South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art
September 15, 2010
New York Fall Asian Art Week Totals $70.75 Million, 2nd Highest Total
For Christies New York Asian Art Week. The Fine Chinese Ceramics and
Works of Art Sale Totaled $34,115,000.
The Chinese Works of Art Sales, Including Archaic Bronzes from The Anthony Hardy Collection Totaled $55.5 Million, the Highest Total for a Series of Chinese Art Sales in New York
Lot 388, "Densely Packed," by Subodh Gupta, oil on canvas, 65 5/8 by 89 5/8 inches, 2004, left; Lot 386, "Karuna," by Atul Dodiya, enamel paint, synthetic varnish and acrylic epoxy on laminate, 71 1/2 by 48 inches, 2006, center; "Two Cows," by Subodh Gupta, bronze and aluminum and chrome, 42 by 73 by 18 inches, from an edition of three, right
Superb works by blockbuster contemporary artists Subodh
Gupta, T.V. Santosh, Rashid Rana and Atul Dodiya share the limelight with two
world-class paintings by modern masters Syed Hyder Raza and Francis Newton
Souza that are highlights of the South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction at Christie’s in
Other paintings by Modern masters such as Maqbool Fida
Husain and Jagdish Swaminathan offer historical context – and great beauty -
for exciting contemporary art, displayed side by side in Christie’s galleries.
Early works by Raza, and other Modern Masters evoke nostalgia for the past,
Deepanjana Klein, Christie’s Specialist, South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, with Lot 323, “La Terre,” right, and
Lot 323, "La Terre," by Syed Haider Raza, acrylic on canvas, 78 3/4 inches square, 1985
A spectacular, earth toned
canvas by Syed Hyder Raza, “La Terre,” painted in 1985, (
Detail of Lot 323, "La Terre," by Raza
Klein from Christie’s Modern and
Christie’s catalogue for this sale includes this statement by Raza:
“I moved to a new period in
the eighties. The language of your painting changes when you start listening to
silence. Within the silence of solitude, the inner landscape of the human mind
moves into another pathway. I learned to understand polarities - the
co-existence of opposites that complement even as they exist. Life and death,
man and woman, black and white - everything has a different rhythm. I realized
how poetry can contain few words and say so much. Painting became the metaphor
of life itself.” (Artist statement. A.
Vajpeyi, A Life in Art: RAZA,
Lot 341, “Le Village,” by Syed Hyder Raza, 1956, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 by 21 5/8 inches
Left: Lot 355, “Rajasthan," by Syed Hyder Raza, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 39 by 39 inches; center: Lot 340, “Woman with Mirror and Flowers," by Francis Newton Souza, 1960, oil on board, 47 7/8 by 36 inches; right: Lot 356, “La Mer,” by Syed Hyder Raza, 1968, oil on canvas, 40 inches by 39 ¼ inches
Some of Raza’s early
paintings are still available at reasonable prices, like Lot 341, “Le Village,”
(estimated at $80,000 to $120,000), painted as a young and impressionable art
student in France, heavily influenced by Cezanne, Gauguin and Monet, and Lot
356, “La Mer,” (1962), a sumptuous composition in blues evoking sea and sky,
with an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000, and Lot 355, “Rajasthan,” (1975), with an
estimate of $250,000 to $350,000, illustrated above. Wedged between two Raza’s is
While the influence of
Dali and Picasso are obvious in Francis Newton Souza’s wonderful “Untitled,
(Large Head),” (Lot 334, estimate $1,200,000-1,800,000), painted in 1962, it is
also reminiscent of a Tim Burton sketch for a fantastical character from one of
his off-beat movies, or a composite head by Archimboldo, (active 1526-1593),
who substituted plants and animals for human features, who will be the subject of
a one-man show at The National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall. A
visionary, Souza has combined organic forms
and mechanical elements like those in a clock to create an automaton.
