New Delhi, Sep 7 The art trail in and around Delhi is buzzing with exhibitions, live installations and face-to-face with artists to woo visitors to next month's Commonwealth Games. Like its counterparts in Madrid, Rome and Paris, the circuit is home to nearly 250 art studios that come alive especially in autumn and winter.
Lado Sarai, the Hauz Khas Artists' Village, Garhi Artist Village, the Lalit Kala Akademi, India Habitat Centre, the Epicentre Cultural Complex in Gurgaon, the Devi Art Foundation (Gurgaon) and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Noida and nearly a dozen high-end art houses form the artery of Delhi's emerging art tourism trail.
Barely 10 km off the commercial heart of the capital, Connaught Place, lies the heritage village of Lado Sarai near the Qutab Minar Archaeological complex in south Delhi.
Once a rundown cluster of houses, Lado Sarai is now a haute address of contemporary art hosting 20 trendy art studios, vends and boutiques on a half-a-kilometre stretch. Each of these studios is planning a special exhibition to coincide with the Commonwealth Games on October 3-14.
The focal point of the autumn art tourism trail beginning late September is an exhibition "Art Celebrates 2010 Commonwealth Games" at the Lalit Kala Akademi.
The show, curated by Rupika Chawla, will open on October 1.
A collaboration between the government-run Akademi and 12 leading galleries in the capital, the exhibition will display 120 works by 100 artists. Each gallery will exhibit 10 artists. The exhibits will be themed on the artists' perception of the Commonwealth Games, Chawla said.
The works will be exhibited as "light boxes" at strategic public places to raise awareness about art and the Commonwealth Games.
"My list of exhibits for the Commonwealth exhibition includes artists like Kishen Khanna, Jogen Chowdhury, Anjolie Ela Menon, Paresh Maity and Yusuf Arakkal," Sunaina Anand, director of the Art Alive Gallery, said.
"The schedule is busy because the gallery will simultaneously host works by veteran ceramic artist P.R. Daroz till October15 to fit into the Games schedule."
Located in Panchsheel Enclave, the gallery has become an art tourism destination in the last two years.
"We have been receiving foreign tourists since 2008. They enquire about our gallery on the web and book dates. Contemporary Indian art is becoming a major draw on the domestic tourism map," she said.
Curator Nidhi Jain, who manages Gallery Ragini, a boutique space in Lado Sarai village, is conceiving "Creating Commonwealth", an exhibition dedicated to the legacy and spirit of the Commonwealth Games in her gallery.
The exhibition is divided into two segments. "The first section will feature heirlooms ó works by artists that will become top grosser in prices and investment value in the next decade," Jain said.
The second segment will feature artists from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Britain and Australia. "Their art will reflect the spirit of the Commonwealth and the colonial legacy," Jain said.
One of the capital's leading family-owned art houses, the Vadehra Gallery, will exhibit works by artists like Rameshwar Broota, Ramkumar, Atul Dodiya, Arpita Singh and Sunil Gupta at the Commonwealth group show.
"At the same time, Delhi-based sculptor Sumedh Rajendran will exhibit solo in our gallery space at Okhla from September 23-October 23," Parul Vadehra of the Vadehra Gallery said.
Art tourism was a viable option in the capital, Vadehra said. "When tourists come to Delhi, they look at the capital's ancient cultural heritage. Contemporary art is the capital's modern cultural heritage," she said.
The Vadehra Gallery has been hosting guided art tours for art lovers and children under its Foundation for Indian Contemporary programme.
The Religare Art Initiative, a capital-based arts promotion platform, is working on a art and culture itinerary for inbound tourists that will be unveiled later this year.
"It will comprise visitors' interaction with artists, writers, collectors, gallerists and tours of exhibitions in Delhi, Mumbai and in one of the southern metropolitan cities," Mukesh Panika, director of the Religare Art, said.
Panika was inspired by the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art in New York) Junior Associate tour to India two years ago. "They took 20 tourists on an art and culture familiarisation trip across India," he said.
Renu Modi of Gallery Espace, one of the participating galleries in the Commonwealth art show, has been receiving foreign tourists to her gallery in small groups for the past few years. "Their number has been increasing," Modi said.
The gallery, situated in the upscale New Friends Colony, will present light installations by artist Vishal Dar during the Commonwealth Games, keeping the foreign arrivals in mind.
Aparajita Jain of the Seven Arts Gallery, however, felt that "Delhi required better infrastructure to lend art tourism an organised model."
"However, all galleries would support a government-sponsored art walk," Jain said.