The Art Mart
Annurag Sharma, and Johny ML have brought unnoticed art to the masses. Can they sustain it as a truly democratic model? ARADHNA WAL finds out
IGHLY ANTICIPATED and massively scaled, the United Art Fair ( UAF) began on the wrong foot. On 27 September, at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, well-heeled guests were wandering around slightly lost. Almost 600 works of art had been displayed without the artists’ names. The harried organising team muttered something about mismanagement. Curator Johny ML had an explanation at hand: “I don’t want people to look for established names. Let them stumble across works that please or surprise them.” Founder Annurag Sharma concurred, “I want people to form an emotional attachment to works they like, not look for artists they know of.”
UAF’s first edition pegged itself on the democratisation of contemporary Indian art since its inception, calling itself the world’s first “artist-
Hthe space like a mini-city. The maze-like-streets were named after great artists of yore, such as Rabindranath Tagore Street and Amrita Sher-Gil Street. Turn left, you were confronted by Gandhi depicted in a series of modern landscapes; turn right and there were photographs of ants crawling over naked human bodies.