How I Live My Best Life: Jagdip Jagpal, Director, India Art Fair


How I Live My Best Life: Jagdip Jagpal, Director, India Art Fair

“Never let the trolls bring you down”

By Subhanjana Das  May 4th, 2020

In 2018, one of the country’s most notable art events, India Art fair, was directed, led by, and won accolades for representing the best of South Asian talents, making the fair one to reckon with even globally. The mastermind behind this, Jagdip Jagpal, fair director of India Art Fair, swept the art community with her extraordinary vision for the potential in India’s pool of artists.

Here’s how she gears herself up on days leading to India Art fair:

On a typical day:
I am up by 5am. I work for about two hours before getting to the India Art Fair offices in Saket, New Delhi. Sometimes, if I have 30 minutes to spare, I watch MasterChef Australia or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, two shows that I absolutely adore. At work, daily stand-up meetings help us prioritise and lead us into a productive day, which more often than not, concludes with a visit to an exhibition or event taking place in a gallery, museum or an alternative arts venue. Whenever I can, I make a trip to the Faqir Chand Bookstore in Khan Market to pick up the latest reads.

On prepping for the India Art Fair week:
The India Art Fair week is complete madness. Things that help me calm my nerves and focus: 1) Skyping with mum, 2) A quick visit to the hair salon and the dry cleaners, 3) Listening to my favourite music from the 70s and 80s, 4) Polishing my boots. I like to run my own errands and polishing my boots reminds me of childhood in London. My dad used to insist that we be disciplined and prepare for school the evening before, although sometimes I used to get lazy about polishing my shoes and have him do it for me instead!

On the best thing about being the director of India Art Fair:
I get to meet a lot of talented artists and see a lot of art in India and around the world–it is a real privilege to be able to do so.

 

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On her favourite art forms:
I love oil paintings: portraits and landscapes. I also enjoy performance art. It is a medium of expression which appeals to audiences of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

On her idols:
The first on the list is my dad. Growing up in the United Kingdom, I looked up to Muhammad Ali, Sunil Gavaskar and Precious McKenzie who were some of the few non-white faces we saw on TV. Musicians Mahalia Jackson, Laura Nyro, Rickie Lee Jones and Tracey Thorn also had a big influence on me during my teenage years, as did lieutenant Columbo, chief inspector Ironside and captain Raymond Holt who played lead detectives in sitcoms.

In recent years, I have been very lucky to know genius contemporary artists Olafur Eliasson, Yinka Shonibare and Madhvi Parekh who I consider my idols, and I hope to meet Stan Douglas one day. When in doubt, I turn to Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez whose literary works continue to inspire me in daily life.

On the career advice that has stayed with her:

Always have a plan. If you don’t, stop and make one.

On her favourite city in the world to travel to:

Edinburgh; I have always felt happy there!

On the social issues that are closest to her heart:

Racism and poverty are two issues I strongly feel about.

On dabbling in art:

I like to indulge in a little bit of DIY now and then. We held free art workshops at the India Art Fair Studio in DLF Avenue Saket this February, and I couldn’t help but join the participants in making everything from collages to simple line drawings using just paper, pen and stencils.

On a habit she wishes to change:

Hoarding. I have the habit of keeping every piece of scrap paper that I find at art exhibitions, from invitations to brochures, pamphlets, fold-outs and what not.