Showing posts with label souza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label souza. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seminal Masterpiece by Syed Haider Raza Leads Christie's Sale

Syed Haider Raza (b.1922), "Saurashtra", 1983. Estimate: £1.3 million-1.8 million. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010.

LONDON.- On 10 June, the day after Christie’s unprecedented sale of art works selected from the Estate of Francis Newton Souza, the momentum continues with Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction. The renewed confidence in the market for this category was signalled by the success of the New York sale in March, which realised $8.9 million and was 95% sold by value, with many new private collectors bidding. The international appeal of this field continues to grow, with participation from buyers in Singapore, Hong Kong, U.A.E, the United States and Europe. The London sale is led by Saurashtra, 1983, a seminal masterpiece by Syed Haider Raza (b.1922) (estimate: £1.3 million-1.8 million), which is the most valuable modern Indian work of art ever offered at auction. This auction presents an exhilarating array of important works from private collections, with excellent provenance by the leading Indian and Pakistani artists of 20th and 21st century. Featuring the celebrated masters of the Progressive Artists Group, through to the biggest names in contemporary art, attractive estimates cross the spectrum of artists, styles and media with estimates ranging from £1,000 to £1.8 million. The sale is expected to realise in excess of £4 million. Please see the separate press release for details on the sale of art works selected from the Estate of Francis Newton Souza.

Yamini Mehta, Christie’s Senior Specialist, Director, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, London: “The global art market is receptive to the best. As international collectors converge in London this June prior to heading to Art Basel, where an increased number of South Asian Art will be on view this year, we are thrilled to be offering iconic works by the masters as well as important contemporary works, including examples by Pakistani artists. It is important that Christie’s, as well as galleries, art fairs and institutions, continue - as they do - to broaden concepts of what constitutes Sub-Continental art.”


The top lot of the sale is the most valuable modern Indian art work ever to be offered at auction: Syed Haider Raza’s Saurashtra, 1983, (estimate: £1.3 million-1.8 million), from a Private French Collector who acquired it directly from the artist, illustrated above. This large work (78¾ x 78¾ in. / 200 x 200 cm.), by one of India's leading modern masters, belongs to a key period in Raza's career when his artistic path brought him full circle and he began to integrate vital elements of his Indian childhood and cultural heritage into his paintings. Combining powerful and expressive brushstrokes with a very rich palette, Saurashtra provides a transitional bridge into his structured geometric works which are characteristic of his most recent body of paintings. Exploring landscape and nature; gesture and expression; geometry and spiritualism, this painting is one of Raza's most ambitious works to date. This is a remarkable opportunity for collectors and institutions around the world.

Further Modern Highlights:

• Untitled (Arjuna and Krishna), circa 1980s, by Maqbool Fida Husain (b.1915) (estimate: £500,000-700,000) which portrays the heroes of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. The strong influence of classical Indian painting and sculptural traditions upon Husain is evident in this work, which exemplifies the characteristic energy of Husain’s canvases.

• Falling Bird, 1999 is a tour de force by Tyeb Mehta (1925 -2009), one of India's greatest Modernist masters (estimate: £400,000-600,000). Having executed only a relatively small body of work, it is very rare that such an important example comes to auction. With mythological thematic roots, this work skilfully combines concept, line, colour and composition.

• Untitled (Gulammohammed Sheikh with Tom Hancock), circa 1970s by Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2004) (estimate: £100,000-150,000). Gulammohammed Sheikh was Khakhar’s lifelong friend; Tom Hancock (1930-2006), a British architect who taught at Baroda during the seventies and designed the Battersea Peace Pagoda in London, also became part of the artist’s circle. Drawing inspiration from the West and India, this painting stylistically alludes to early Italian painting and Bengali pata painting from Kalighat, but also imbues the spirit of Henri Rousseau and David Hockney.

Contemporary Works:

The strong array of contemporary art featured provides collectors with an opportunity to acquire significant works by some of the best known South Asian practitioners today. Subodh Gupta is one of India's leading contemporary artists, whose powerful vocabulary is firmly rooted in the vernacular of everyday India. Chimta, 2003, (estimate: £200,000-300,000), transforms hundreds of stainless steel tongs or 'chimta' - a common Indian kitchen staple used for handling chapatti and naan bread - into a metallic explosion of wonder. Offered from a private European collection, this semi-globed constellation continues the legacy of Duchamp’s ready-mades whilst simultaneously revealing the sensuous splendour of familiar objects, as if they are precious or luxurious commodities. Gupta stirs questions about the dramatic changes and shifts that accompany India's strengthening economy and its effect on the country's deeply spiritual and ancient culture.

