South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art
Lot 238, "Grey Landscape," by Syed Haider Raza, acrylic on canvas,
1965; Center: Lot 230, "Untitled (Bull)," by Tyeb Mehta, 2000,
acrylic on canvas
Illustrated above - center - is Lot 230, "Untitled (Bull)," by Tyeb Mehta, an acrylic on canvas painted in 2000. This
wonderful, energetic painting features a common subject for the artist
- a mytholgical bull - this time, as in many other paintings,
struggling with itself. The catalogue includes fascinating insights
including the observation that the bull "is depicted by Mehta as
victimized by circumstances, fate, and damnation. However, Mehta imbues
his figures with a quiet dignity as he immortalizes them in his works
in a timeless spatial expanse."
Lot 230 has an estimate of $ 2,000,000-3,000,000. It sold for $2,285,000.
238, "Grey Landscape," by Syed Haider Raza, an acrylic on canvas, circa
1965, is illustrated on the left, and has an estimate of
$100,000-150,000. Sadly, it passed.
Lot 278, "Traces of Man - The Unknown Soldier-1," Rameshwar Brootha, 1999, oil on canvas
The wonderful painting illustrated above is Lot 278, "Traces of Man - The Unknown Soldier-1," by Rameshwar Brootha,
a departure from the artist's brooding men, which have become his
trademark. It is always refreshing to see something new from an artist.
Christie's catalogue for this sale notes:
his overtly figurative and political works of the previous decades, in
the 1990s Rameshwar Brootha began working on a series of large
monochromatic, semi-abstract canvases with intricately textured
surfaces that featured free-floating architectural forms and
half-concealed figures. These paintings are not abstract, even though
the human figure is not their main focus or concern. Although Brootha's
'man' may be absent or only partially visible in these existential
canvases, he is represented through the remnants of his constructions.
Through these half-images, Brootha explores the shadowy anonymity that
society imposes on the contemporary individual, and the insidious
violence of this phenomenon..." (Christie's catalogue for this sale)
Lot 278 has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $245,000.
Sharma, Christie's Managing Director, India, with Lot 261, "Untitled
(Round Table)," by Krishen Khanna, 1970s, oil on canvas
Sharma, Managing Director of Christie's, India, posed with the
fascinating painting illustrated above - Lot 261, "Untitled (Round
Table)," by Krishen Khanna, depicting rather jaded gentlemen
dressed in dinner jackets, who are supposedly warmongers. Christie's
catalogue for this sale notes: "Extending his own anti-establishment
rhetoric, and laying the foundation for the acerbic political
narratives of artists like Rameshwar Brootha and Arpita Singh, here
Khanna points the finger at warmongers. In this painting, the artist
correlates the massive displacement and loss of life that resulted from
political violence in the Subcontinent with just another series of
meetings and negotiations between starred generals and greedy
politicians and businessmen across the conference tables far removed
from the frontlines. In these dark works, as one critic noted, 'The
compositions portray how (war) is 'played' around the table, the brass
hats at conference at the army of field head quarters and the war
mongers and ammunition magnates talking 'shop' over brandy and
cigars.'" (G. Sinha, Krishen Khanna, New Delhi, 2001). Lot 261 has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $112,500.
Left: Lot 220, "La Terre," by Syed Haider Raza, 1973, acrylic on canvas; Right: The beautiful bird is Lot 248,"Untitled," by Sankho Chauduri, steel and wooden base
the distinction of its own wall for a single painting in a gallery
packed with canvases and sculpture, Syed Haider Raza's "La Terre" (Lot
220) was the star of the show, whose importance was also upheld in
Christie's catalogue for this sale:
"Syed Haider Raza was a
founding member of the revolutionary Bombay 'Progressive Artist's'
group formed in the year of India's Independence, 1947. Now well
establlished as modern master of international renown, he first came to
worldwide prominence in Paris in the late 1950s and 60s after moving to
the city in 1950. 'I am grateful [...] that I could come to certain
recognition in the art world in France and the rest of the world. But I
was still unhappy. I said to myself: Yes, it is all right to be an
important painter of the Ecole de Paris, but where is your Indian
background Raza? I asked myself and I started coming more and more
regularly to India." (Artist statement in 'A conversation with Raza,'
Raza A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2007,
unpaginated) Whilst Raza spent over 60 years of his atistic career
living in France, India and specifically the Indian landscape persisted
and resonated within him and his practice. Geeta Kapur stated :[...] in
nostalgia perhaps on the land he left behind when he settled in Paris,
S.H. Raza opted wholeheartedly for the rhapsodic, nature based
abstraction. The nostaliga was fierce and the earth was a conflagration
of colors." (G. Kapur, 'Excerpt from different chapters of Contemporary
Artists,' Unerstanding Raza: Many Ways of Looking at a Master, New
Lot 220, "La Terre," by Syed Haider Raza, painted in 1973, has an estimate on request. It sold for $3,105,000, (US Private).
Lot 248 has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $7,500.
