Property from the Surya Collection, Mrs. Ute Rettberg

Pilloo Pochkhanawala

Atomic Couple

Auction Closed

October 26, 03:08 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from the Surya Collection, Mrs. Ute Rettberg

Pilloo Pochkhanawala

1923 - 1986

Atomic Couple

Scrap metal and stones

This is a unique work

104 x 65 x 40.6 cm. (40 ⅞ x 25 ½ x 15 ⅞ in.) including base

Executed circa 1974

Acquired directly from the artist in Bombay, circa 1974

Atomic couple is a captivating work of juxtaposition, between the smooth, rounded, natural stones and the angular, serrated, and starkly geometric industrial metal armature in which they are nestled. In this unique, enchanting, modernist sculpture, Pochkhanawala’s masterful amalgam of metal and stone is evocative of us as humans and our varied natures.

Born in Bombay in 1923, Pilloo Pochkhanawala initially worked in advertising. It was not until 1951, on a business trip to Europe, that she felt the magnetic pull of the sculpting profession. Visiting European museums and seeing “the major works of modern sculptors”, Pochkhanawala recalls she “felt struck by a visual bolt.” (S. V. Vasudev, Pilloo Pochkhanawala, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 1981, unpaginated) Back in India, she was mentored by legendary sculptor N. G. Pansare, who taught her the techniques of sculpting and encouraged her to experiment with a variety of materials. 

‘… Pochkhanawala’s inherent dynamism soon lured her far beyond while her natural inventiveness led her to gradually abandon the conventional wood, cement and beaten lead for the more contemporary materials provided by industry… most particularly scrap iron and steel. Encouraged by Rukmani and Tanu Gokuldas who owned a factory at Marol, Pochkhanawala found herself with precious workshop facilities and a first hand opportunity to learn welding techniques at the factory itself. Gathering up the flotsan [sic] and jetsam of discarded iron and steel, she fused the fragments together to create [her] diverse pieces…’

(N. Ty-Tomkins Seth, ‘Introduction’, Pilloo Pochkhanawala - A Retrospective 1952-1984, Gallery Chemould, Bombay, unpaginated)