strangely appealing composition is intended to depict imagined
cultural theory in the early 1960s. The painting, which is the
cover illustration of the catalogue, measures 62 5/8 by 40 5/8
Lot 368, “Untitled (Bust of a Man), by Francis Newton Souza, 1968, oil and spray paint on board, 48 inches square
The catalogue reveals that many of the artworks in this sale have incredible stories attached to them, including Lot 368, “Untitled (Large Head)," from The Collection of the late Robin Howard C.B.E., the eldest son of Sir Arthur Howard and Lady Lorna Baldwin, daughter of the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Robin Howard’s deep passion for dance, music and modern art was fueled by patronage, and strengthened when, tragically, he lost both of his legs fighting with gallantry in the Scots Guards in the last year of World War II. Christie’s catalogue notes:
“Robin Howard’s first
introduction to Francis Newton Souza and Modern Indian Art came from his
involvement with Gallery One in
This is backed-up by a letter written by Souza himself, reprinted in Christie’s catalogue for this sale:“Victor Musgrave, my dealer, also managed to find me an enterprising Englishman, Mr. Robin Howard, (who’s now the ‘angel’ for the London Dance Company and introduced Martha Graham in
Lot 351, "Untitled (Bird and Mountain Series," by Jagdish Swaminathan, oil on canvas, 31 3/4 by 45 inches
Other modern masters whose work is represented in this sale include Lot 351, (estimate $120,000 to $180,000), a poetic and meditative “Untitled (Bird and Mountain Series),” by Jagdish Swaminathan (1928-1994), Lot 342, (estimate $100,000 to $150,000), “Trussed Bull,” an oil by by Tyeb Mehta, and a superb work on paper of the same subject, Lot 343, “Untitled (Study for a Trussed Bull),” (estimate $25,000 to $35,000), illustrated below. Lot 351 failed to sell. Lot 342 failed to sell. Lot 343 sold for $37,500.
Lot 342, “Untitled (Study for a Trussed Bull,” by Tyeb Mehta, 1966, oil on canvas, 23 ¼ by 29 5/8 inches
Lot 343, “”Untitled (Study for Trussed Bull),” 1999, charcoal on paper, 19 ½ by 23 1/8 inches
Striking Lot 345, “Untitled (Durga),” by Manjit Bawa (1941-2008), with an estimate of $200,000 to $250,000, literally jumps off the wall it is so powerful. It sold for $314,500.
Lot 345, "Untitled (Durga)," by Manjit Bawa, oil on canvas, 68 1/2 by 81 inches
Deepanjana Klein said this was one of the last paintings he was able to do.
Lot 365, “Untitled (Sitar Player),” by Maqbool Fida Husain, circa late 1960s, oil on canvas, 38 1/8 x 68 inchesThere are few sounds or symbols that evoke
The energy level
explodes and the imagery and subject matter grows more intense in the work of
Lot 382, “Red Carpet III,” by Rashid Rana, 2007, chromogenic print and Diasic mounted, 52 3/8 by 72 inches; number one from an edition of five plus one artist’s proof
Rashid Rana (b. 1968) is a
Pakistani artist who lives and works in
Lot 383, “Two Cows,” by Subodh Gupta, 2005, bronze and aluminum with chrome, 42 by 73 by 18 inches; bicycle; 24 by 12 by 9 inches; four milk cans; 22.5 by 11 by 9 inches; two milk cans; 19 by 11 by 8 inches; two milk cans. Number one from an edition of three
Contemporary Indian artists
like Subodh Gupta (b. 1964) have resonated enormously with collectors and audiences
globally and in
Christie's catalogue notes of “Two Cows:”
“By combining two practical objects Subodh eliminates the inherent functionality of both and then recasts the once simple vehicle of sustenance and transportation as a precious luxury commodity. Working in the same spirit as Duchamp's readymade, in which he mounted a bicycle wheel on a bar stool rendering both functional items useless, Subodh segregates the form of an object and its function and condenses it all into an archetype - be it sacred or profane - of Indian art. The action of the artist then is the greatest function of all.”
Lot 388, “Densely Packed,” by Subodh Gupta, 2004, oil on canvas, 65 5/8 x 89 5/8 inches
In “Overview and Highlights of Asian Art Week” Gupta’s “Untitled,” (Lot 347, estimate $200,000-300,000, illustrated below), a painting featuring contemporary stainless steel sieves and ladles that can be found in homes and shops across India, is compared with an ancient silver Roman or Gandharan sieve and an extremely rare ancient ladle from Gandhara, both dating from the 1st century B.C. to early 1st century A.D., from the Collection of Julian Sherrier. This collection is from the sale of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, on September 14, 2010. It sold for $242,500.
Lot 347, “Untitled,” by Subodh Gupta, 2004, oil on canvas, 66 by 90 ¼ inches
notions of "emptiness within the riches of vessels is an interesting
point of departure for Gupta. His deceptively simple-looking
works carved in the high-gloss sheen of the familiar, homely, stainless
steel forms, are a commentary on contemporary India, transitions, and
the inherent contradictions of globalization," according to the
"The notions of "emptiness within the riches of vessels is an interesting point of departure for Gupta. His deceptively simple-looking works carved in the high-gloss sheen of the familiar, homely, stainless steel forms, are a commentary on contemporary India, transitions, and the inherent contradictions of globalization," according to the catalogue.
