Never before auctioned works by Indian modernists at AstaGuru sale

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New Delhi, Mar 17 (PTI) Several artworks by Indian modernists, including V S Gaitonde and Tyeb Mehta will go under the hammer for the very first time at AstaGuru’s upcoming Modern Indian Art sale, the auction house announced.

Set to be held online on March 30-31, the auction will have on offer a carefully curated set of 30 masterpieces.

The catalogue offers a unique opportunity for serious collectors to acquire works making an appearance in the auction market for the very first time since they were acquired directly by their present owners from either the artists themselves, or from galleries,” Astaguru said in a statement.

Highlights of the sale include two monumental oil on canvases by Gaitonde from 1970 and 1971.

Estimated at Rs 12-15 crore, the 1970 painting takes on a “minimalistic approach featuring a largely subtle overtone with abstracted forms painted in deep blacks that appear to float on the canvas and break the monochromatic composition of the painting”.

The second work (1971) carrying an estimate of Rs 13-16 crore, AstaGuru noted, showcases the artist’s control over the medium and his mastery on the canvas to achieve a vivacious creation of earthy overtones with bright patches of orange that seek to break through its surface.

Both works come from a highly significant period in the artist’s career when he was considered to be in his most productive and experimental phase, during which his style completely shifted towards abstraction.

“AstaGuru aims to offer the finest artworks in our bi-annual Modern Indian Art auctions with this time round being no exception.

A majority of the works in this auction have been part of significant collections for decades and it is an absolute pleasure to be introducing them into the auction market for the very first time.

“With masterpieces from renowned artists like Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Husain, to artworks from the limited oeuvre of Hemendranath Mazumdar, Rabindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore, this catalogue has been painstakingly crafted for seasoned buyers looking to add unique works to their collections. These artworks are stellar and we hope art lovers revel in it as much as we enjoyed curating it,” said Tushar Sethi, CEO, AstaGuru.

Another work to watch out for at the sale is a 1981 untitled masterpiece by Mehta featuring a human figure — a core part of the artist’s vocabulary.

“The painting is a highly significant work from the artist’s oeuvre and acts as a transitional piece and a precursor to his later explorations with the themes of the rickshaw puller which became an important subject of his work,” AstaGuru said. The painting is estimated at Rs 12-16 crore.

Also making its auction debut is an early work by M F Husain titled “Blue Ganges” (1966), inspired from his time in Benaras.

Estimated at Rs 1.5-1.8 crore, the work is one of the few rare compositions that the artist executed on wood.

In this work, the artist captures the mystics of the ghat and the people partaking in the ritual of bathing in the holy river.

“The dense sensation of the ghats and its unique geological terrain is effectively established. The figures in the picture frame are bestowed with a sense of momentum, and are well-defined in Husain’s distinctive style,” AstaGuru said.

Another key lot in the sale is an extremely rare work titled 'Aaj Ka Insaan' by India’s foremost modernists K H Ara from the personal collection of his daughter Mrs. Ruxana Pathan.

Ara who was predominantly concerned with the nude form and still-life genre deviates towards an extremely ponderous approach in the presented lot.

Composed on a subdued background, the paucity of elements in the painting forms a poetic juxtaposition, seemingly ironical in correlation with the adopted subject, that being of the relationship between a human being and the ever-encompassing materialistic world.

The artist confronts superficiality and thus allocates a greater degree of space for the shadow of the human figure, while he etches the actual form of the protagonist in a diminutive proportion, the auction house said.

This extremely rare piece from the artist’s oeuvre will be offered at auction for the very first time at Rs 50 - 60 lakhs.

Other featured artists include Akbar Padamsee, Manjit Bawa, Jogen Chowdhury, and Jagdish Swaminathan, Anjolie Ela Menon, Krishen Khanna, and Bikash Bhattacharjee. PTI TRS TRS