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Indian Art at Sotheby's London

LONDON.- Sotheby's annual sale of Indian Art in London will this year take place on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 and it will bring to the market a fine assortment of works by leading Modern and Contemporary Indian artists as well as rare and important Indian Miniatures. A significant number of the works on offer have exemplary provenance having long been part of private collections. The 86 lots are expected to bring in the region of £1.2 million.

Jogen Chowdhury’s (b. 1939) ink and pastel composition Day Dreaming graces the cover of the sale catalogue and this work highlights the artist’s graceful and distinctive style of fluid lines and simple forms defined by crosshatching, a style which derives from his appreciation of the Bengal pat tradition. Dating from 1979, the work beautifully illustrates Jogen’s sensitivity to and awareness of
pattern and texture; skills that he perhaps mastered during his training and work as a textile designer in the late 1960s. Day Dreaming is a continuation of a series of works that Chowdhury produced between 1968-76, entitled Reminiscences of a Dream, and all the works in the series capture symbols and figures from a world of dreams floating against a dark background that are devoid of place and time. Chowdhury, who trained in both Kolkata and Paris, is best known for his ink works and this example was exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1979. Never offered at auction before and one of the largest works of its type by Chowdhury to ever come to the market, it is estimated at £80,000-120,000.

An untitled painting by Manjit Bawa (1941-2008), which featured on the front cover of the first-ever issue of Art India in 1996, is another notable highlight and is expected to fetch £70,000-100,000. Bawa’s work questions the dynamics of the relationship between humans and the animal world and the icons and myths of both. His distinctive and bold use of colour is rooted in his training as a silkscreen printer and his study of Rajput and Pahari miniature paintings.

A group of works by the noted Bengal painter Nandalal Bose (1883-1966) come to the market with superb provenance, having once been part of the artist’s own private collection. As a Heritage artist, works by Bose rarely appear on the international auction market so the appearance of this group represents a rare opportunity for collectors in the Indian field. The four ink and wash works – entitled Untitled (Ocean Dune), Untitled (Where Cranes Nest), Untitled (Hills Ablaze) and Untitled (Two Shal Trees) – were executed in the late 1950s and early 1960s and are all full of intense beauty and capture the trajectory of modern India’s cultural development. Each of the four works carries an estimate of £10,000-15,000. Untitled (Where Cranes Nest) and Untitled (Hills Ablaze).

Among the miniatures on offer is a group of three Mughal illustrations that come from the famed Ehrenfeld Collection, the collection that the renowned Mrs Lois Ehrenfeld built with her husband, the late Dr. William Ehrenfeld, and that was inspired by their love affair with the arts of India. One of the illustrations is from a Persian translation of the Kathasaritasagara of Somadeva in India and this opaque watercolour heightened with gold depicts a king slaying a mendicant observed from above by a deity seated on a lotus cloud. The scene possibly refers to the incident at the end of the tale of King Trivikramasena when a demon enters a human corpse. A second miniature is a portrait of Prince Sulaiman Shikoh and his father Prince Dara Shikoh, who was the eldest son and apparent heir of Shah Jahan, while the third is a genre scene of a Prince meeting a holy man, which closely follows the style of the Mughal artist Govardhan who produced a number of portraits of holy men, dervishes and ascetics, often at the request of Prince Dara Shokoh. The three miniatures are estimated at £8,000-12,000, £10,000-15,000 and £12,000-18,000 respectively.

The sale will also offer a selection of works by Contemporary Indian artists such as Rashid Rana (b. 1968) and Abir Karmakar (b. 1977). Photographic works by Pablo Bartholomew (b. 1955) and Atul Bhalla (b. 1964) will also feature.

Sotheby's | Jogen Chowdhury | Manjit Bawa | Nandalal Bose | Rashid Rana | Abir Karmakar | Pablo Bartholomew | Atul Bhalla |

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