Art/Auctions logo

Asia Week

New York, Rockefeller Center

South East Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

Tuesday March 23, 2010, 10 AM

Sale 2299

South East Asian Art

Tuesday March 23, 2 PM

Sale 2300

"A Theory of Antithesis" by Santosh

Lot 41, "A Theory of Antithesis," by T.V. Santosh, 2002, oil on canvas, 36 by 47 3/4 inches

By Michele Leight

Christie's Asia Week kicks off with "South East Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, a stunning collection of works by contemporary artists and sculptors, including M.F. Husain, T.V. Santosh, Vasudeo Gaitonde, Jamini Roy, Arpita Singh and Riyas Komu, among others. From Asia's past are highly collectible Indian Miniatures, elegant Gandharan sculptures, glowing gilt-bronzes, and Tibetan thankas.

"Untitled (Seated Woman)" by Roy

Lot 3 "Untitled (Seated Woman)," by Jamini Roy, signed in Bengali , gouache on card, 27 7/8 by 15 inches

Christie's galleries were packed with Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, including a winsome collection to be included in a sale entitled "For the Enjoyment of Scholars: Selections from the Robert H. Blumenfield Collection," which garnered enormous interest from prospective buyers, and was the subject of a lecture entitled "Reflections of the Chinese Scholar's World" by Rosemary Scott, International Academic Director, Asian Art, Christie's. The Bengali artist Jamini Roy is well represented at this sale with works like the elegant "Untitled (Seated Woman)," (Lot 3, estimate $18,000 to $22,000, illustrated), and two unusual works (not illustrated), formerly in the collection of Ambassador Stanislas Ostrorog, Ambassador of France to India and Nepal from 1951-60: Lot 8, "The Last Supper," (estimate $20,000 to $25,000) and Lot 11, "Mother and Child," with an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.

"The well edited sale generated immense and competitive bidding for some of the finest modern and contemporary works from India and South Asia, illustrating the importance of quality and condition. It was fantastic to witness so many new, as well as established clients in the room, on the phones, and on Christie's LIVE making the atmosphere in the room very energetic. This is a great start of the new season," declared Hugo Weihe, Christie's International Specialist Head of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art.

Of the 91 offered lots, 75 sold for $8,937,00.

"Sita Hanuman" by Husain

Lot 30, "Sita Hanuman," by Maqbool Fida Husain, 1979, oil on canvas, 38 1/8 by 70 1/8 inches

Lot 30, "Sita Hanuman," is an oil on canvas by Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915). It measures 38 1/8 by 70 1/2 inches and was created in 1979. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $842,500.

"Dhoban" by Husain

Lot 38, "Dhoban," by Maqbool Fida Husain, 1963, signed 'Husain' and further signed in Urdu (lower right), oil on canvas, 36 3/4 by 19 inches

"Lady with a Lamp" by Husain

Lot 17, "Untitled (Lady with Lamp), by Maqbool Fida Husain, signed in Hindi; further signed in Urdu (upper right), oil on canvas, 39 3/4 by 19 1/4 inches

Three impressive paintings by Maqbool Fida Husain are illustrated here. Lot 17, "Untitled (Lady with Lamp)," estimate $60,000 to $80,000, and Lot 38, "Dhoban," (estimate $80,000 to $120,000), are sophisticated, Cubist influenced works in luscious blue tones, while the magnificent "Sita Hanuman" (Lot 30, estimate $600,000 to $800,000), depicts Sita's rescue from Ravana by Hanuman, and one of the artists favorite subjects - horses - in the earth tones of India. This painting was executed at a particulary fertile time in the artists career, following international recognition after his inclusion in the Venice and Tokyo Biennales in the '50s, and exhibiting alongside Picasso in the Sao Paolo Biennales of the'50s and '70s: "Harry N. Abrams, an admirer of Husain's work, published one of the first monographs on any modern Indian artist - a seminal volume on Husain,"(Christie's catalog for this sale). Lot 38 sold for $254,000.

