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Thursday, June 12 1997

A model venture


A model and an interior designer. Different professions, but a shared passion -- art. Their venture? To free the art lover from the compulsions of deep pockets. Lisa Ray and Nisha Jamwal are organising an art show at the Artists' Centre from June 15, 1997. The six day-long exhibition will offer paintings, sculptures, black and white sketches, from artists such as Jatin Das, Milan Mukherjee, Sandeep Shukla, with prices ranging from a few thousand to a few lakh rupees.

"We are not limiting it to the affordable or the corporate. We are doing art that cannot be throttled in any category," insists Nisha. The aim is to display a cross-section of creations, neither elitist nor lowgrade. Though she won't exhibit something that falls short of her yardstick. "You can't sell something unless you have great conviction in its worth," adds Nisha. Many of the artists, whose works will be displayed, are not big names. But she points out there was a time when Husain's sketches were bought for Rs 200.

Nisha has done her interior architecture in Los Angeles, studied art in Paris and travelled to Japan and Australia, interacting with artists of different styles and focuses. Business has seen her decorating homes and offices with art, taking clients to galleries and recommending artistes.Therefore setting price tags to the exhibits was not difficult. Nisha and Lisa have added 15 to 20 per cent, to cover transportation and exhibition costs, plus profits. "The artist knows what his work should fetch. Art invariably falls under the purview of the law of demand and supply," says Nisha. She believes that the public is sensitive and sensible enough to block any artist from overpricing himself. If they are not consistent, prices of highly-acclaimed artists can crash.

Nisha's friendship with Lisa goes back a long time. Lisa also thinks they complement each other. "She is passionate, whereas I have a cooler temperament. Also we share the same love for art," she says. Lisa too has been around the globe and has been on the lookout for interesting artifacts. But her rise in modelling led to a waning of her interest in art, until she met Nisha. "She has reawakened my passion in art. Now I regularly do the rounds of exhibitions and galleries to educate myself," adds Lisa.

Initially she put on the garb of the critic until she realised that they are dime a dozen. "Why criticise? Why not bring ideas to this medium and see how they work?" she says. So the duo set up Art Aegis to display and promote art. But tight schedules and busy careers lead to this show getting postponed they cancelled hall bookings thrice already. Now, they have sworn to see it through. Lisa believes that the show will be different because there is a lot of fun and accessibility. "You feel intimidated if you don't know the right names and if you can't stand near the painting and say, `This line represents a suffering childhood'!" she remarks wryly.

Lisa aspires to take the snobbishness out of the art circus. "Why can't someone who is passionate about art, but not from an elitist background, not be able to enjoy or buy it?" she says. They hope to create an ambience where art can be discussed and debated, without the airs and the frills.

Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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