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Sell art for art’s sake
- Sunday auction proceeds for major Bengal museum

A clearer picture of the state of visual art in this state, and specifically this city, will emerge on Sunday afternoon, when chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee presides over an auction of paintings at The Oberoi Grand.

Its proceeds will go towards setting up the Kolkata Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, KMOMA in short, on a 10-acre plot in Rajarhat, along the six-track highway, about five to 10 minutes from the airport.

The state government along with senior artists and patrons of art have long been planning to establish what is sadly lacking in a city that still enjoys the reputation of being the country’s cultural capital — a museum where the art of Bengal will be represented.

An earlier effort to open a chapter of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Calcutta never bore fruit. The city is in dire need of space where the creations of the Tagore family can be preserved.

Speculation on the nature of KMOMA will be laid to rest on Sunday when the chief minister and mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, who will also be present at the auction, make some major announcements, particularly on funding. The guests include intellectuals, artists, film folk, captains of industry and consular heads.

Funding is expected from the central government, corporate sector, international funding agencies, NRIs, foreign governments and their subsidiaries, like British Council and Max Mueller Bhavan.

About 20 works, including the creations of both senior and younger artists, will go under the hammer. Some of the artists are Paritosh Sen, Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Chowdhury (who has contributed two large works), Aditya Basak, Paresh Maity, Ramlal Dhar, Ashis and Debashis Kabasi, Ashok Mullick, Ashoke Bhowmik and Shuvaprasanna. The sculptors whose works will be auctioned are Niranjan Pradhan, Uma Siddhanto and Shyamal Roy.

Sen’s is a large drawing of a boy holding a pigeon. A mysterious woman appears in Pyne’s drawing on graph paper. Sinuous lines define Chowdhury’s two women. Some of the artists have donated fully; some partially. Derek O’Brien will conduct the auction.

McKinsey has prepared KMOMA’s feasibility report and the structural module free. Ranjit Pandit, who heads McKinsey’s Indian division, oversaw the project.

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