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Art Reserve

The recently opened Leela Kempinski tells the story of Gurgaon in a unique way — under the staircase is a Bhupinder Singh brass installation in mustard yellow and green to represent the annual rabi and kharif crops of Gurgaon...

The recently opened Leela Kempinski tells the story of Gurgaon in a unique way — under the staircase is a Bhupinder Singh brass installation in mustard yellow and green to represent the annual rabi and kharif crops of Gurgaon,in the rooms are hung Raghu Rai photographs that chronicle the transformation of the satellite town from a rural hub to an urban metropolis and the reception area shows a Jeetendra Vyas installation that uses the tie-dye technique. The hotel has spent a whopping Rs six crore to build its collection and involved over hundred craftsmen and artists from across the country to create artwork for its interiors.

The Imperial might be reckoned as the museum hotel with its collection of British art on India and ITC Maurya is frequented by connoisseurs who marvel the Krishen Khanna mural in the lobby and works of masters like Tyeb Mehta,MF Husain and Akbar Padamsee,but new hotels in the Capital are also upbeat about building a formidable art collection.

“People who visit the hotel will learn about the surroundings through the collection,” says Rajeev Sethi,chairman of Asian Heritage Foundation that sourced artwork for Leela Kempinski,as Rajiv Kaul,senior vice president The Leela Palaces,Hotels and Resorts,adds,“The aim was to get quality art and each work adds value to the collection.”

While some hoteliers are visiting studios of young artists,others are sifting through museum artifacts to create reproductions. At Svelte Hotel and Personal Suites in Select Citywalk,the rooms and corridors have over 300 canvases inspired by European masters like Pablo Picasso,Henri Matisse and Joan Miro. “The style is similar but the feel is contemporary,” says art consultant Atul Bakshi who engaged 15 artists to paint the canvases at his studio in Vasant Kunj.

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Even at Hotel Janpat,the focus is on the young artists. The hotel,which is getting renovated,has dotted its corridors with works of painters who attended a camp held at the hotel last year. “Foreigners are often interested in Indian art. We have displayed the works in a manner that makes them visible from the road,” says Raji Khanna of Hotel Janpat.

Shanker Narayanan,general manager at The Claridges,Surajkund,points out that art is an asset that appreciates with the years. “Around two per cent of the hotel budget is usually reserved to procure art. The commissioned work is in tandem with the minimalist hotel architecture as well as with the rich heritage of the Surajkund,” says Narayanan. Two artworks by Narender Pal Singh flank the entrance; they depict the ritual sun worship while the business centre has Thota Vaikuntam serigraphs of Telangana women. Artist Reshmi Dey was flown to the UK to create the blow glass mural for the hotel lobby.

At Aman New Delhi,history is the focus of the collection. The spa entrance has reproductions of stone sculptures that are part of museum collections in Delhi,Kolkata and Berlin and near the stairs leading to the Aman restaurant,are hand-carved red sandstone window panels that have carvings similar to those at Red Fort,Delhi and Jaipur. “Subtle touches of India are incorporated throughout the resort with different artifacts. This includes dholpur statues,marble lotus basins and Mughal pillars,” says Antony Treston,general manager,Aman.

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Not all artwork is suitable for hotel space. “The factors taken into consideration include room size,décor and the vision of the hotel management,” says Bakshi. Will the slump in the economy affect the hotels’ art plans? Ishani Majumdar from ITC Group doesn’t think so. “Hotels get publicity when important visitors go there to see art. We have inquisitive guests who talk to us about colours used in paintings,motifs and historical themes,” she says. Time for an art expedition to the neighbourhood hotel?

First published on: 16-07-2009 at 12:19:07 am
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