Some of the more memorable art festivals in 2017 introduced viewers to new idioms: brave creative experiments with mediums, materials and styles. The coming year, too, promises to continue that legacy of promoting originality and freshness in the visual arts. 

Among the highlights of the year ahead is an event scheduled to take place in February. To be hosted at Delhi’s NSIC Grounds, Okhla, from 9-12 February, the India Art Fair is sure to attract art lovers from across the globe. Over the years, it has become the finest platform for art appreciators, allowing them an opportunity to come face to face with some stellar works by modern and contemporary artists.

For this tenth edition of the India Art Fair, the festival organisers are setting the stage for leading international and Indian participants. These include galleries like David Zwirner (London/New York/Hong Kong), Blain Southern (London/Berlin), Sabrina Amrani (Madrid), and Aicon Gallery (New York). There are Indian galleries as well—like Chatterjee & Lal, Jhaveri Contemporary and Chemould Prescott Road (all from Mumbai); Experimenter (Kolkata); GALLERYSKE (Bengaluru/New Delhi); Vadehra Art Gallery, Gallery Espace and Art Heritage (all from New Delhi). Overall, the fair will feature 78 galleries from 18 countries. 

February is also the month for the legendary Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai. The 2018 edition will be held from 3-11 February. According to the organisers, the entire schedule of the festival will be uploaded on the official Kala Ghoda website around 20 January. And like every year, the coming edition, too, will feature a range of exhibitions and activities, focusing not just on visual arts, but also on dance, music and literature. 

Another festival that has come to be known for its eclectic range of interests is Sensorium, an annual festival of art, literature, music and cinema, which will be hosted at the Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for the Arts from 19 January to 1 March 2018. Founded by Raj Salgaocar and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi (also Sunaparanta’s Honourary Director), the festival’s upcoming edition, its third, is themed around “The End is Only the Beginning”.

Sensorium has been styled as a festival of ideas. In keeping with this year’s theme, the overall event will be an exploration of how the apparent conclusions in our life, such as the end of a relationship, the betrayal of faith and so on, can lead us to some new beginnings. “The End is Only the Beginning” is all about conclusions turning into continuations.

“The festival is different from the last edition because the present theme looks at how conclusions begin commencements, and how what we perceive as the end actually are starting points for us,” says Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. “To help us realise this idea we have the support and vision of over 30 national and international artists who have come to us thanks to the participation of blue-chip galleries. Plus we have always envisioned being ‘small but serious’. So ours is definitely not a  tamasha festival.”

Sensorium will showcase a range of Indian and international contemporary visual artists, some emerging, other museum level stars from Indian galleries. 

Sensorium has been styled as a festival of ideas. In keeping with this year’s theme, the overall event will be an exploration of how the apparent conclusions in our life, such as the end of a relationship, the betrayal of faith and so on, can lead us to some new beginnings. “The End is Only the Beginning” is all about conclusions turning into continuations.
The venue of the festival, the Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for the Arts, will once again come alive with installations, sculptures, paintings, videos, mixed-media works, site-specific interventions by some of the world’s most celebrated Indian and international artists, such as Jitish Kallat, Sohrab Hura Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi, Kaushik Chakravartty, Yamini Nayar Michael Müller, Riyas Komu, and Sujith S.N. among others.

At Sensorium one would be able to witness a wide range of side events, including lectures, electronic music performances, jazz concerts, film festivals, workshops by well-known artists and writers such as Shilpa Gupta,  Reena Saini Kallat, Mithu Sen, Devdutt Patnaik, Lady Kishwar Desai. All events are free and open to the public. 

Founded and first organised by photographer Aquin Mathews in 2015, the Indian Photography Festival (IPF), Hyderabad has become one of the country’s leading cultural events. After three editions, the festival has continued to grow year on year in terms of both footfall and scale.

The Indian Memory Project, by Anusha Yadav at Sensorium festival, Sunaparanta Goa, 2014.

The IPF Hyderabad, which is an initiative of the Light Craft Foundation, in strategic partnership with the Minisitry of Tourism in Telangana, is an international photography festival. It is known for showcasing a wide range of photography across genres, from portraits and landscape through photojournalism to fine art, by emerging and legendary photographers from India and overseas. Without a doubt, the festival aims at congregating the greatest minds in the field of photography and at the same time establishing a global platform for learning through various events like featured exhibitions, panel discussions, debates and talks, portfolio reviews, photography workshops, open studios and book launches.   

“The 2017 edition of the festival featured the exhibits of 525 photographers from 40 countries,” says Mathews. “The 2018 edition which is tentatively scheduled to be held from  30 August to 30 September at the State Art Gallery, Hyderabad will be a much bigger IPF.”

A biennial exhibition on the best of contemporary international art, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) has emerged as a seminal event in the realm of art and culture. The fourth edition of the biennale will begin from 12 December 2018  and last till 29 March 2019.

Prominent artist Anita Dube is the curator for the upcoming KMB. Her selection by the Kochi Biennale Foundation was in keeping with the Biennale’s long-standing tradition of being an artist-led exhibition. Based out of the National Capital Region, Dube is renowned for her conceptually rich, politically charged works. An art historian and critic by training and a visual artist in practice, she has been widely exhibited across the Americas, Europe and Asia, including at the first edition of the KMB in 2012.

The biennale is organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, which came into being in 2010 and since then has been spearheaded by prominent artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu. This non-profit charitable trust engaged in promoting art and culture and educational activities in India, and it works round the year to strengthen contemporary art infrastructure and to broaden public access to art across the country. Major KMB programmes of 2018, along with groundbreaking exhibitions, include a series of talks, conferences, performances, educational initiatives and workshops.