Vernacular spectacular: Craft goes mainstream at India Art Fair | By Neelam Raaji Times of India
NEW DELHI: It’s pretty rare to see Gond and Madhubani paintings rub noses with the Subodh Guptas and Manjit Bawas. It’s even stranger when the setting is the India Art Fair, where commerce takes precedence over culture.
Tribal, folk, naive or native art — all labels that art historians now vehemently oppose — is usually to be found in craft museums, trade fairs or Dilli Haat. Most contemporary art shows give it a wide berth. At best, you get the odd work hung in the name of “inclusion”.
But with the India Art Fair, once considered a scrappy upstart, becoming more confident of its place on the global art map, it’s decided to not only represent work from across South Asia but also widen the definition of contemporary Indian art to include vernacular art.
At the ‘Vernacular in Flux’ section curated by art historian Annapurna Garimella hang some of the best names in Gond, Mithila and Guruvayoor art. “I feel the term vernacular is more apt as it signifies a traditional art language without the limitations that terms like folk, tribal or native have,” says Garimella, who has borrowed works of artists like Gond’s Bhajju Shyam and Mithila’s Baua Devi from noted private collections.
“Galleries are beginning to put serious consideration into becoming more diverse,” says Garimella. But her worry, shared by many, is that if the market dries up, commitment might dry up with it.