Imagine 10,000 sq ft dedicated to art. Next,imagine two sister galleries one for sculpture and the other for painting. Then imagine a cafe and three plush rest areas for visiting artists. Imagine a 10,000-sq ft basement to store art and an auditorium to seat 100 people. Now,open your eyes and look at a construction site at Bandra Reclamation a dream being brought to reality by Bombay Art Society all set to be the newest and finest address for art in the city.
In a city where space has always been an issue,it has taken almost seven years for this idea to turn into an edifice. In 1989,when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi came down for the centenary of the Bombay Art Society,art historian Dr Saryu Doshi and painter Prafulla Dhanukar,a prominent member of the society,had lobbied for it. It was at the Timeless Art Auction held on the Jawahar Ship that Sharad Pawar announced that the Maharashtra government will donate land in Bandra Reclamation to the project, says Doshi who was the vice-chairperson of the society. Though Prafulla and I got the land,we could not develop the land then since the society was a charitable trust and we had no funds.
After 20 years,the society has roped in Drushti Engineers and Developers to undertake the project. The builders will get 49 per cent of the building and the remaining 51 per cent will belong to the Bombay Art Society, says treasurer Chanrajeet Yadav. The architect,Sanjay Puri,has come up with a sketch.
A photograph of the conceptual design reveals this is indeed a unique structure. The building is like a giant sculpture and difficult to construct. It has curvatures and as it grows vertically,it will have to be shaped by a mould weve created. The exterior aesthetic will set a benchmark in architectural types, says Ashok Jagdale,creative head,Drushti. The structure is likely to be completed by April 2010.
The art centre,yet to be named,will be open to all and 3,000 members of Bombay Art Society,and these include eminent artists like M F Husain,Akbar Padamsee and Jehangir Sabavala,to name a few.
Currently,it takes years to get into the queue for showing at Jehangir Art Gallery. With this new space,artists will have yet another venue. It all depends how they run it,one just hopes the space is in good hands, says Padamsee. An art centre will always help and we must look at things positively.