Landmark masterpieces by art stalwarts to debut at auction

By Siddhi Jain

This September, a selection of iconic masterpieces by some of India’s most distinguished artists will go under the hammer at AstaGuru’s upcoming Modern Indian Art Online Auction. The online auction will be held on September 8-9, 2021 and includes works by modern masters such as M F Husain, S H Raza, Krishen Khanna, Bhupen Khakhar, F N Souza, Anjolie Ela Menon, K K Hebbar, Ganesh Pyne, and Jamini Roy.

This well-curated collection includes several important works from prolific periods in the artists’ careers, many of which come


from significant collections within India and abroad.

Speaking about the collection, Sneha Gautam, Vice President — Client Relations, AstaGuru, said, “The demand for modern Indian art has increased exponentially in the last year, with the Indian art auction market having its strongest year ever. The Indian auction market witnessed the highest turnover till date with the demand for the Moderns increasing by over 65 per cent from the previous financial year. This further substantiates the great potential in the Indian art market, and while seasoned collectors continue to expand and enrich their collections, new bidders are constantly seeking to acquire works at every price point. This has inspired AstaGuru to curate an auction that presents the best that modern Indian art has to offer at varied price points where budding collectors can acquire quality works to commence their journeys, while at the same time allows seasoned buyers to acquire a masterpiece that defines Indian modernism.”

Making its auction debut and leading the sale, is M F Husain’s oil on canvas work from the year 1972, a highly significant work, originally from the Pitti family collection. Throughout his career, Husain formed strong relationships with several art connoisseurs and enjoyed the patronage of several collectors in India and abroad. He developed a close bond with Pitti who commissioned several masterpieces from the artist. Husain remained in close contact with Pitti for over three decades and even frequented his family property in Hyderabad where he’d spend large amounts of time and even created several works.

In the presented offering, Husain creates an iconic, anti-war painting as a response to the

SH Raza

Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which resulted in the India-Pakistan conflict. The shrouded identities of the political masters can be deciphered as the primary adversaries, Indira Gandhi — the Indian Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — Leader of West Pakistan and Mujibur Rahman — Leader of Bangladesh Resistance Movement, who later became the first Provisional President and the first elected Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

The diagonal figure, rendered levitating, almost suggesting a brooding sense of abandonment represents the war tone and wounded Indian sub-continent. Through this rare and important work, the artist showcases a rare glimpse into his political intellect, yet he stays true to his fundamental approach towards creating art that of being a humanist. Featured in the documentary ‘A Painter of Our Time’ directed by Santi P Chaudhury, the work indeed is an important creation from the master’s oeuvre and will be offered for the first time at auction with an estimate of Rs 3-4 crore.

Among the key highlights from the auction are extremely significant works from S H Raza’s illustrious career as one of the most important 20th-century painters in India’s history. These works celebrate Raza’s visual vocabulary and traverse his trajectory as a celebrated colourist, from his preoccupation with expressionism in the early 1970s to his transformation in the latter half of the decade, when he encompassed a new artistic direction exploring geometric forms and eventually mastering his “Bindu” series. It is estimated at Rs 1.8-2 crore and will be offered at an auction for the very first time. 

Manjit Bawa, Flying, 1978, an early composition by the artist will be appearing at auction after nearly 24 years at an estimate of Rs 60-70 lakh. It provides a glimpse into Bawa’s trajectory as an artist and acts as a precursor to several works he created with a similar central figure. 

The auction features a rare Untitled, 1994, painted stoneware ceramic by acclaimed artist Bhupen Khakhar, who is considered an iconoclast for expressing his views on important subject matter from social sectarianism to his own homosexuality. This one-of-a-kind composition by Khakhar was created in Amsterdam and is painted elaborately on all sides. It will be offered for the first time at auction.

Jamini Roy, Untitled, circa 1950, is a unique and rare work which will appear at auction for the first time. The work’s detailing and scale acclaims Jamini Roy’s stature of being one of India’s most important modern artists. The auction will also feature an Untitled, circa 1930 portrait from the limited oeuvre of Hemendranath Mazumdar, who became one of the few Indian artists of the early 20th century to gain monetary as well as critical appreciation for this work. It will make its debut at AstaGuru’s Modern Indian Art auction. (IANSlife)

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