Modern Masterpieces of India — Highlights from South Asian Art

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Launch Slideshow

The upcoming Modern & Contemporary Art South Asian Art sale will offer outstanding works by artists from India and the subcontinent, including Tyeb Mehta, Meera Mukherjee, G. Ravinder Reddy and Bhupen Khakhar. Also offered in the sale is a remarkable collection of watercolours by Mahadev Visvanath Dhurandhar depicting views of early 20th century Bombay which are perfectly preserved and rare in their outstanding quality. Click through to see highlights from the auction. 

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art
25 October 2017 | London

Modern Masterpieces of India — Highlights from South Asian Art

  • Tyeb Mehta, Gesture, 1978.
    Estimate: £900,000–1,500,000.
    The top lot of the sale is an oil on canvas by the Modernist painter Tyeb Mehta. Gesture , created in 1978, belongs to a sequence of works which brought focus to the 'hands' of figures, 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. The work represents an important transition in Mehta's style. 

  • Bhupen Khakhar, Howard Hodgkin's House On Hand Painted Cushion, 1979. Estimate: £100,000–150,000.
    Howard Hodgkin's House On Hand Painted Cushion depicts Hodgkin's Wiltshire home in the UK, testifying to the close bond between these two important artists. The work comes from a private English collection where it remained since it was exhibited in Khakhar's 1979 exhibition at the Anthony Stokes and Hester van Royen Galleries in London. 

  • Jehangir Sabavala, Sentinel Trees, 1967.
    Estimate: £200,000–300,000.
    Jehangir Sabavala's Sentinel Trees 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 during which European Modernism was sweeping across the international art scene and imparting an avant-garde zeal and fervor upon the Indian subcontinent. 

  • Sayed Haider Raza, Polarité, 1994.
    Estimate: £150,000–200,000.
    Polarité , executed by Raza in 1994, 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 symbol of 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. 

  • Sayed Haider Raza, Untitled (Naga), 1982.
    Estimate: £100,000–150,000.
    Untitled (Naga) , is executed in vibrant tones of yellow, crimson, green, black, and brown – the colours of India and of Raza's childhood. The piece was painted during the phase when the artist was on the cusp of transitioning from abstract expressionism to rigid geometric compositions. Dominated by colour but framed within 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 in Raza's later work.

  • Prabhakar Barwe, Circular Oneness, 1994.
    Estimate: £30,000–50,000.
    Circular Oneness , executed by Prabhakar Barwe in 1994, brings a sense of almost zen-like perfection to Barwe's work. This large-scale painting is a quiet masterpiece, which portrays the organized chaos of everyday life by placing isolated incongruous objects into an enigmatic composition. Barwe is receiving renewed interest by scholars and curators in the field, and is a senior artist who is gaining greater recognition in the market.

  • Manjit Bawa, Untitled (Figure with Bull), 1997.
    Estimate: £350,000–500,000.
    Bawa's luminous paintings are an exploration of form and colour, through which 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. Like most of his work, he places his figures against a solid coloured background thus focusing the viewer's attention solely on the isolated subjects, in a manner inspired by traditional Indian miniature painting. 

  • Mahadev Visvanath Dhurandhar, detail from Twenty Watercolours Depicting Scenes of Bombay, circa 1900. Estimate: £20,000–30,000.
    The Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale will also include a beautiful selection of watercolours depicting Bombay at the turn of the 20th century. Twenty works by Mahadev Visvanath Dhurandhar which capture poignant moments of everyday life in Bombay in intricate detail will be offered within the sale. Recently discovered in an envelope in a drawer in rural England and having been untouched for more than 50 years, these watercolours are in exceptional condition. 

  • Maqbool Fida Husain, Untitled (Nayika), circa 1950s.
    Estimate: £100,000–150,000.
    Painted in the 1950s, Untitled (Nayika) by acclaimed modern Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain is a unique example of the artist’s masterly synthesis of varying 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. 

  • Sayed Haider Raza, Untitled (Princess Street, Bombay), 1945. Estimate: £18,000–20,000.
    These paintings are archetypal examples of the artist's earliest works. Created in 1945, these two vibrant watercolours provide a rare glimpse into the beginnings of Raza's artistic practice before his style became abstract.

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