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RPG Academy’s steadfast commitment to promoting contemporary art
RPG Enterprises, formed in 1979, is among India’s fastest growing business houses. The group has under its fold many companies that run diverse business interests. Wide-ranging domain-specific activities, the management foresight, vision and a reputation to reckon with make them a pioneering business entity.

Going beyond business, RPG has established itself as a socially responsible and proactive organization. The group believes in giving back to the society what it has received from it. It generously contributes toward the welfare of various noteworthy social causes and is simultaneously involved in promotion of meaningful activities in the field of sports and arts.

RPG Academy of Art & Music remains a keen promoter of art and music. The group chairman, Harsh Goenka, is an ardent art collector. He believes in creating an ambience conducive to unbounded creativity. 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.

His 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. It’s an outcome of his artistic vision that all group offices host fine pieces of exquisite art by Indian masters, such as M. F. Husain, Raza, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Laxman Shreshtha, Jehangir Sabavala, as well as several prominent young and contemporary artists.

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 endorses and promotes thriving Indian art scene by sponsoring significant art exhibits, including ‘Amazing, 2008, featuring 27 young and established artists; ‘Sacred Space’ that showcased the spiritual and the profane identities of Indian religious culture and beliefs (2004); RPG Collection of Contemporary Bengal Art, The NGMA, Mumbai (2003); ‘Mela: A Carnival of Indian Art (2002); ‘Self-Portraits & Bombay Artists- Progressive Perspectives’ (2001); ‘The Flashback- Flashforward’ (1999); ‘The Bombay Show’ presenting Mumbai’s diversity on canvas (1998); ‘50 Years of Freedom of Expression (1997); ‘The Mother Theresa Exhibition’ (1996); and an exhibition of modern paintings & sculptures in Mumbai in 1995.

RPG Academy of Art & Music continues to support and encourage upcoming and talented artists. The idea is to bring real talent to the fore. Another prime example of their commitment to the cause is the annual RPG Art Camp, one among the most eagerly awaited art gatherings in Indian art calendar. The academy has been organizing the camps since 1991.

Ever year established and emerging artists from across the country and abroad assemble at the RPG beach house at Mumbai’s magnificent Marve Beach for a week. They come together amidst picturesque settings, away from the clutter to paint and exchange ideas with each other. The interactions and discussions between senior and younger artists lead to amazing creative expressions. The relaxed habitat only enhances the creative quality of their wonderful works. The gathering constitutes a perfect setting for painters to create some inspiring masterpieces.

Mr. Vickram Sethi, an art expert-collector, first suggested the concept to Mr. Harsh Goenka. RPG art camp was started way before such camps turned into a 'business model' for some of those burgeoning galleries, as a news report by Vishwas Kulkarni of The Mumbai Mirror points out. Elaborating on the concept, Mr. Goenka was quoted as saying, “I think over the years, Vickram (Sethi) and I have worked out a definitive agenda to make it an eclectic mix where senior artists can guide the younger lot; we've also worked to lend more gender diversity to the camp, and over the years international artists of repute have been participating in this event."

The 2009 edition, held last month, involved an interesting mix of artists like Charmi Gada Shah, Ajay Dhandre, Debraj Goswami, Chinmoy Pramanick, Dileep Sharma, Yashwant Deshmukh, Sonia Mehra Chawla, T. K. Muralidharan, Parvathi Nayar, Prasanta Sahu, Mithu Sen, Samit Das, Prajakta Potnis, T. M. Azis, Shalina Vichitra, Suneel Mamadapur, Janet Treloar and Nick Hornby apart from of course, Anjolie Ela Menon, Krishen Khanna, and Paresh Maity.