MCH Group Enters India
By Brady Ng
The Swiss holding company MCH Group, owner of Art Basel, has acquired partial ownership of the India Art Fair (IAF), in partnership with London-based Angus Montgomery (the company of Sandy Angus, founder of Art Hong Kong, Istanbul’s ArtInternational and London’s Art16) and IAF founding director Neha Kirpal.
Held annually in New Delhi, IAF is the leading art fair in South Asia. Its debut in 2008 drew over 6,000 visitors with 34 exhibiting galleries. Since then, the fair has rapidly gained popularity. IAF was declared a “temporary museum” by the country’s Ministry of Culture in 2011 in order to promote the domestic art market. The 2012 edition featured 89 exhibitors and work by artists from some 20 countries, including Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst and Marina Abramović. For its 2015 edition, the fair saw 80,000 visitors, and sales were reportedly 25 percent stronger than the previous year.
For its 2016 edition in January, IAF will continue to sharpen its focus—the number of participating galleries for IAF’s 2016 edition was curtailed in order to garner stronger interest in the region’s cultural ecosystem. IAF this year also kicked off with news of a three-year partnership with BMW and the launch of a series of awards by the media conglomerate India Today Group.
However, more notable were the fair’s new exhibitor programs. “Institutional” featured renowned international and Indian museums and foundations, including London’s Delfina Foundation, Mumbai’s Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art from New Delhi, where they presented elements of upcoming shows. “Platform” presented emerging art and practice from South Asia that have never been exhibited at an art fair, including the Nepal Art Council, Theertha Artists Collective and Swaraj Art Archive.
Masud said the fair would continue to collaborate with galleries that can showcase large-scale sculptures or site-specific installations in the future. In particular, the fair’s programming will continue to explore India’s cultural relationship with the broader South Asian region.
In an email exchange with ArtAsiaPacific, Kirpal said, "The India Art Fair sees itself as an increasingly strong regional art fair, and a commercial platform that supports emerging artists and exciting art practice not just from India, but the entire South Asia region. It is an opportune moment for global partners like MCH Group, who support this strategy, to build on this offering from the region, internationalising both India and the South Asia region."
MCH is currently building a new portfolio of regional art fairs to diversify its product portfolio and reach a broader international audience. By acquiring co-ownership of IAF, the group will enter a new market segment in South Asia.
The next India Art Fair will be held from February 2 to 5, 2017.
Brady Ng is Hong Kong desk editor at ArtAsiaPacific.