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The must-see, must-do at India Art Fair, New Delhi this week

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Here is how you can plan to make the most of the annual festival that is a must-visit for art aficionados around the country

Starting this week, New Delhi will come alive as artists, collectors, curators and enthusiasts from all over the country descend on the capital for the India Art Fair (IAF). This year the fair features a slate of India’s best-known art galleries alongside a host of new names from around the world. In addition, there are also events and shows spread across Delhi to allow visitors to explore the city while they explore the art.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about the planning, here is how we think you can spend your time best:
1.    Seek out the international galleries
German art dealer David Zwirner who showcased works by Japanese pop-art favourite Yayoi Kusama (among others) last year, is back with more works by her along with Fred Sandback, Oscar Murillo and Sherri Levine. There are also newcomers neugerriemschneider (the Berlin-based gallery represents Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson) and Kyoto’s Sokyo Gallery. The wide selection should please those who are looking to see works from a stable of repute, without having to take an international flight. On the list of global galleries also taking part are Blain | Southern, 1X1 Art Gallery and Aicon Gallery.

2.    Take in a talk or two
There’s a whole roster of talks to choose from, but the ones we’re angling to attend include British artist Idris Khan’s and local favourite Jitesh Kallat’s session. Khan, who is known for combining layered imagery with text, numbers, geometric shapes and is making his debut at IAF, has recently completed a site-specific piece for the British Musuem titled 21 Stones. Meanwhile, Kallat is scheduled to speak with documenta 14 curator Adam Szymczyk about his multimedia works that have been displayed at Tate Modern, UK and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. Throughout the event there’s a full roster of speakers from across the art world, so those who want to do more than just look at art will no doubt be able to stay engaged.

3.    Get a glimpse of David Hockney’s Art Car
An influential name in the pop art movement, British artist David Hockney sold Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) at Christie’s last November for over $90 million - the most expensive work of art sold at an auction by a living artist. At the fair this year, sponsor BMW will be displaying the Art Car that Hockney painted for the brand in 1995, besides a conversation with Edith Devaney. She is a curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and friend of the celebrated artist – we are expecting a fascinating session.

4.    Check out some great photography
Photography lovers should plan strategically because there is a lot you will want to see - including photographers Wolfgang Tillmans will showcase the talented Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, Sooni 

Sponsor BMW is displaying the Art Car that David Hockney painted for the brand in 1995. Image courtesy, BMW

Taraporevala and Ketaki Sheth. Though we’re looking forward to the session with Sohrab Hura, India’s second photographer to work with Magnum Photos and Artistic Director of the Chennai Photo Biennale, Pushpamala N. A post-apocalyptic look at the world, Ronny Sen will be showing his works from Jharia, a coal mining town in Jharkhand, where the underground coalfield fire has been burning for a century. Another must-do is the book signing by Bharat Sikka for Where the Flowers Still Grow, which showcases his recent body of work from Kashmir.

5.    Explore the city with IAF Parallel
IAF Parallel has a series of shows that will be ongoing throughout New Delhi, to enable visitors to discover some of the capital’s cultural hotspots. Bharti Kher’s solo show at Bikaner House promises to be a treat, not only for her art, but also for the gorgeously restored building that will house and display it. The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art will play host to an Arpita Singh show, while Thukral and Tagra’s wry art will be on display at STIR Gallery. The Italian Embassy is also getting in on the action with a show of contemporary artists, while the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) has planned exhibitions at the Indira Gandhi National Centre of the Arts (IGNCA).

The India Art Fair will be running from January 31 to Feb 3 at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds, Okhla, New Delhi. Find more information here

Aatish Nath is a freelance writer based in Mumbai. He's writes about culture, food and travel.

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