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India Art Fair Spotlights Handmade Collectibles with Inaugural Design Section


For the first time in 15 years, the most influential art fair in South Asia puts the focus on design with a new section featuring Carpenters Workshop Gallery x Ashiesh Shah, Gunjan Gupta, de Gournay, Vikram Goyal and more.

By Niharika Joshi

18 Feb 2024

The India Art Fair returned for its 15th edition in New Delhi February 1 - 4, 2024 | Image Courtesy of India Art Fair

Winters in New Delhi can get awfully dreary with a pall of fog or smog usually blocking the sun for days at a time and slowing the entire city down. What brings respite, at least for the creatively inclined, is a slew of vibrant art, architecture, and design festivals, the first of which is the annual India Art Fair (IAF), arguably the biggest and most influential modern and contemporary art festival in South Asia. 

The 15th edition of the fair, running February 1 - 4 and in partnership with BMW India, featured over 100 exhibitors including 72 galleries and 23 institutions, as well as presentations from 15 cultural festivals. On display were works by established Indian modernists such as Jamini Roy and Ram Kumar, photographers including Dayanita Singh and Gauri Gill, international powerhouses such as Olafur Eliasson and Ozioma Onuzulike, along with a host of new and emerging artists working across diverse mediums. Most galleries reported robust sales with a piece by Indian painter Tyeb Mehta selling for USD 1.8 million, one of American artist Nari Ward’s works going in the range of USD 400,000, and a collectible by Spanish artist Nacho Carbonell selling for EUR 350,000. “This edition has been our most ambitious to date,” said fair director Jaya Asokan. “Galleries have been making sales at all price points to both established collectors and a new millennial generation who will be instrumental in shaping the art market of the future.” 

Lily Pad Tree by Spanish artist Nacho Carbonell was on display at the booth by Carpenters Workshop Gallery (CWG) x Ashiesh Shah | Image by Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt; Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The inaugural Design section, however, stole the show for us. Featuring limited edition design by 7 pioneering studios alongside leading global contemporary art galleries, the addition reflected an ongoing change in the industry with private and institutional collectors placing greater emphasis on this category. Here’s what caught our attention:

Carpenters Workshop Gallery (CWG) x Ashiesh Shah

London-born global art gallery CWG collaborated with Mumbai-based architect and designer Ashiesh Shah to curate their booth around the theme of Querencia (Spanish for a place of safety and inspiration). Propelled by names such as American sculptor Wendell Castle, Nacho Carbonell, French-Swedish furniture maker Ingrid Donat, and German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, the exhibit reflected a focus on craftsmanship and material experimentation. Highlights included Castle’s Above Within Beyond, a bronze seat-like piece meticulously crafted with sensuous, sculptural curves, and Carbonell’s Coffee Table Tree (187/2021), a metal mesh honeycomb structure woven into organic shapes in an apparent nod to the forms of trees and leaves.

Above Within Beyond by American sculptor Wendell Castle | Image by Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt | Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Vikram Goyal

New Delhi-based designer Vikram Goyal’s limited edition collection of furniture and lifestyle objects in bronze, such as coffee tables, screens and consoles, was a sight to see. The tree-like limbs of Song of the Forest made in sheet and cast metal and semi-precious stones evoked memories of lush Indian mangrove forests. The highlight, a mural titled Silken Passage, showcased Goyal’s mastery in repoussé, a complex metalworking technique that has become the studio’s signature. 

Silken Passage by Vikram Goyal Studio, a mural inspired by the landscapes along the Silk Road | Image Courtesy of India Art Fair

Karishma Swali & Chanakya School of Craft

Led by artistic director Karishma Swali, the Mumbai-based textile and embroidery foundation Chanakya School of Craft showcased three artwork series blending art and craft. The Belong series, put together by 27 master artisans and a dozen female graduates from the school, explored the timeless relationship between humans and nature. It featured large, handwoven pieces in silk, organza, khadi, jute, and linen showcasing intricate layering and a variety of needlepoint techniques, as well as hand-molded soft sculptures in bamboo, papier-mâché, and jute.

Belong I by Karishma Swali & Chanakya School of Craft explores the timeless relationships between humans and nature | Image Courtesy of Chanakya School of Craft

Rooshad Shroff x T. Venkanna

This collaboration takes Mumbai-based designer Rooshad Shroff's C-series line of furniture to the realm of collectible objects. Titled INpLAY, the beautiful series started as Hyderabad-based artist T. Venkanna’s spontaneous response to the furniture items in his chosen medium of watercolor drawings. The art, which explores notions of belonging, control, excess, censorship, shame and privacy, was then translated into marble inlay by Agra-based master craftspersons and carefully inlaid into recycled Burma teak to create screens, tables, and chairs.

The INpLAY series of marble-inlaid furniture by Rooshad Shroff x T. Venkanna | Image by Mitwa Abhay Vandana (Gallery Maskara); Courtesy of Rooshad Shroff

Gunjan Gupta

New Delhi-based artist and designer Gunjan Gupta offered a fresh take on India’s cultural landscape with her latest collection of conceptual furniture, jewelry and photography titled Every Day / Yesterday. Embodying her ingenious yet playful style, the pieces on display showcased a reimagination of traditional Indian handmade crafts using innovative materials and techniques. Amongst old and new artworks straddling the line between object and furniture, we were especially taken by The Pot is ‘HER’ Totem Pole. The signature piece, composed of 4 matka pot-tables stacked on top of each other to resemble a totem pole, alluded to a primordial sense of beauty and fertility inspired by the divine feminine.

The Pot is ‘HER’ Totem Pole by Gunjan Gupta is inspired by the divine feminine | Image courtesy of Gunjan Gupta Studio

de Gournay

British luxury interiors company de Gournay, known for its unique, handmade interior design objects including wallpapers, embroidered wall coverings, porcelain and fabrics, debuted at the India Art Fair with a masterful visual treat for visitors. A curated range of their hand painted and hand embroidered wallpapers and tapestries, specially created by artisans from Kolkata using regional techniques and methodologies, was on display.

The handmade Deco Dawn wallpaper on deep rich gold gilded paper | Image by Alexandra Shamis; Courtesy of de Gournay

India Art Fair will return for its 16th edition from February 6 - 9, 2025 at NSIC Grounds, New Delhi.


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