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 "Commerce is not a bad word" - Geeta Raheja 

A woman of strong conviction, Geeta Raheja wants to take her Fine Art Company to the common man, bringing in a level of art awareness.

A gallery that bespeaks style "Commerce is not a bad word," says Geeta Raheja, wife of Vijay Raheja, Raheja Builders Group, and the artistic brain behind The Fine Art Company, one of Mumbai's premier art galleries. She vehemently argues, "I do not think there is anything wrong with commerce and art going hand-in-hand. It is only when we make money that we can put it back into art. Whether it is an artist or a gallery person, the minute we make a sale it acts as a motivation."

The Fine Art Gallery at Linking RoadThe Fine Art Company, in today's techno savvy world, hopes to cross physical barriers and limitations, presenting a consolidated and cross cultural whole to the city. A section of the gallery houses books related to all forms of performing and visual arts, hoping to make the gallery a place synonymous with 'aesthetics.' "I studied interior decoration at the J J School of Art, about 20 years ago. A lot of my friends in college were artists who kept me updated on the art scene. That is how the Fine Art company came into being," says Raheja. This private gallery with a difference, associates with contemporary Indian art and interaction between the other performing and visual arts.

Geeta RahejaA series of slide shows, talks, poetry readings, book readings, environmental discussions, play readings, Indian classical vocal performances and even jazz and blues evenings are part of their activities. But is art meant only for the elite? "I would like it to be for the common man. I do not think that you have to possess everything to enjoy it. When I got into the gallery business I was naive enough to think that I could change its 'elitist status' overnight. It was my dream to have people just walk in and out of the place just to enjoy the work. Unfortunately for security reasons, I cannot open my gallery to the public. The other way I found was to have workshops and draw in a different category of people who do not otherwise go into galleries," avers Raheja. Some of her plans include a move towards more interactive space for various cultural disciplines. Last summer, the gallery successfully conducted workshops in mask-making and enamel jewellery organised by artists from the Baroda School of Art.

Being an interior decorator herself, is she promoting art that fits in with interior decor? "It works both ways, there are people who buy art because they love art or because they want something to fit in their interior decor. But obviously they are not buying something that they cannot associate with. In addition to the fact that they are picking up art that fits in with their interiors, they are also picking up art that reflects their personality, their aspirations. That is exactly what art is all about," Raheja is quick to retort. She feels that even people with greater purchasing power more often than not buy jewellery rather than art, because of lack of awareness.

Raheja has also been involved with 'Mobile Creches,' an organisation that looks after children of migrant construction workers, for over four years. She has been selecting and presenting the works of young artists (aged 5-12 years) that the Mobile Creches look after at the various construction sites.

Address:

The Fine Art Company, Raheja Chambers,
Linking Road & Main Avenue,
Santacruz West, Mumbai - 400 054

Phone: 605 6455, Fax: 649 7551
e-mail: tfac@vsnl.com

By: Anupama Vinayak

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