Mon, May 16, 2016

Art & Auctions
Indian art on offer at Bonhams sale

Bonhams is to offer works by some of India’s top artists at its forthcoming Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale.

The sale will be held on May 27 at Bonham’s main salesroom at New Bond Street in London, UK.

Burgeoning interest in Indian art in recent years has heightened the awareness for South Asian modern painting, and demand has rocketed, with many previously relatively unknown artists becoming household names. 

The sale is curated to highlight the varied artistic output across the regions of India, and will encompass some of the country’s endlessly varied cultures and influences.

This sale includes works from the Bengal School, including Sudhir Khastgir and Ramkinkar Baij, demonstrating the early influence of East Asian wash techniques and the emerging pan-Asian aesthetic. 

The influence of these early artists, straddling the era of British rule and independence, feeds into the contemporary pieces in the sale by Bikash Bhattacharjee and Sakti Burman. Romanticised, idyllic pastoral scenes by Sailoz Mookherjea, S H Raza and M F Husain are offered along with more conventionally modernist works by Francis Newton Souza and S H Raza.

Tahmina Ghaffar, Head of Sale for Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, said: ‘Bonhams is always looking for previously undervalued artists, to bring them to light and to give them the attention they deserve. The sale features a number of works fresh to the market from esteemed private collections in Europe and the US, catering to the growing sophistication of Indian art collectors. We’re confident we will continue our trajectory of success in the Indian art market.

Among the highlights are an untitled work from Souza carrying an estimate of £15,000-18,000 ($21,500-26,000).

Souza is known for his energetic and often highly erotic work, and has achieved record-breaking prices for Indian artists over the years. The famed critic John Berger described him as an artist who “straddles many traditions but serves none.” His relentless creative force is very much apparent in this landscape, which depicts a frenzied and foreboding world. 

“Souza brings a sense of macabre, black comedy to his work,” said Ghaffar. “This piece is a wonderful example of the wild and farcical phase he went through during the early sixties.”

Souza had founded the Bombay progressive artists' group in 1947, a formative movement that aimed to propel Indian modern art onto the international stage.

Also on offer is a sculpture from New York-based Zarina Hashmi titled Ghar (House) and estimated at £6,000-8,000 ($8,600-11,500).

Hashmi is well known for her versatility in medium and her abstract, minimal style. She was one of the five artists selected to be in India’s first official entry to the Venice Biennale in 2011, and has had retrospectives at the Hammer museum in Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Guggenheim New York. 

“This rare sculpture, one of the two lots on offer by Hashmi at the sale, is a wonderfully minimalist commentary on the movement of people and the search for an identity beyond mere national borders,” said Ghaffar.

Another highlight is Untitled (Tomorrow), a visceral, vibrant oil painting by Nalini Malani and estimated at £15,000-20,000 ($21,500-29,000).

Known for her video art and installations, in 2013 Malani became the first Asian woman to receive the Arts & Culture Fukuoka Prize for her "consistent focus on such daring contemporary and universal themes as religious conflict, war, oppression of women and environmental destruction.” 

In October 2017, Malani will be the first Indian artist to have a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Founded in 1793, Bonhams is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The main salerooms are in London, New York and Hong Kong. Sales are also held in the UK in Knightsbridge and Edinburgh; in the US, in San Francisco and Los Angeles; in Europe, in Paris and Stuttgart and in Sydney, Australia. Bonhams also has a network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 areas.

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