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A panoramic view of Indian art at ARCO Madrid 2009
Panorama: India curated by renowned artist-curator Bose Krishnamachari offered a fascinating overview of contemporary Indian art at ARCO Madrid. In its endeavor to lend attention to emerging markets, the prestigious art fair this time focused on India.

Panorama: India proved to be the perfect platform for promoting the best of contemporary art from the country to international audiences. Elaborating on the broad motive and beauty of Indian art, a release stated: “For many decades, rather many centuries, India’s millenarian culture has indeed captured the imagination of the west. The country’s aesthetic, the color and magic exert a constant fascination. And its contemporary art is no exception to this. In recent years, it is becoming a noteworthy phenomenon internationally.

“In recent times, India has emerged as the happening destination star in the global art market. Its booming economy, the appreciating value and quality of its artists and the significant rise of private collectors, make the country one of the most promising and prestigious focal points for contemporary art market in the 21st century. Local artists are getting noticed and are increasingly in demand in international auctions. The gallery scene is also witnessing a boom in recent years, with new galleries coming up in different metros apart from the leading art centers including New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. The spectrum of this spectacular rise got represented and reflected in Panorama: India.”

ARCO Madrid was founded by IFEMA in 1982 for promoting the budding and established art houses across Spain, the birthplace of legends such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Francisco Jose De Goya and Joan Miro. Chairman of the Madrid trade fair authority, the Institucin Ferial de Madrid (IFEMA), Luis Eduardo Cortés, revealed that they chose India as the special invitee in 2009 owing to its rich cultural and political history.

According to him, the idea also was to open up new, vibrant linkages between the two countries for enhanced cultural exchange. He added: “Indian contemporary art is doing extremely well. Europeans are attracted to it. The market for Indian art is growing (fast), unlike western art that already has a steady market.”

The focus on India at the prestigious international contemporary art fair was divided into two sections. Galleries section featured prestigious galleries from the country. There was an exhibition curated by Bose Krishnamachari. The idea was to showcase the expanding breadth and wealth of artistic creation from India.

Two key names on current Indian art scene were instrumental in collating this ambitious project. On one hand, the curator of Panorama: India, Bose Krishnamachari, gave collectors and investors an overview of India’s art scene with an interesting selection of the country’s leading galleries and artists. On the other hand, Shaheen Merali rounded off the spotlight on India with a series of elaborate exhibitions, film seasons and events at major museums and art centers in Madrid that put the spotlight firmly on Indian art. The intent was to assist European collectors and investors get an insight into the contemporary Indian art.

Representing roughly a dozen galleries and the works of close to 50 Indian artists, including M. F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, Shilpa Gupta, Ganesh Pyne, Abir Karmakar, Kanishka Raja, Manish Nai, Surendran Nair, Riyas Komu, Sunil Gawde, Rekha Rodwittiya, Valay Shende, Jitish Kallat, Vishnu Villas, Anandjit Ray, Chintan Upadhyay and Manjunath Kamath among others, ARCO Madrid provided the visitors with a kaleidoscopic view of Indian art.

Elaborating on the process of selection of galleries for ARCO project, Bose Krishnamachari mentioned in an interview to art critic Uma Nair that the practice of galleries other than holding art exhibitions; slides shows; video performances; digital innovations; artist-in-residence programs, and other the interesting activities designed around artists were the criteria for his choice of galleries.

He added: “I think I looked for a new set of experiments – curated programs and novel explorations. I was primarily looking at a representation, which celebrates and offers insight into different viewpoints of approaching art. I was also looking at good projects, which had substance and were well researched. I wanted to have a small, albeit cohesive focus.” According to him, diversity was the most distinctive feature the way all these galleries came together.