Life in technicolour: Neha Kirpal, Founder, India Art Fair


I never imagined my life would take this course; nobody from my family had any background in the arts. I studied Political Science while at Lady Sri Ram College in Delhi and after I graduated, I worked in event management, marketing and public relations for four years. It was when I moved to England to study at the University of Arts that everything changed. I was hugely enthused by the diversity and dynamism of the art scene, the calendar was bursting with exhibitions, cultural programmes and fairs and I began to realise the potential of arts in society. This got me thinking, why didn’t we have more of this back home?

That simple thought turned into an ambitious dream - to create a world-class art event in India. When we started, we only had four months to plan and execute the event. I didn’t know a soul in the arts fraternity here and that caused a lot of scepticism. There were many naysayers who told me that it was impossible to do something like this in India to an international standard but rather than being discouraged it motivated me to prove them wrong and create a world class arts event.

After the first edition of the art fair, people began to see the potential of what could be possible and they started to rally with us. Within a year, we had many key galleries and top artists participating and our partnerships began to grow. By the fifth edition we had 91 exhibitors showcasing over one thousand artists from twenty countries including many internationally renowned artists. From 10,000 visitors in the first edition, we had over 100,000 visitors in 2015. Today India Art Fair is a meeting point that provides a large canvas (20,000 square feet) for discussion, discovery, collaboration and commerce. It is a major national platform that exposes a wide range of Indian galleries and artists to international audiences, collectors and museum groups. Conversely it also provides international galleries with the opportunity to showcase their galleries and artists to the Indian community. This two-way exchange is echoed in the Speakers Forum where a comprehensive series of talks encourages cultural exchange, debate and discussion. India Art Fair also serves to unite the local art scene with a coordinated series of collateral events around Delhi during what is traditionally becoming known as the country’s busiest week in the cultural calendar.

However recognition and success has only meant greater responsibility. When I started out, ignorant of the art market and all of 28 years old, there weren’t any expectations of me. Now I can see the huge task that lies ahead. The challenge is to continue to build a vibrant platform for the arts in the region, remain fresh and relevant but also viable and profitable for our investors and participants. The main ethos of the fair is to encourage all visitors to find a way to connect with art. In the early years many visitors would simply take pictures of themselves in front of the works but now they talk to the gallerists about the work, they ask questions, they engage with the art in a different way, which is exactly what we want. I used to feel intimidated walking into art galleries, for me the art world was removed, something apart from everyday life. India Art Fair was created in part for people like me, to break down existing barriers and make art accessible for wider audiences. Working in the arts is a hugely enriching experience and I would like to bring art into more and more people’s lives.

Today the fair continues to provide a platform for artists and galleries from the region as well as internationally to present their art in India. We are currently the largest showcase of Indian art in the world and we hope to build on our experience to provide high quality gallery presentations and programmes throughout the fair to engage the huge variety of visitors the fair attracts.

The next edition of India Art Fair is scheduled in Delhi from 28th to 31st January 2016.

About NehaKirpal

NehaKirpal is the Founder of India Art Fair, an annual modern and contemporary art fair held in New Delhi. Founded in 2008, the fair is India's largest and most popular art exhibit attracting upwards of 80,000 visitors across 4 days of the event, as recorded in 2015.

Twitter- @NehaKirpal1

(The story has been extracted from BW APPLAUSE)

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