Lot 15
  • 15

Manjit Bawa

150,000 - 200,000 USD
389,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Manjit Bawa
  • The Black Devi
  • Signed and dated 'Manjit Bawa 2002' and further signed in Devanagari on reverse
  • Oil on canvas


Hong Kong, Visual Arts Centre, Manjit Bawa, October - November 2002


Biswas, M., 'The Colours of Music', Swagat, October 2002, cover illustration

Indian Contemporary, Sakshi Gallery and Societé Asiatique of Multiple Art & Artists, Manjit Bawa, New Delhi, 2002, unpaginated, detail illustrated on cover

Jhaveri, A., A Guide to 101 Modern and Contemporary Indian Artists, Mumbai, 2005, p. 17 illus.

Catalogue Note

Manjit Bawa's use of colour and composition is grounded in his formal training as a silk-screen printer and his study of Rajput and Pahari miniature paintings which eschews and compresses background and foreground into a timeless expanse. The iconography of this painting is derived from Pahari representations of the goddess Durga. Sat atop her vehicle, she rides into battle to defeat the buffalo demon Mahishasura. Durga is a warrior goddess, she is imbued with beauty and strength, her multiple arms and hands supporting weapons and displaying mudras. Durga Mahishasura is a representation of good over evil and the embodiment of the Devi's strength.

'The interaction of man and animal is a recurring theme in Bawa's work, and Hindu iconography poses opportunities to explore this theme formally: Vishnu and the serpent, Shiva and the bull, Durga and the lion are subjects that have unified the artist's work through the decades.' (Amrita Jhaveri, A Guide to 101 Modern & Contemporary Indian Artists, Mumbai, 2005, p. 16).

In this painting, Bawa has employed his distinctive colouring techniques to render the figure, combining the saturation of colour with gradual tonal variations. He was not concerned with narrative but with the spatial and the chromatic relationship of his canvases. As in a number of his paintings, he has placed the monumental figure against a solid coloured background thus focusing the viewers attention solely on the subject. Bawa's figures possess a plasticity; sculptural in form yet suspended weightlessly in a space that is without time or context. 'Bawa composed figures of biotic shapes forming oddly elongated limbs on softly rounded bodies. Creatures in unexpected bold hues emerge from the action of the brush with no nod to anatomical study.' (Susan Bean, Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence, London, 2013, p. 128).

Although his subjects are recognisable from traditional lore, he manages to strip them of their historical and cultural baggage and arrives at an image that represents their true spiritual essence. Bawa's works contain a purity of form and colour that is both ancient and modern. His images are eternal, immediate and accessible.