India Art Fair postpones event to 2022 as Delhi imposes restrictions to curb Omicron variant

India Art Fair (IAF) has announced that it will postpone its 2022 event in New Delhi, postponing it from February 3-6 to April 28 to May 1. The move follows restrictions issued by the Indian government on Tuesday as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreads across the country and the number of cases reaches its highest rate since early June, when India experienced a second devastating wave of infections.

Delhi is particularly affected by these restrictions, having received a yellow alert banning cultural festivals and business-to-business exhibitions, in which the fair is classified. The alert also closed schools, while forcing museums and non-essential stores, including shopping malls, to operate at reduced capacity.

At the start of the month, 75 galleries and institutions plan to exhibit at IAF 2022. This is slightly down from the 81 who attended IAF 2020, the last physical edition of the fair, which took place shortly before the onset of the global pandemic.

So far, all 75 attendees have accepted the decision to postpone the show, and IAF Director Jaya Asokan said she had received “unhindered support from all exhibitors and partners.” Asokan was appointed to run the fair last year; this edition will be the first under his direction.

However, the number of participating international galleries is significantly lower this year compared to 2020, dropping from 11 to four. David Zwirner, who has participated in previous editions, will not return this year because he “slightly reduces the number of art fairs in which he participates in 2022”, according to the director of the gallery James Green. However, he adds that David Zwirner intends to return to the IAF for its 2023 edition.

International galleries that will still participate in the rescheduled event include Neugerriemschneider (Berlin) and Grosvenor Gallery (London). They will be joined by several of India’s largest galleries, including Chemould Prescott Road, Nature Morte and Chatterjee & Lal, as well as emerging spaces such as Exhibit320 (New Delhi) and Apre Art House (Mumbai).

A number of non-commercial organizations that have been forced to cancel their 2021 events will also be present at the fair, including the Serendipity Arts Foundation and the Kochi-Muziris Biennial Foundation.

India has reported 13,154 new cases of Covid and 268 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country’s Omicron tally rose to 961, according to government data. Restrictions have also been enforced in Mumbai, where Mumbai Gallery Weekend is currently scheduled for January 13-16.

James C. Tibbs