"Blue Abstract" by Gaitonde

Lot 18, "Blue Abstract," by Vasudeo Gaitonde, 1965, label 'Gallery Chemould Artist V. gaitonde, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 by 50 inches

"Blue" dazzles again in the masterful "Blue Abstract" by Vasudeo Gaitonde (1924-2001) (Lot 18, estimate $250,000 to $350,000), influenced by Abstract Expressionism, which was making an impact on the international arts scene at the time this work was painted. "Less is more" takes on a poetic quality under the brush of this superb artist, inviting quiet contemplation. This is definitely a painting to "live with," a prize for any collector. It sold for $554,500.

"Gestation" by Raza

Lot 40, "Gestation," by Syed Hyder Raza, 1989, acrylic on canvas, 39 3/8 by 78 3/4 inches

"Eglise jaune" by Raza

Lot 20, "Eglise Jaune," by Syed Hyder Raza, 1956, acrylic on paper laid on board, 19 3/8 by 25 1/8 inches

Two paintings by Syed Hyder Raza (b. 1920) were painted over thirty years apart, showing the artist's progression towards the simplified forms of Abstract Expressionism. Lot 40, "Gestation," with an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000, is rendered in the baked earth and primary colors of India, the circles and geometric forms invoking mandalas and yantras. Lot 40 sold for $1,202,500. The fluid forms of Lot 20, "Eglise Jaune," a jewel, estimate $70,000 to $90,000, bear little relationship to the now iconic, powerful geometric canvases associated with the artist. Lot 20 sold for $92,500.

"The Ritual" by Singh

Lot 72, "The Ritual," by Arpita Singh, 1989, oil on canvas, 66 by 60 1/8 inches

"The Future is the Past is the Present" by Acharya

Lot 55, "The Future is the Past is the Present ,"by Dhruvi Acharya, 2001, acrylic and paper collage on canvas, 33 by 36 inches.

The sweet coloring of "The Ritual, " by Arpita Singh (b. 1937)(Lot 72, estimate $150,000 to $250,000), belies the subject matter depicted - ritualistic human sacrifice in primitive societies. Similarly, the decetively poetic quality of "The Future is the Past is the Present," by Dhruvi Achraya (Lot 55, estimate $20,000 to $30,000), "embodies the psychological and emotional aspects of an urbn woman's life in a world teeming with discord, violence and pollution. " (Artists Statement,, Christies catalog for this sale). Skilfully incorporating comic book imagery, Indian Miniatures and flat Japanese painting, this artwork depicts the past, present and future of a contemporary woman's life, and the roles and responsibilities she must juggle. Lots 55 and 72 failed to sell.

"Bird, Tree and Mountain Series" by Swaminathan, left, and "Male Nude" by Souza, right

Left: Lot 21, "Untitled (Bird, Tree and Mountain Series)," by Jagdish Swaminathan, 1980, oil on canvas,31 1/8 by 45 1/4 inches; Right: Lot 28, "Male Nude, " by Francis Newton Souza, 1960, oil on masonite board, 47 7/8 by 23 3/4 inches

Elegaic and surreal, Lot 21, (estimate $160,000 to $180,000), "Untitled (Bird, Tree and Mountain Series), by Jagdish Swaminathan (1928-1994), exudes the warmth, sunshine and mysticsm of India, while "evoking formal facets seen in works by Paul Klee and Pahari miniatures."Christies catalog for this sale). Lot 21 sold for $182,500. It is illustrated here with Lot 28, "Male Nude," by Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002), 1960, with an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. Lot 28 sold for $122,500.