234, "Untitled," by Subodh Gupta, 2007, oil on canvas; Right: Lot 236,
"Dis-Location-2" by Rashid Rana, 2007, chromogenic print and diasec
Gupta's work needs no introduction. Its visual vocabulary of stainless
steel kitchen utensils and other staples of Indian culture, such as the
tiffin carriers featured above, are present in every traditional - and
contemporary - Indian home. They have even become the subject of
popular films like "the Lunchbox." Whatever their function in a time
of great change for India, these are beloved relics from India's
culinary past. While they
are not considered conveniently contemporary - not plastic and light, a
hassel to open and close - it is imposible to think of not having a tiffin carrier in an Indian kitchen. Anachronistic and beloved, they have become indispensible:
however, these quotidian vessels are use by Middle-class Indians as
dishes and cooking implements in place of the porcelain or glassware
brought out for guests and special occasions. The vessels are also
aspirational objects of desire for the under-classes. Gupta is
particularly sensitive to this societal stratum as Bihar, his home
province, is associated with backwardness and lawlessness..."
(Christie's catalogue for this sale)
Lot 234, "Untitled," by Subodh Gupta, has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $125,000.Lot
236, "Dis-Location-2," by Rahid Rana, a chromogenic print with diasec
executed in 2007, has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for
$27,500.Lot 271, "Untitled," by T.V. Santosh, 2007, oil on canvas Left: Lot 233, "Off Center," by Bharti Kher, 2008, felt bindis on painted board; Right: Lot 267, "Universal Recipient," by Jitish Kallat, 2008-09, acrylic on canvas with bronze sculpture supports
267, "Universal Recipient," by Jitish Kallat, acrylic on canvas,
with bronze sculpture supports, (illustrated above right), is a
personal favourite, perhaps because it is the kind of face that is
imprinted in my memories of India. The proud, aspiring, tired
masses that somehow hold their own - tenuously, as suggested by the
expression on the subject's face - in the free-for-all of survival in
the worlds largest democracy. This is the fate of so many that
despite all of India's fantastic success and upward mobility. What also
persists is their optimism, and their heart. Christie's catalogue
for this sale notes:
Kallat's series of Universal Recipient paintings continues his
exploration of this home town, Mumbai. Kallat is drawn to individuals
that are often downtrodden or even dispossessed: for example, his
earlier Dawn Chorus series saw the artist depict images of street
urchins. However, rather than realize these children in their specific
environment, or evince any sense of their reduced circumstances, Kallat
seemed to celebrate their resilience and enterprising spirit..." and
"The present series seeing Kallat engage with another group of Mumbai
residents, security guards. These figures, older now, are the street
urchins as adults - who take their responsibility as a guard very
seriously, reflected in the painting by their probing gaze and stoic
mein. The Universal Recipient paintings depict the security guards
often seen minding residential premises in the suburbs of Mumbai,
quietly observing urban life in the sprawling Indian metropolis. Their
pensive features seem to encapsulate Kallat's description of them as
raconteurs of Mumbai's inner secrets..."
Lot 267 has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $112,500.
on the right is wonderful Lot 233, "Off-Center," by Bharti Kher, that
emits the exuberance - and joyfullness - that many associate with
the artist's work. The catalogue for this sale includes a quote by the
"If I could remake my artistic career, I think I would
be a minimalist painter. All the art that I love comes from the
tradition of reduction but I can't because I'm super maximum!"
Lot 233 has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It passed, sadly.
271, "Untitled," an unsettling - and compelling - image by T.V.
Santosh, (illustrated above), has a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 to
The depiction of males with partially covered faces in the artists's iconic paintings has
become familiar. His signature - strange, jarring - colors heighten the sense of
drama, the calm before the storm. Painterly, and packed with wall power, these paintings by Santosh are highly collectible. Lot 271 sold for $30,000.
South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale achieved
$7,242,500. 53 of the 73. The sale was 68% sold by lot and 75% by
value. The top
selling lot of the sale was Lot 220, "La Terre," by Syed Haider Raza, a
suitable outcome for a work of this quality. Tyeb
Mehta's magnificent "Untitled (Bull)" came in second, selling for
$2,285,000, with a pre-sale estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.
sale "Francis Newton Souza: A Life Partnership in Art, The Shelley
Souza Collection" achieved $2,842,375. It was 91% sold by lot and 97%
sold by value.
The combined total for South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art was $10,000,000.
Klein, Head of Sale, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, New York,
commented, “This sale of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
demonstrated a tremendous amount of international interest, with buyers
of the top lots bidding eagerly from around the globe for these
significant works. The top lot of the sale, Syed Haider Raza’s La
Terre, sold to an American collector for $3.1 million, the second
highest price for the artist at auction.”
Hugo Weihe, International
Director of Asian Art and International Specialist Head, South Asian
Modern + Contemporary Art Department, New York, added, “The Shelley
Souza Collection performed exceptionally well and saw the institutional
participation, cementing Francis Newton Souza’s reputation as one of
the greatest figures in Indian Modernism. It was truly a rare
opportunity to acquire these exceptional works, many of which have
never been seen before. The enthusiasm in the room, on the phone, and
via Christie’s LIVE™ led to a combined total of $10 million for the category of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art this season.”