Lot 24
  • 24


2,000,000 - 3,000,000 INR
bidding is closed


  • Prabhakar Barwe
  • Untitled
  • Signed and dated in Devanagari lower right
  • Oil on cloth pasted on board
  • 91.4 x 121.9 cm. (36 x 48 in.)
  • Painted in 1961


Acquired directly from the artist
Acquired from the above, 2006-7


Mumbai, National Gallery of Modern Art, Astitva - The Essence of Prabhakar Barwe, 13 June - 28 July 2019

Catalogue Note

Born in 1936 in to a family of sculptors and artists in rural Maharashtra, Prabhakar Barwe trained at the Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay in the early 1950s. It was during this time that he was exposed to the work of local artists like Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Mohan Samant, and Ambadas Khobragade, but his seminal influences were from the Surrealist and Expressionist movement, perhaps most notably the work of Paul Klee. During an extended stay in the holy city of Benares from 1961-1965, Barwe was profoundly affected by his study of esoteric Tantric philosophy. Based upon his philosophical insights, Barwe likened the creative process of the universe to the process of art-making, which remained central to his visual vocabulary. ‘He defined a parallel universe through the gleeful transgression of customary logic, assembled a symbolic reality where the data of ordinary life was transmitted as strange and sublime missives.’ (R. Hoskote, 'The Secret Heart of the Clock', ART India Magazine, Mumbai, April - June 1996, p. 44)

During this time, Barwe's thematic and stylistic preoccupations also underwent a change. ‘Newly interested in space as a metaphysical concept, he began striving for a purity of form and colour. The fluid relationship between an object, an idea, and its translation into an image became a ‘meta-level’ concern.’ (A. Jhaveri, A Guide to 101 Modern & Contemporary Indian Artists, India Book House Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, 2005, pp. 14-15)

The present lot vascillates between representation and pure abstraction. One can imagine a figure or form emerging from the lines that first appear geometric, then twist, slant and bend, in constant dialogue with each other, vibrating and giving the image distinctive and subtle energy. Here, Barwe has created a patchwork of different colours and techniques; the warm rose-tinted palette is complemented by the artist's inventive working of the surface. It is a delightful painting, where Barwe’s presence is strongly felt. This lot is an exceptional example of the manner in which Barwe drew inspiration from his surroundings and his ability to capture the emotional potency of his thoughts into a sublime and abstract composition.