This week, India has a rather unexpected art destination in the limelight: Chennai. From March 20th – 26th, the city will be animated by an influx of curators, artists, and collectors dashing from venue to venue. Twenty-two galleries will open twenty-seven shows in the first half of the week. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the festival will host a noteworthy lineup of speakers for panels organized around major categories of art world activity: “Collectors’ Corner,” “The Art Critic,” “The Curatorial Eye,” “The Art Market,” and “Artists in Conversation.” This ambitious schedule is the latest initiative on the part of hyper-active writer/curator/consultant Sharmista Ray, who is perhaps best known as managing director of Bodhi art from 2006 – 2010. The personalities billed to speak on each of the panels are generally strong voices from their respective fields, and promise to offer an excellent balance between a local and national perspective. This is a distinct strength, as Chennai is often underrepresented in major discussions of Indian contemporary art. The opening calendar and seminar series is complemented by an ambitiously curated video lounge and posh artists’ residency program. The lounge could serve as a sort of who’s who in Indian video art, though also peppered with a number of fresher names. The residency similarly features a fine balance of established and emerging figures—all hosted together by one of the event’s main sponsors, the Taj Hotel group. It looks like this week, at least, some of India’s top artists will be living in the lap of South Indian luxury.
-- Sophia Powers