the new Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is scheduled to open in New Delhi by 2026. “I am very optimistic about the market. It has huge potential for growth,” said Singh.