ART Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi, will soon be the one-stop spot for art display of international stature. RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN

L alit Kala Gallery in the Capital, is wearing a deserted look these days; but one can find workers running around, noting down minute details inside the library or busy in the administrative block.Come Commonwealth Games and the entire premises will match the standards of an international venue for art exhibitions and its well-stocked library will house the rarest of material on art.

The renovation of Lalit Kala Akademi's five important wings, the administrative block, gallery area, Kaustubh auditorium, guest house and board room, is being done in three phases on a war footing. And it's not only the structural changes that are likely to surprise the viewers but also changes within.

The gallery (in 1645 sq.m area) with a new brick look, for instance, will get another floor in the basement. Its three floors have already been refurbished with soundless, scratch-less Pergo flooring , and the walls are lined with Australian strings to hold several paintings at a time and at a desirable distance with adjustable stoppers. It is now well-equipped with German wall-washer neutral lights which can rotate 360 degrees to highlight all areas of the work displayed. “This is done to invite any international show of mammoth stature,” says Sudhakar Sharma, secretary, adding, “because of poor security and surveillance system, insurance companies wouldn't let international artists do their shows in Indian galleries. Lalit Kala will be the only one in the country to meet international standards of security, surveillance, display area, lights and walking space now.”

The spacious library too has got a new look. It has over 10, 000 books on art from across the world. Its latest acquisition is a 2-ft high, 50 kg book called ‘Modern Art; Revolution in Printing' published by Art Media, Italy.

Affordable prints

One of the most interesting features of the library is its ‘Canvas Reproduction' section. Says its photo officer, Dinesh Kumar, “Here we can reproduce as many faithful canvas prints of the artists' works as they want. The Museum Shop outside Kaustubh Auditorium houses rare publications/journals from the time the gallery started in 1954. The area has rotating display boards with works of important artists such as Aara, Somnath Hore, Ram Kinkar Baij, etc. Affordable souvenirs like mugs with paintings (Rs.50) and prints (Rs.500) of (for instance) rare Bagh Murals of Madhya Pradesh (486 A.D.) and wall paintings of Kerala's heritage palaces in Mattancherry , Padmanabhapuram and Krishnapuram are sure to entice art lovers.