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Myriad art at Taj

March 15, 2003 15:09 IST

The Taj group of hotels has been a symbol of luxury, elegance and style for the past century. Over the years, it has amassed an interesting and diverse collection of paintings and works of art.

The hospitality chain's art collection is, to put it mildly, simply breathtaking. From massive chandeliers to the finest in tribal art, from inlaid chairs and tables to artefacts, from Mughal-inspired jali designs to contemporary sculpture, the Taj incorporates a myriad artistic styles and tastes.

The Taj group's collections are displayed across its hotels in India and abroad. Today, the group has lost count of its collection. Just to give a rough idea, the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, the group flagship, has around 2,500 paintings.

As part of the hotel's recently completed centenary celebrations, it got its collection valued by Bowrings Fine Art Auctioneers. Many in the group were surprised to know that they were sitting on a virtual gold mine.

The Taj's art portfolio can give any leading museum in the country a complex. It includes the works of Tyeb Mehta, Ram Kumar, Jamini Roy, Krishen Khanna, Syed Haider Raza, Laxman Shreshta, B Prabha, V S Gaitonde, M F Hussain and Anjolie Ela Menon.

The group has a tradition of buying and promoting upcoming artists. The Taj group had picked up Menon, Hussain and Gaitonde's works in their early days, which today cost upwards of Rs 3 lakh (Rs 300,000) each.

It buys from exhibitions, galleries, auctions and also commissions artists to do exclusives. The panel in the new lobby at the Mumbai Taj hotel was done specially by Hussain.

In fact, many art objects were picked by Elizabeth Kerkar, the wife of Ajit Kerkar, former managing director of the Taj group. Elizabeth, who was vice-president, interiors, is believed to have done up most of the group's hotels.

Today, R K Krishna Kumar, the soft-spoken managing director, is involved with it. Also, the Taj group has a team to decorate the interiors for the leisure, business and luxury hotels. The team, along with inputs from international designers, picks and chooses works of art.

The group does not follow any dos and donts for art. The Taj group plans to exhibit its treasured trove in the future. Now, that will be a real treat.

Reeba Zachariah