Christie’s September sale - mix of old and young masters

August 15th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Aug 15 (IANS) International auction house Christie’s is all set to spice up sales in mid September here with its 140 lots of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, which will see major works from modern masters to cutting edge artists like Tyeb Mehta, M.F Husain, J. Swaminathan, Ram Kumar and Subodh Gupta. The sale desires to succeed an overall estimate of $12 million. The highlights include a 1979 Tyeb Mehta Untitled (’Yellow Heads’) assessed at $300,000-500,000 (Rs.12.7 million-Rs.25.5 million). This painting is reminiscent of Tyeb’s diagonal series in which he divides the plane of the canvas with a prominent slanting line.

M.F. Husain’s “Ritual”, valued in the bracket of $600,000-800,000, reflects Husain’s sensibility that grew out of the roots of Cubism, Expressionism and Abstraction.

The sale also features an important work by Ram Kumar, who was influenced by names like Modigliani and Leger. The Untitled work, created in 1961, is estimated in the range of $500,000-700,000.

Indian abstract guru J. Swaminathan, who was known to inspire many a young artist at Bhopal Bhavan is represented by a work that seeks its inspiration from folk and tribal art, miniatures as well as Indian mythology. His Untitled work here is from his “Bird and Mountain” Series and is estimated at $300,000-500,000.

Also in the sale is Rameshwar Broota’s “The Same Old Story II”, a 1979 oil on canvas, pegged poignantly in the range of $150,000-200,000.

Manjit Bawa’s Untitled, an amazing oil, painted in 1992 is placed in the bracket of $150,000-200,000. This is an unusual Krishna with an embellished head dress of a single peacock feather and wispy white and lavender structures beaming out of his head. Interestingly Bawa’s work is the image on Christie’s card for its Aug 20 preview in New Delhi.

Among the contemporary art offerings in the younger set of artists, Subodh Gupta’s symbolism is shown by two major works. “Miter”, revolving around stainless steel and stainless steel utensils, boasts of an estimate of $600,000-800,000. This work is the third in an edition of three. In the same vein, Gupta’s oil on canvas, “Steal 2″, is priced at $800,000-1 million.

Most important however in terms of artistic import is Mumbai-dwelling Kerala artist Riyas Komu who is set to blaze Berlin’s Bodhi Art in October with a solo showing. At the Christie’s sale here, Komu’s “Designated March of a Petro-Angel”, an oil on canvas, is estimated at $60,000-80,000. This work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2007.

The art work belongs to a series of monumental photo-realist images of a bewildered, veiled Iranian woman looking dramatically in different directions, struggling to find her place in society. It was among the strongest contemporary paintings on show in Venice and Komu co-opted an Islamic vocabulary to make the work speak of an international as well as urgent resonance.

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