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Artworks that are making their auction debut in AstaGuru’s Modern Indian Art Auction
By Sakshi Batavia
11 Jul 2020
After the success of our recent No Reserve auction, we at AstaGuru are excited to present to the clients our upcoming Modern Indian art auction being held on the 15th and 16th of July. The catalogue is carefully curated and contains works that present the very best of Indian Modernism. The auction this time around is extremely special given the fact that several rare artworks are making their auction debut. Out of a total of 50 lots, 56% of the works have never been auctioned before and will be offered for the first time through AstaGuru’s catalogue. Each artwork within the catalogue showcases the versatility and potential of the various artists on offer.
Here we will give a brief preview of the key artworks that have never been auctioned before and have the potential to spark an enthusiastic interest in all the art collectors. Beginning with one of our National Treasures, we have a charcoal on paper portrait by the artist Amrita Sher-Gil from the year 1931. Every artist has a muse or that one subject that they keep going back to, time and again and Amrita Sher-Gil was no different. This particular portrait is of Marie Louise Chassagny, a close friend of the artist and fellow student at Ecole des Beaux-Arts. This sad and sombre portrait of Marie speaks volumes about the intimate relationship between her and the artist. Lot No. 6 is estimated between INR 30,00,000 and 40,00,000.
The next artwork is by an artist who has recently been gaining a lot of attention in the secondary art market. Prabhakar Barwe’s auction trajectory has been on a surge and his collector base has been constantly growing. Our Lot No. 14 titled ‘First Cloud’ was exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai in 1999. Barwe was known for his surrealistic compositions and this artwork is no different. The subject matter of the painting which is the ‘cloud’ was extremely important to the artist and he based several of his compositions on the concept. Barwe once claimed ‘A painting should be as natural as the flow of a river, or clouds drifting in the sky, or a flock of birds soaring high and changing formations mid flight. In my opinion, naturalness is a sign of a classic work of art’ and this particular artwork embodies the naturalness that Barwe talks about.
When we discuss artists and their preferred subjects, something would be amiss if we didn’t mention the name of S.H Raza and his journey leading up to the quintessential Bindu. Our Lot No. 16 ‘Bindu’ is a 1995 acrylic on canvas work. Going back to where it all began finally helped Raza arrive at the Bindu. His story of the rediscovery of the Bindu is also an interesting one. On one of his visits to India, he decided to go to the village school in Mandala where his education began. For a while, Raza had been troubled about some important questions. He wanted to integrate his childhood and all that he had experienced into his work. This is when the Bindu came rushing back to him. He remembered how his elementary school teacher always thought that Raza lacked adequate concentration. To improve his focus the teacher would draw a dot on the wall or the board and ask Raza to concentrate on it. Raza had finally found the perfect motif to channel his energies and bring everything into sync. One can say that with Bindu, Raza’s artistic journey came full circle. The Bindu could be seen as the perfect coming together of all the artistic elements and experiences he had amassed. Another artwork by SH Raza that has never been auctioned before is Lot No 46 titled ‘Panch – Tatva’. This artwork was acquired by the present owner directly from the artist. Panchtatva means the five fundamental elements of life. As per the Vedic doctrines, especially Ayurveda, the Pancha Mahabhuta, or “Five Great Elements” are Bhumi (Earth), Ap/Jala (Water), Tejas/Agni (Fire), Marut/Vayu/Pavan, Air/ Wind, Vyom/Shunya, Space/Zero or Akash, Aether/Void. SH Raza’s Panch – Tatva creation is visibly symbolic. Its formation reference represents all the fundamental elements of life. It would be inaccurate to state that this particular theme encapsulates the totality of his Bindu series vocabulary, considering SH Raza’s quest grasped infinity. Nonetheless, it is safe to claim that this thematic treatment involves one of the most, if not the most complex configuration of symbols and forms. Another artist who divulged into Indian spirituality and the different elements of nature was Akbar Padamsee and our Lot No 18, ‘Metascape’ is a direct result of the influence of the teachings in the Upanishad doctrine. Padamsee once said “I feel I could use the elements – water, earth, sky – without referring to any particular landscape – a metaphysical landscape”, and he succeeded in creating the very metaphysical landscape that he had envisioned. This hypnotic metascape from 2008 depicts all the elements of nature in his characteristic luminescence. The saturation of the cloud-like structure at the top serves as a direct contrast to the illuminating skyline.
No conversation around Modern Indian art is complete without the mention of M.F Husain. Our Lot No. 40 showcases Husain’s iconic horses. M.F Husain was undoubtedly enamoured by the aesthetic beauty of the horse and found inspiration in the camaraderie of ‘Duldul’ from the battlefield of Karbala, the beguiled contours of the horses of TsePai Hung and the regal grandeur of the ones of Ashwamedh. In this particular artwork which was acquired by the present owner directly from the artist, Husain incorporates the element of momentum, reflected in the galloping figures of the three horses. The central area of the painting is occupied by a sombre hued Dove to lend contrast to the existing colour palette of the work and lend it some sense of balance.
Lot No. 41 ‘In Search Of Lost Times’ by Ram Kumar is another artwork which is making its auction debut. Remarkable for its size, this artwork was a part of the Ram Kumar retrospective show held at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi in 1993. The painting gives us a glimpse into his ideology of seeing nature as the ultimate source of happiness. As one views the painting from left to right, it becomes apparent that the work is trying to portray the eventual encroachment of human settlement on the untouched beauty of nature. This work reveals his attempt to reconcile the city and the landscape. The lots discussed above are just a tiny fraction of the artworks that have never been auctioned before. Some of the other artworks include a rare tempera on woven plan leaf work by Jamini Roy, an oil on canvas work by KK Hebbar, an oil on canvas work from the early years of the artist Satish Gujral and so on. Head to our website to view the entire catalogue of our upcoming Modern Indian art online auction. The sale is scheduled for the 15th and 16th of July.