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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 Karish