India highlight of prestigious European art fair - ARCO

New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Indian art will be the highlight of one of Europe's best-known contemporary art fairs - ARCO Madrid 2009, which will be held in February 2009 and showcase the works of stalwarts like Subodh Gupta, M.F. Husain and Tyeb Mehta.The 28-year-old fair's special section Panorama, which features art from guest nations, will be dedicated to India.

The Indian cache, curated by leading contemporary artist Bose Krishnamachari, will comprise 13 leading galleries, including three from Delhi, featuring works and photographs by 50 artists.

Besides Gupta, Husain and Mehta, the other big names whose works will be showcased at the Feb 11-16 fair are Ganesh Pyne, Atul Dodiya, Riyas Komu, Rashid Rana and T.V. Santosh.

"We chose India as the special invitee this year because of its rich cultural and political history. We also want to open up new linkages between the two countries for better cultural exchange. India is doing extremely well in the field of contemporary arts and there is a growing movement to promote young contemporary artists worldwide," Luis Eduardo Cortes, chairman of the IFEMA, told IANS.

ARCO Madrid was founded in 1982 by the Institución Ferial de Madrid (IFEMA) to promote the scores of art houses across Spain, which is the birthplace of legends like Francisco Jose De Goya, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Diego Velazquez.

The fair logs an average footfall of 200,000 every year and sees the participation of nearly 300 galleries from all over the world.

The 2009 Panorama section will be complemented by a series of exhibitions, film cycles and activities, curated by artist Shaheen Merali, which will be presented in all leading museums and art centres across Madrid. This is being done to help European collectors and investors understand the Indian contemporary art scenario.

"We want the people of Spain, museums, galleries, investors and collectors across Europe to know the individuals who are well known in the contemporary art movement.

"Though Europeans are in general attracted to India, their knowledge of Indian contemporary art is not very deep. Moreover, the market for Indian art is growing, unlike western art, which has a steady market," Cortes said.

Citing figures, ARCO Madrid director Lourdes Fernandez said a market valuation index by a leading French consultant in July 2008 cited an overall growth of 323 percent over the last 10 years in the Indian contemporary art segment.

"The only difference between the Indian and Spanish art markets is that the Indian market is still very local. In contrast, the Spanish market is much more open to Latin American, European and Central American markets because of linguistic links.

"We will hold interactive sessions between museum curators, investors, collectors and the Indian galleries to push business prospects. As an invited nation, the status of India is very important in the fair," said Fernandez.

The Indian galleries are looking forward to the fair.

"We will showcase two talented Bangalore-based contemporary artists - Soren Pors and Aparna Rao, one Danish and the other Indian - at ARCO Madrid's Expanded Box section. They work as a team known as Pors and Rao," Roshni Vadehra of the Delhi-based Vadehra Gallery said.

Renu Modi of Gallery Espace said she was taking works by artists Chintan Upadhyay, Anandjit Ray and Manjunath Kamath to the fair.

The Art & Co magazine, published by the IFEMA to coincide with the fair, is also devoting its latest issue to India to acknowledge its presence and strength in the global contemporary art market.

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