Further Contemporary Highlights:

• Untitled by Ravinder Reddy (b.1956) (estimate: £90,000-120,000), who contemporises traditional Indian goddesses, whilst referencing Jeff Koons and playing with the American concept of "super-sizing." Through such transformations and re-appropriations of ancient Indian temple sculpture, the artist is possibly commenting on how India's religious and cultural histories are being diluted and Westernised by the surge of ‘progress.’

• Dis-location 3, 2007, by Rashid Rana (b. 1968) illustrated left (estimate: £60,000-80,000) who charts a new course with his ‘Dis-location’ series by using one location photographed over a duration of twenty four hours to create the large composite image of the same location. Disorienting the viewer’s sense of time and place, the 'pixels' of the work illustrate the frenetic nature of busy street life in contemporary Lahore, whilst the overall image possesses the charm of a historical photograph.

As printed in, 2nd June 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Get ready to pay Rs 100 cr for a single work of art

S.G Vasudev, courtesy Monsoon Canvas

As confidence for Indian modern art returns, prices will rise in the same proportion as they did in the last decade.
What are we to make of the sale of just two artworks at auctions this year equalling the size of the entire Indian market? Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust last week became the world’s highest-priced artwork when it was auctioned by Christie’s for Rs 478 crore, beating Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Walking Man I that was auctioned earlier in the year by Sotheby’s for Rs 468 crore. That the Indian art market is terribly undervalued hardly needs reiterating. But when it fell from Rs 1,500 crore in 2008 to about Rs 800-900 crore currently, the signals it sent out were not just about the low value attached to Indian artists but, more importantly, about the shortage of good art in the market.

In part, this is because what we refer to as “modern art” has had a very short history in India, with even fewer artists working in that style. How many of Raja Ravi Varma’s co-painters can we name? Or, for that matter, who were Amrita Sher-Gil’s contemporaries? Because “studios” hired painters to paint in the style that was then fashionable, works by even talented artists were attributed to an ambiguous “Anonymous” identity. Almost no research has been undertaken to identify who these artists were.

Since the forties, we have seen more works by more artists, but as compared to Western countries, the numbers have been low (because there were fewer patrons, perhaps — the “modern school did not appeal to everyone in India nurtured on a tradition of more sentimental aesthetics), and recognition for them even lower. A number of artists who worked through the fifties, sixties and seventies would have remained for all purposes unknown, had not the heady pursuit of scarce artworks and a booming art market in the last decade led to their resurrection from a state of near-anonymity.

High disposable incomes, the opening of Indian markets and an appreciation of things Indian drove up the prices of Indian art on a combination of availability, quality and hype. Hysteria marked the new benchmarks that auctions now created. The first painting to cross the Rs 1 crore standard and each successive crore were excitedly reported and an increasing number of artists were welcomed to the “crore club”. For a while it appeared that art for art’s sake had been overtaken by art for investment’s sake.

How the art market would have continued if it hadn’t been reined in by recession is now in the domain of speculation. But this much we do recognise: that the art market had over-heated not because of the top prices paid to a few, rare quality artworks but because the vast and greedy contemporary market had been consumed by a lust for easy money. Unproven artists were demanding and getting unreasonable valuations, mediocre art was over-priced, and there seemed no precedents any more to valuations.

But a thumbs-up to its recovery comes from art market research firm Art Tactic’s report that shows confidence in the Indian modern art going up 28 per cent since October 2009. On its scale of one to 10, Indian modern art is now placed at 6.9, not just its highest ever posted by the London-based firm, but up from 4.9 just six months earlier.

The report is bound to bring speculators back into the Indian art market, lured by the prices and high confidence in, particularly, modern art — the gap between modern and contemporary art, according to the report, has widened to 51 per cent. But some common sense should help the collector in arriving at the “right” price. If we accept that for a country of India’s size, there were very few painters to begin with, and then accept the global average that only 10 per cent of an artist’s work can be considered of exceptional quality, then the amount of such art is very limited and getting scarcer as it ends up in the hands of intuitions, or collections, that are unlikely to re-sell.

And it is works of such quality that will do for prices in the new decade what they did in the last decade, something that investors with their short-term concerns would do well not to overlook. India’s highest prices for art were achieved in 2008, true, but this must be said: in the decade 2001 to 2010, the highest prices achieved moved from Rs 10 lakh to well above Rs 10 crore. In the coming decade, the same quality of artworks will see the price move from Rs 10 crore to — yes, hold your breath! — Rs 100 crore.

Even at that price, a Tyeb Mehta or F N Souza, an S H Raza or M F Husain will still be a fourth or fifth of Picasso’s current value, but we can save the catching up for the next decade that will follow.

These views are personal and do not reflect those of the organisation with which the writer is associated

Article by Kishore Singh as printed in Business Standard, May 12, 2010