Untitled by Bawa

Lot 65, "Untitled," by Manjit Bawa, 1999, oil on canvas, 66 by 52 inches

Extraordinarily brilliant, "Untitled," by Manjit Bawa (1941-2008) (Lot 65, estimate $120,000 to $180,000), depicting a modern Durga and her lion, almost holds its own with T.V. Santosh's compelling contemporary warriors, resigned to a global crisis, war, terrorism and violence, we cannot be sure which, except that they are constant themes in the artist's work. Lot 65 sold for $434,500. Lot 42, "Untitled," by T. V. Santosh b. 1968), an oil on canvas that measures 48 by 72 inches, has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. Lot 42 sold for $92,500.

Lot 41, illustrated at the top of this story, "A Theory of Antithesis," (2002), also by T.V. Santosh, but a-typically monochromatic, was inspired by the philosopher Hegel's "idea of history and progress." The catalogue notes that the artist says "that the form of historical movement, the process or progress, is the result of conflicting opposites. This area of Hegel's thought has been broken down in terms of the categories of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. All things contained within themselves carry dialectical contradictions, which are the primary cause of motion, change and development in the world." Lot 41 has an estimate of . It sold for $74,500.


Indian and South East Asian Art

"head of a Jina" red sandstone, India, Gupta Period, mid-5th Century

Lot 167, "A highly important mottled red sandstone head of a Jina," India, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, Gupta Period, mid 5th century, 21 inches high, estimate $250,000 to $350,000

The imposing head featured here, "A highly important mottled red sandstone head of a Jina," India, Mathura, Utta Pradesh, Gupta Period, mid-5th Century, (Lot 167, estimate $250,000 to $350,000) is softened by beautifully sculpted and textured red sandstone. It sold for $986,500.

Bakakrishna, South India, bronze

Lot 175," A bronze figure of Balakrishna," South India, Tamilnadu, Chola period, 12th century, 16 1/2 inches high

The marvellous bronze, Lot 175, "A bronze figure of Bakakrishna," (estimate $150,000 to $250,000), with arm and leg raised, is a reminder of the nationwide love of dance in India - although this might just be one of the many Yoga stances that are also woven into the fabric of Indian life, even in the 21st century. It failed to sell.

Ivory Bengal altarpiece

Lot 181, "An Ivory altarpiece of Durga Mahishasuramardin,"India, Bengal, dated 1836, 21 inches high, estimate $20,000-30,000

Lot 181, "An Ivory alterpiece of Durga Mahishasuramadin," the superbly carved Durga shown here, was "most likely presented by Mubarak Ali Khan II (r. 1810-1838), Nawab of Bengal, to King William VI (d. 1837)," cites Christie's catalogue. Durga is the subject of several iconic paintings by the deceased contemporary Indian artist Tyeb Mehta, seen here in sculptural form on her lion in deadly combat with her adversary, the Buffalo demon Mahisasura. A formidable goddess, Durga is flanked by Lakshmi and Saraswati anchored on lotus bases, and Ganesha and Skanda on their mounts. This incredible confluence of good battling evil is mounted on a carved ivory table set against an architectural backdrop inlaid with mirror. Framing the whole like a halo is a beautiful arched frame carved in relief with other deities. The reverse is incscribed "His Highness of Bengal" and "Toolsee Ram Maker 1836", and includes the labels "Art Treasures Exhibition 1857" and King George V. Lot 181 has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $470,500!

Maitreya, gray schist, Gandhara

Lot, 144," A Gray Schist Figure of Maitreya," Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century, 21 7/8 inches high

Seated gray schist Maitreya

Lot 147, "A Large Gray Schist Figure of a Seated Maitreya," Gandhara, 3rd century, 32 3/4 inches high, estimate $80,000-100,000

"A Gray Schist Figure of Maitreya," from Gandhara (Lot 144, estimate $50,000 to $70,000), in long flowing robes, and "A Large Gray Schist Figure of a Seated Maitreya," (Lot 147, estimate $80,000 to $100,000), with a vessel containing "the Exilir of Life, are studies in tranqulity after the sturm and drang of the goddess Durga. Lot 144 sold for $68,500. Lot 147 sold for $116,500.

