That the dominating colour scheme of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s canvases on display at Gallerie 88 was green, came as no surprise. What was surprising, if at all, was the lush collection of Rs 92 lakh from a sale of 45 out of the 98 paintings at the end of Day 2 of the exhibition-cum-sale on Tuesday.
In a 2007 exhibition of 41 paintings by Banerjee, 11 were sold for Re 1 lakh each.
Sources named co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders Jai Mehta, industrialist Harshvardhan Neotia, president of the Bengal cricket association Jagmohan Dalmiya, and veteran actor Ranjit Mullick as some of the buyers.
CPI(M) central committee member Mohammed Selim, however, criticised the fund-raising exercise. “Corporate money bags are getting into the electioneering process in a camouflaged manner. This should not be allowed.”
On being asked whether industrialists were buying political mileage by picking up the canvases, most either refused to comment on it or dodged the question.
Mullick, however, let in that he had paid Rs 50,000 for a small canvas. “My wife is a lover of art. She selected one (painting) for our house,” he said.
Artist Jogen Choudhury, who inaugurated the exhibition on Monday, said, “If there is anything which shines through her canvases, it is her honesty and vibrant emotions.”
Suvaprasanna, who is Banerjee’s art mentor, said, “The proceeds for this exhibition will be utilised for the elections. She has already donated them to Jaago Bangla, the mouthpiece of Trinamool Congress.”
Artist Ganesh Pyne said, "As an amateur painter, her works are not bad."