Ten years ago, when Martin da Costa, CEO of the Indian luxury events group Seventy Event Management, attended the Turner Prize award function in London, he had an epiphany. “There were swarms of people, from well-heeled socialites to backpackers, and I figured that people were increasingly interested in art awards," he says.

With the interest in Indian contemporary art growing, da Costa got together with European automobile manufacturer ŠkodaAuto India to announce what he thinks could be India’s answer to the prestigious Turner Prize, the annual prize presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50.

Bharti Kher’s ‘The Skin Speaks a Language Not its Own’ (2006) recently created auction history in a sale by Sotheby’s London by fetching $1,493,947 (around Rs7crore). Priyanka Parashar / Mint

Skoda entered the Indian premium car market in 2001 with a plant on the outskirts of Aurangabad, making it the company’s first assembly facility outside Europe. According to Thomas Kuehl, director of sales and marketing, ŠkodaAuto India, associating with art was a natural extension of the brand’s positioning in India.

The prize has an impressive jury panel, chaired by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, managing trustee and honorary director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. Other jury members include Rajshree Pathy, the founder of the Contemplate arts initiative; and Kavita Singh, an associate professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Marianne Burki, who is head of visual arts at Pro Helvetia, the liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council in India, will provide the critical international insight required.

Nominations for the prize opened on Tuesday after a launch ceremony in New Delhi. In addition to works entered by artists, the advisory committee will be approaching galleries across India to nominate three artists each for the prize. Apart from a cash prize of Rs1 lakh for the winner, 20 longlisted artists will be featured in The Škoda Prize Catalogue and artworks of the final three artists will be exhibited in January in New Delhi, when the winner will be announced.

Read more about the Skoda Prize at www.theskodaprize.com. Nominations for the 2010-2011 award can be submitted till 30 September.

anindita.g@livemint.com

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