Plaque of Harihara between two thankas

Lot 262, "A large gilt and polychromed copper repousse plaque of Harihara," Nepal, dated NS 965 (1845 AD), 30¾ inches high, shown here beteween two thankas

Lot 262, "A large gilt and ploychromed copper repousse plaque of Harihara" flanked by two vibrant thankas has an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. Harihara has four arms, one holding a trident, another the chakra, while both front arms hold the rosary and conch shell - an arsenal guaranteed to banish evil. It sold for $4,750.

Not shown here is Lot 153, (estimate $1,000 to $1,500), "A Terracotta Figure of Ganesha,"from India, Gupta period, 5th century, 8 inches high, a beloved deity that appears in many forms - on calendars and billboards, as statues, or souvenirs - across India, as well as more imposingly in sumptuous temples and ancient carvings weathered by centuries of heat and dust. The lovable god is depicted seated on a throne with his trunk dipping into a bowl of sweets. Generously proportioned with a rotund belly, Ganesha clearly enjoys his food. It sold for $3,750.

Indian Miniatures

Ghagavata Purana, wedding of Krishna and Rukmini

Lot 205, "A folio from the Bhagavata Purana: The Wedding of Krishna and Rukmini," India, Bikaner, circa 1710, opaque pigments, gold and silver on wasli, 12 by 14 3/4 inches.

Indian miniatures are becoming more and more appreciated by a wider audience, and the gorgeous examples here offer insights why. Lot 205, "A folio from the Bhagavata: The Wedding of Krishna and Rukmini," (estimate $15,000 to $20,000), features a royal couple surrounded by attendants on a beautiful vehanda open to the skies, with a garden in the distance, with musicians are on hand to entertain.

Water buffalo tournament

Lot 202, "A large painting of a Maharana entertained by a water buffalo tournament," India, Rajasthan, 18th century, Opaque pigments and gold on wasli, 19 by 24 inches

Lot 202, (estimate $40,000 to $60,000), offers a more macho form of entertainment for a maharana and his attendants - a buffalo fight in the courtyard below his beautiful marble palace. Fellow buffalos and an elephant wait patiently, like gladiators, for their turn to duke it out before an enthralled audience. "A large painting of a Maharana entertained by a water buffalo tournament" is unusually large for an Indian Miniature, perhaps because there is so much to squeeze into the composition. It failed to sell.


Lot 186, "A painting from the Harivamsa," North India, Kangra or Guler, circa 1820, Opaque pigments and gold on wasli, 15 3/8 by 18 3/4 inches

The pleasure intensifies in Lot 186, "A painting from Harivamsa," (An Account of the Dynasty of Hari - Vishnu - from the Mahabarata]), with Lord Krishna centre stage in a yellow dhoti, and his companions cavorting playfully with scantily clad women in the Jamuna River. Their hastily removed clothing forms an abstract pattern of intense colors on the riverbank. Lot 186 has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $56,250.

Portrait of Saulat Jang

Lot 184, "A portrait of Saulat Jang, Nawab of Tonk, India, Oudh or Murshidabad, circa 1750, 16 1/4 x 13 1/2 inches

It would seem from Indian Miniatures that royalty were either weilding jewel encrusted swords on the battlefield, getting married, attending unbelievably opulent durbars, or indulging themselves in a wide variety of pleasures, like the hookah. Lot 184, estimate $10,000 $15,000, illustrated above, shows the Nawab of Tonk seated on a Persian rug under an elegant canopy, enjoying the quiet pleasures of huqqa. The setting is nirvana, with comfortable cusions, fountains and flowers, open to the skies dotted with non-threatening clouds. The good life. It sold for $8,125.

After the sale Hugo Weihe remarked that "heated bidding was seen in all categories" and that the "sale reflects a reinvigorated interest in the classical field with cross-over buying from new collectors including interest from South Asia."


Use the Search Box below to quickly look up articles at this site on specific artists, architects, authors, buildings and other subjects





Home Page of The City Review