A year ago, Sunaina Anand, director of Art Alive Gallery, booked Bikaner House in Delhi for an art exhibition. In light of the rising COVID cases in the Capital, the tripartite exhibition that features the works of Sakti Burman, Maite Delteil, and their daughter Maya Burman took place on 13th – 22nd January, has been postponed.
The show was planned months in advance, assuming things would have calmed down by now, but who would have thought this would happen. “We are prepared for the art exhibition, but due to the rising number of cases, the space has been closed. We’ll reschedule it as soon as we receive new directives from the government,” says Anand.
Several major art exhibitions in the Capital are being postponed due to the growing number of COVID cases, even though private galleries are still allowed to operate. “We are open, but people are hesitant to visit galleries at a time like now,” says Renu Modi, director of Gallery Espace. She had a successful opening for her last show in the gallery in the first week of December.
Still, given the current situation in Delhi, she has decided to postpone the solo art exhibition of Manisha Gera Baswani. This is not fair to the work; very few people will visit. It is most likely that the gallery will open in April,” says Modi.
As several exhibitions of prominent artists opened in Delhi during the fourth quarter of 2021, the already economically stricken art industry is being cautious, with a third wave beginning in India. The India Art Fair (IAF), one of the critical events in the country’s cultural calendar, has been postponed from February to April (April 28-May 1).
Jaya Asokan, IAF director, stated, “Everything else remains the same: the venue, fantastic art, and a huge (and safe) celebration of culture. “Even though the situation is unpredictable, but the India Art Fair team, with the support of our artists, exhibitors and partners, is prepared to deliver a fair that is as dynamic and fresh as ever, in April.”
The exhibition of Subodh Gupta, which was scheduled for January at the Nature Morte gallery, has been postponed. Likewise, Ravinder Dutt’s collection of Mythos and the Historian, planned for Bikaner House, will now take place later this year. Art Ichol’s exhibition of Narayan Sinha, which was initially scheduled for January 27 at India Habitat Centre, has also been postponed.
As an artist, planning is complex. There is so much uncertainty and the feeling of being unsettled. A good artist needs to be spiritually connected, which is difficult in these times. Human touch is essential to understanding an artwork. Sinha had a solo show in Kolkata last year. “I felt it was important to celebrate life after the second wave. Human beings may think that they are progressing, but nature has become so distant from us.”
However, Renu Modi notes that although the physical viewing of art cannot be replaced by online viewing, connoisseurs seem to have adapted to the digital model in terms of sales. “There is a sale of artwork happening, and I feel the hybrid model will endure going forward,” she adds.