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Harsh Goenka determined to revive NGMA, Mumbai
Harsh Goenka, an industrialist of great standing and also an avid art connoisseur, now has another feather in his hat, as a recent news report stated. He is the chairperson of National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (NGMA).

NGMA used to be quite a happening place. Sadly, it has been missing the vibrancy of the past for quite some time now. To revive the ambience and the spirit, Harsh Goenka is planning to draw the young people to it. He has been quoted as saying in the DNA India: "We’re planning to organize art lectures and seminars and invite students who can learn more about art here.” According to him, there are also plans to re-open the cafeteria. The aim is to turn NGMA into a cool place for hanging out alongside a museum store, which will stock memorabilia with interesting art works on them.

The art collector-connoisseur intends to chalk out a busy NGMA schedule, including cutting-edge, contemporary shows, especially to attract the youth. As he put it: "The idea is to bring back people and vibrancy to the place.” For this purpose, tightly curated shows and traveling shows are there on the agenda.

He describes NGMA as a great institution, which started off on a nice note but has become lukewarm in the last few years mainly owing to inadequate resources and lack of authority with no clear person to lead the glorious institution. To rectify things, he is planning to seek interest and participation of private sector; invite renowned and established curators to curate art shows, and urge art collectors to showcase their collections at NGMA.

His own rich collection embraces a wide array of genres and styles of art. It transcends several generations of Indian artists. His initial acquisitions included creations of artist Bikash Bhattacharjee and works on the great saint Mother Teresa. He purchased `Mother Teresa' by MF Husain when she was extremely unwell. It was his first painting he acquired for Rs. one lakh.

Harsh Goenka launched his quest with Husain, and his desire to understand contemporary Indian art took him afar. He particularly loves collecting self-portraits by artists. He has reasoned: “I always felt it was indeed a fascinating exercise, to see how painters looked at themselves.” In the last several years, the avid and knowledgeable art collector has added abstract and figurative works, installation art and new media apart from his favorite portraits, to his collection.

Harsh Goenka’s journey, traversing the labyrinths of contemporary Indian art, has been simply fascinating. He has once recounted: "I started off collecting decorative sorts like Jaya Wheaton for example. And I would say I was making mistakes." But such false steps took him to more discoveries. His weekends were committed to gallery visit. For him, collecting art is an emotional response to finer aspects of life.

The family has had a tradition of collecting magnificent miniature art from all over. The fabulous family collection of the R.P. Goenka group sure is among the most coveted collections of miniatures in India. His father asked him to catalogue their miniature collection.

Once he developed a keen interest, Harsh Goenka decided to launch the RPG Academy of Art & Music. The academy has been organizing an annual art camp in Mumbai, since 1991. Artists from different regions of the country stay and paint together for a week at the CEAT House in Marve, a beach suburb of Mumbai. The artists are carefully selected from across the country. It serves as a perfect setting for creative minds to come up with inspiring works of art. Renowned artists like Paresh Maity and Anjolie Ela Menon have attended these camps. Young artists thus get an opportunity to interact with senior artists at the art camp. The academy has also organized several exhibitions, and continues to support and encourage upcoming, talented artists.

For him his collection is simply priceless, and he refuses to attach any price tag to it. Over all these years, he has learnt a valuable lesson. "I never collected art as an investment.”