The four-day fair at the Pragati Maidan concluded on Tuesday. The artist-driven fair is based on the concept of interacting directly with buyers, hence getting rid of the middleman - or art galleries - in the process. It provides a space to display to budding creative talents field like art and photography.

Connecticut-born Peter Nagy, now based in Delhi, was the fair's artistic director. He along with art historian Alka Pande, photographer Ram Rahman, critic Meera Menezes, curator and critic Heidi Fichtner and writer and curator Mayank Kaul handpicked 284 artists from India and abroad for the annual event.

"The most surprising thing was that we have seen great footfalls, and people from diverse backgrounds have visited the fair. But no one seems to be interested in buying," fair director Anurag Sharma said.

"People are hesitant; perhaps it is economic downturn that is pushing the buyer back. I am clueless. There are very limited sales."

Sharma said less than 10 percent of works have been booked by buyers. The art works on display were worth Rs.25 million, out of which only Rs.1.5 million were converted into potential sales.

"We have taken token amount from the buyer, which is 10 percent of the actual amount. If they cancel the deal, the numbers of the sale will go down automatically," Sharma said. "To lure more buyers, we even offered discounts, but nothing worked," he added.

Of the artists who managed to sell their works are Sharad Kale, Germany-based artist Peter Ruehle, Nishant Shukla and Tauseef Khan. Desginer-artist Nitin Bal Chauhan, who had also displayed his works, said: "There have been a few queries but nothing has turned into sale."

Sharma said that there was no point investing so much money if at the end of the day it is a flop show, "We also heard that some of the artists told buyers to meet them after the fair so that they can sell the works directly to them," he added.

An artist keeps 60 percent of the sale money and rest goes to the fair fund. "We haven't been taking money from them because they are emerging artists. But then what all is happening isn't good for the fair," Sharma said.

Sharma was still optimistic about winds changing in his favour. "These are initial struggles, I hope. Once our property is established, things will be smooth," he hoped.


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