Indian art in the spotlight at Beirut Art Fair 2014

The Beirut Art Fair 2014 will feature an Indian Pavilion inspired by a fascination with small artworks.

The Beirut Art Fair focuses on countries of the ME.NA.SA region. This year, the fair’s programme will include a video and design section, and will introduce an Indian Pavilion with an exhibition of small format works by Indian artists.

Map of the ME.NA.SA region. Image courtesy Beirut Art Fair.

Map of the ME.NA.SA region. Image courtesy Beirut Art Fair.

The fifth edition of the Beirut Art Fair (BAF) will take place from 18 to 21 September 2014 at the Beirut International Exhibition Leisure Center (BIEL). The fair will host around fifty art and design galleries from around the world, expecting to attract 20,000 visitors and generate sales of around USD3 million.

Co-founded and co-directed by French art historian Laure d’Hauteville and ME.NA.SA arts specialist Pascal Odille in 2010, the Beirut Art Fair focuses on countries from the ME.NA.SA region (Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia). From 27 to 30 November 2014, the fair will inaugurate a new edition in Singapore.

Vibha Galhotra, 'ABSENCE PRESENCE (Homage to our missing neighbours)', 2011, metal and digital prints on archival paper, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Vibha Galhotra, ‘ABSENCE PRESENCE (Homage to our missing neighbours)’, 2011, metal and digital prints on archival paper, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Small artworks at the first India Pavilion

This year, the fair directors invited French independent critic and curator Fabrice Bousteau to launch the India Pavilion. Entitled “Small Art is Beautiful – Dharma”, the exhibition will feature small-format works by Indian artists.

In an interview with Executive Magazine, Bousteau revealed that his fascination with India and its art and cultural tradition was born fifteen years ago, during his first visit to the country. Bousteau’s regular trips to India eventually culminated in his 2011 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, entitled “Paris–Delhi–Bombay”.

The limited budget for the Beirut Art Fair 2014 contributed to determining the types of works that the curator could ship to Beirut, resulting in the choice to focus on small-scale works. The exhibition explores the symbolic, conceptual, aesthetic, economic and strategic dimensions of small art. In the above mentioned interview, Bousteau also said that the small works represent a “mini India with all of its richness and diversity.”

Shilpa Gupta, 'Threat', 2008-09, soaps, interactive Installation, 5, 9 x 2, 5 x 1, 6 in each soap. Image courtesy the artist.

Shilpa Gupta, ‘Threat’, 2008-09, soaps, interactive installation, 5.9 x 2.5 x 1.6 inches (each soap). Image courtesy the artist.

Including works by well-known artists such as Shilpa Gupta and emerging artists, the Indian art exhibition centres around the concept of Dharma (cosmic law and order), which is at the heart of the microcosm that links living beings to the macrocosm. Big and small are balanced in their interactions, and the Dharma wheel is the solar symbol that guarantees stability and continuity. This philosophy explains how the size of an object is not proportional to its impact.

In the BAF press kit (pdf download), Bousteau said:

The exhibition presents, through a selection of small format works, the transformations of an artistic scene which is constantly growing, changing and evolving, expressive and lively, strong and fragile, active particle and constituent power of the world of contemporary art at the same time.

Video and design programmes

The 2014 edition of the fair will present a Video Projects section, similar to Art Basel’s Film sector. The sector will be curated by Silke Schmickl, Co-Founding Director of Lowave, a Paris-based moving image research and curatorial platform. This year, the video programme is themed “Body Politics” and features a series of art films from the ME.NA.SA region.

In addition, the fair will feature the BLC Design Platform for the second consecutive year. Curated by art critic and curator Jérôme Sans, the platform will include Lebanese and international designers.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia


Related Topics: art fairs, Indian artists, South Asian art, Southeast Asian art, North African art, Middle Eastern art, art films, design, events in Beirut

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