Santosh’s bold paintings exude an angst we can identify with because they often
depict disturbing current events and trends we would rather avoid that play out
in the media and in life. But we cannot avoid the subject matter he chooses to
transcribe, which gives his paintings great power.
Lot 387, “Scars of an Ancient Error,” by T.V. Santosh, 2006, oil on canvas, 54 by 70 inches
T. V. Santosh’s super-charged paintings take on the horrific effects of war, terrorism, bloodshed and violence. In this work “he implores the audience to re-evaluate the politics of war and terrorism – a plea to identify the real enemy," according to the catalogue.
Lot 354, “Untitled,” by T.V. Santosh, 2008, oil on canvas, 48 by 72 inches
Lot 392, “Kalki,” by Atul Dodiya, 2002, enamel paint on metal roller shutter and acrylic and marble dust on canvas, 108 ¼ inches by 72 inches. Shutter down.
Lot 392, “Kalki,”
estimated at $180,000 to $250,000, is the beguiling “shop shutter” installation by
Atul Dodiya described earlier, and one of the glories of this sale. It is
reproduced here several times, in various stages of “open” and “closed,” with
Deepanjana Klein officiating as “opener” and “closer,” revealing the painting
behind it. These shutters are common in stores across
Lot 392, “Kalki,” by Atul Dodiya, with shutter opened half-way by Deepanjana Klein
Lot 392, “Kalki,” by Atul Dodiya with shutter opened all the way by Deepanjana Klein, showing the painting beneath the painting.
Watching that shutter go up – and then come down – on “Kalki,” a contemporary “ready-made,” was a sublime experience, simultaneously magical and childlike. It was fun to be included in this very special show. Christie’s catalog for this sale notes:
and history of
Lot 386, “Karuna,” by Atul Dodiya, 2004-2006, enamel paint, synthetic varnish and acrylic epoxy on laminate, 172 inches by 48 inches
It was a difficult work to leave “Kalki” behind but thankfully there was another stunning work by Dodiya, entitled “Karuna,” (Lot 386, estimate $100,000 to $150,000), an allegorical collage reminiscent of Bollywood billboards and posters that proliferate in any available space in India – often superimposed on posters of past films. This is as deliciously Indian as it gets. It sold for $110,500.
Lot 408, “
Anju Dodiya’s marvellous “Garden of Capillaries,” (Lot 408, estimate $80,000 to $120,000), is a whimsical self-portrait bearing many of her familiar materials, themes and motifs – watercolor, charcoal, upholstery, theatrical and imaginary realms, masks – that work amazingly well together and result in compelling paintings like this. Anju Dodiya was born in 1964. Lot 408 sold for $86,500.
Lot 352, “Untitled,” by Jyothi Basu, (estimate $60,000 to $80,000), features a landscape that evokes electronic circuitry: “They (the landscapes) respond to how our advancement often forgets our history and comment at the same time on how the contemporary can only exist and is made possible by the seemingly neglected historical buttress.” (Jyothi Basu; Landscapes Towards a Supreme Fiction, Press Release, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, 2006, reprinted from Christie’s catalog for this sale). It failed to sell.
Two paintings by Gulam Rasool Santosh, (1927-1997), are illustrated here, and are fine examples of Neo-Tantrism, that was inspired by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain concepts of dualities between male and female - Shiva and Shakti - and between macrocosm and microcosm. Lot 324 sold for $18,750.
Among the fine selection of
artworks on offer at this sale are many gems by Jamini Roy, and works by many
more artists, unfortunately it is not possible to illustrate or cite them all.
Lower Right: Lot 316, “Untitled (Mother and Child),” by Jamini Roy, (1887-1972), gouache on card, 27 inches by 14 1/8 inches, with many other works by the artist
“Untitled (Mother and Child),” (Lot 316, estimate $8,000 to $10,000) rendered with
Matisse-like virtuosity in gouache on card, which is extremely difficult to do,
and “Untitled (Parvati and Ganesh with Attendants),” (
Lot 314, “Untitled (Parvati and Ganesh with Attendants),” by Jamini Roy, gouache on paper with woven silk, cotton and mirror border, 17 5/8 inches by 22 inches
Shrimp and fish are to
Lot 303, “Untitled (Cats with Shrimp),” by Jamini Roy, gouache on card, 29 7/8 inches by 25 ¼ inches
This wonderful painting has equally
fascinating provenance. Christie’s catalogue notes that it is from The Collection
of Margaret and Robert Jaffie: “Robert, a foreign-service officer, and Margaret
Jaffie, lived in
Deepanjana Klein said: “We are confident about this sale.”
There is every reason for confidence, because there are so many incredible paintings on offer at this sale.