Exceptional Masterpieces by India’s Most Distinguished Artists

Launch Slideshow

From 22–23 September The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, will showcase 23 highlights from Sotheby’s forthcoming London sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art. The exhibition will also include an exceptional oil on canvas by celebrated modern artist, Bhupen Khakhar, which will be offered as part the Howard Hodgkin: Portrait of the Artist sale. Displaying consignments drawn from prestigious private collections from around the world, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see works by some of the most pre-eminent creators of South Asian art. Click ahead to see highlights.

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art
25 October 2017 | London

Howard Hodgkin Portrait of the Artist
24 October 2017 | London

Exceptional Masterpieces by India’s Most Distinguished Artists

  • Tyeb Mehta, Gesture, 1978.
    Estimate: £900,000–1,500,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    The top lot of the sale is this oil on canvas by the Modernist painter Tyeb Mehta. Taken from a series of work produced while Mehta lived in Delhi – an illustrious time in the artist’s career during which he was a key figure in the art scene of the capital. Initially owned by Mehta’s neighbor in Delhi, the work is part of an important transition in Mehta’s style.

  • Bhupen Khakhar, De-Luxe Tailors, 1972.
    Estimate: £250,000–350,000. From Howard Hodgkin: Portrait of the Artist sale.
    The exhibition will feature two works by Bhupen Khakhar whose vivid and bold style won him acclaim as one of the greatest Indian artists of the 20th century. Created in 1972, De-Luxe Tailors is one of the most important works by the artist to ever come to the market and the only painting from his seminal ‘Tradesmen series’ to be offered at auction. Given as a gift from Khakhar to his lifelong friend and mentor, Howard Hodgkin, the painting hung in Hodgkin’s Wiltshire home, where Khakhar stayed as a guest in the 1970s. One of the artist’s first works in his own individual voice, marking a clear shift from his neo-miniature collages of the 1960s to the next phase of his oeuvre, inspired by popular realism, this work featured prominently in the recent Tate retrospective of Khakhar’s work in London, and has been published many times over.

  • Bhupen Khakhar, Howard Hodgkin's House On Hand Painted Cushion, 1979.
    Estimate: £100,000–150,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    This further work by Bhupen Khakhar is a highlight of the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale. Depicting Hodgkin’s Wiltshire home and testifying to the close bond between these two important artists, the oil on canvas has only once been seen in public, having been in a private English collection since Khakhar’s gallery exhibition in 1979.

  • Jehangir Sabavala, Sentinel Trees.
    Estimate £200,000–300,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    This work exemplifies the artist’s perspectival inventiveness in creating tranquil and mysterious spaces with remarkable depth and tactile sentiment. Born in 1922 into one of the most influential families of Raj-Era Bombay, Sabavala rose to prominence as a painter in the early 1950s, at a moment when European Modernism was sweeping across the international art scene and imparting an avant-garde zeal and fervor upon the Indian subcontinent.


  • Maqbool Fida Husain, Untitled (Nayika).
    Estimate: £100,000–150,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    This work is a unique example of the artist’s masterly synthesis of different classical forms, brought together on one stage. In 1948, Husain visited the India Independence Exhibition with Francis Newton Souza and was struck by the classical Indian sculpture and traditional miniature painting from the Rajput and Pahari courts. In the two vibrantly painted nayikas in the foreground of the work, we see the cheerful palette and Ashta-Nayika theme of Basholi paintings as well as the sculpted forms of Gupta and Mathura sculptures. This work is from a time that is considered the apex of the artist’s career when his masterpieces, Between the Spider and the Lamp, 1956, Pagan Mother, 1956 and Zameen, 1955, were universally celebrated for its depiction of rural life and folk tradition.

  • Sayed Haider Raza, Untitled (Naga), 1982.
    Estimate: £100,000–150,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    The sale will also feature a strong group of works by S.H. Raza, including six from the Norwegian collector, Mr. Per Elias Rosenlund, a close friend of the artist. Dating from the early 1980s – a seminal period in the artist’s oeuvre – the works on offer demonstrate the artist’s unmistakable and easily distinguishable use of blazing, bold colours. The pictured work, an acrylic on paper, is executed in vibrant tones of yellow, crimson, green, black, and brown - the colours of India and of Raza’s childhood and was painted during the phase when Raza was on the cusp of transitioning from abstract expressionism to rigid geometric compositions. Dominated by colour but framed within the two horizontal black bands, one can observe the emergence of the ubiquitous ‘Bindu’ - considered the force that controls the sacred order of the universe, which became a central theme of Raza’s later work.

  • Raza, Polarité, 1994.
    Estimate: £150,000–200,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    Executed in 1994, this is an excellent example of Raza’s depiction of the bindu and illustrates the artist’s distinctive aesthetic vocabulary in the mid-1990s. In Polarité a large and imposing lingam framed by a red border dominates the left side. In Indian metaphysics the lingam is closely related to the phallus symbol and Shiva, the creative principle and the giver of the seed of life. Opposed to that Raza pairs a smaller bindu characterised by energetic concentric rings with a blue downwards facing triangle, a symbol epitomising the feminine principle. By opposing the masculine and feminine, fire (red) and water (blue) Raza’s sacred and mystical diagram is replete with energy and establishes polarity or opposition.

  • Manjit Bawa, Untitled (Figure with Bull), 1997.
    Estimate: £350,000–500,000. From Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale.
    Creating works which contain a purity of form and colour that is both ancient and modern, Bawa has established himself as one of India’s most original artists. Often inspired by icons and myths, his subjects represent the dual polarities of the human and animal world; although they share the same environment they occupy different universes. In this present work, Bawa portrays an unidentified sitter crouching next to a bull, employing his distinctive colouring techniques to render the figure. Like most of his work, he places his figures against a solid coloured background thus focusing the viewer’s attention solely on the subject.


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