The Bombay Art Society

Profile of the Society:
The Bombay Art Society is a 112-year-old institution founded for encouraging art, especially among amateurs, and for educating people to appreciate it. Almost all renowned artists on India's art scene have been associated with the Society in some way. The society boasts of a rich past though its members rue the fact that the institution has struggled in the recent times. To put it in the words of a writer from 'Story of a hundred Years' - "The Bombay Art Society, in the last two decades its clout as a pioneer institution has been on the decline and its influence on the contemporary art scene is at best marginal, there is no denying its historical context and it is against this that the Bombay Art Society's greatness can be best understood.
History of the Society:
The Bombay Art Society established in 1888 at the time when Impressionists like Cezanne and Renoir were perfecting, the conditions under which geniuses like Picasso, Braque and Miro, would give a new dimension to art. Since then, the Society has played a seminal role as an organisation promoting art in India.The Society moved to the Sir J J School of Art in 1900. This led to an impression among the people that it was a government institution. Soon, the Society shifted to the Town Hall in an effort to popularize its exhibitions. The society continued to face financial constraints. Yet, it managed to publish its first journal in 1910. Unfortunately, the journal could not be released the next year. It took another 25 years for the Society to revive the journal.
Aim of the Society:
In 1910, O. V. Muller, the secretary of the Society, in one of his articles mentioned, that "By affording opportunities of exhibiting work, submitting it to criticism, winning medals, prizes, the Society strives not only to keep alive but to develop this artistic sense. The various Art Schools of the country are putting forth an ever increasing number of students, and these would be artists, also find space in the Society's Exhibitions one of their chief supports".The Society sincerely pursues this goal till today. facing hurdles like space crunch and paucity of funds, it continues to promote and to support the emerging talent on India's art scene.
Scholarships offered by the Society:
The scheme of prestigious Bendre-Husain Scholarship for encouraging and supporting the upcoming artists was instituted in 1989-90. Two scholarships of Rs.25,000 each are offered to artists from different categories like painting, print making and sculpture. M. F. Husain, Shaffat Husain Trustee, Prafulla Dahanukar, K. G. Menon and Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni are the trustees, have instituted one more additional scholarship since the year 1999.
Annual Exhibition held by the Society:
The Society held its 108th annual art exhibition this year. The art exhibition has been an annual feature of the Society since its inception barring a few exceptions.In its efforts of promoting Fine Art in India and providing a platform to upcoming artists from all the disciplines, the Society holds an annual exhibition. This year 984 entries were received for all the sections including the newly introduced section of Installation.The annual exhibitions of the Society were almost like VIP affairs in the early years. A day before the inauguration ceremony, attended by distinguished guests from the Government, a dress rehearsal was conducted. It was a grand event for the connoisseurs of the art.The annual exhibitions were held at different venues till 1951 when the Jehangir Art Gallery was built. The Society acquired a permanent venue for the annual event at the gallery.
Awards of the Society in different categories:
Every year a panel of eminent painters and sculptors are requested to scrutinize the works of the artists and to declare the awards. There are prizes for professional and students category. Professional Category (Paintings/Graphics/Sculpture) 1. The Governor of Maharashtra Prize for the best entry of the year 2. Camlin Limited Prize and Medal for the best exhibit in painting 3. J. Mistri Artist Award and Medal for Sculpture 4. Hindustan Pencil Limited Prize for Charcoal on paper 5. Vishva Animation Prize for Sculpture 6. Late Krishnarao Ketkar Prize for Landscape Painting 7. Birla Foundation Prize for Indian Style Painting 8. Uttam Pacharne Prize for Sculpture 9. Gajanan Kanade Prize for Figurative Painting 10. Late C. M. Pardeshi Fund Prize for Portrait painting 11. The Bombay Art Society Prize for Handicapped Artist Student Category (Paintings/Graphics/Sculpture) 1. Aakhar Prize for Graphic 2. Uttam Pacharne Prize for Sculpture 3. Gurumukharai Trust Prize for Sculpture 4. Das Foundation Prize for Water Colour Painting 5. Late G Singhnia Prize for Portrait 6. P Bhogilal Trust Prize for Landscape 7. Late G Shenoy Memorial Prize
Proposed Art Complex of the Society:
During the Society's Centenary year in1990 veteran artist and the then president of the Society K. K. Hebbar took the initiative for the complex. The Society operates from the Jehnagir Art Gallery and thus faces difficulties in executing many of its ambitious plans like a permanent art gallery and an art library.The Maharashtra Government has gifted a piece of land in North-West Mumbai for the complex. Well-known architect Raja Aideri has prepared a draft plan for the complex. Funds have since been raised through individual donations and public subscriptions.The Society hopes the complex to be ready within the next two years. The first three floors of the proposed Art Complex will comprise exhibition halls. An art gallery will be built on the fourth floor. In one of the exhibition halls on this floor Western India School of Art will be permanently displayed.The complex will have a mini theatre with a capacity of 75-100 people to hold seminars, talks and slide lectures.
Upcoming projects of the Society:
The Bombay Art Society has taken up a video documentation project on old masters. In this, 10 veteran painters will speak about their work and the inspiration and the philosophy . B. D. Shirgaonkar, Akbar Padamsee, A. A. Raiba, Sadanand Bhakre, Madhav Satwlekar, M. F. Husain and P. A. Dhond are among the artists to be covered under the project.Apart from this, the Society intends to hold various activities throughout the year like art and personality camp, lectures and seminars.
The Bombay Art Society:
Jehangir Art Gallery,
Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Mumbai - 400 023
Tel - (022) 204 40 58

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