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Leading auction house Saffronart announces first sale by an Indian auction house of Pakistani art
Saira Wasim, Passion Cycle, Gouache and silver leaf on wasli.

MUMBAI.- Close on the heels of the recent positive steps in India-Pakistan relations comes a historic auction of Pakistani art hosted by India’s leading auction house, Saffronart. Appropriately the “Art of Pakistan” auction is headlined by a portrait of one of the most recognized Bollywood stars by one of the most recognized Pakistani contemporary artists - Salman Khan’s portrait by Rashid Rana - as a symbol of the cultural exchange between the two countries,. The auction presents a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire an exceptional selection of artworks by pre-eminent modern and contemporary Pakistani artists. With a total of 70 lots, this 24-hour auction of the Art of Pakistan will take place online at on November 7-8, 2012.

The auction features significant works by modern masters including Sadequain, Ahmed Parvez, Jamil Naqsh and Anwar Jalal Shemza, as well as distinguished contemporary artists such as Imran Qureshi, Mohammad Ali Talpur, Naiza Khan, Ayaz Jokhio, Shazia Sikander and Nusra Latif Querishi. With a total estimate of Rs. 1.86 crore (USD 364,925) to Rs. 2.45 crore (US$ 481,630), this auction promises art connoisseurs some of the finest modern and contemporary Pakistani artto come to market in recent years.

The auction includes a portrait of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan by Rashid Rana from his Ommatidia series of photomontages, estimated at Rs 7,50,000 to Rs. 10,00,000 (USD 15,000 to 20,000). Rana blurs the boundaries between advertising, painting, print making, photography and video. In this series, created in 2004, the artist comments on the social construction of celebrity and the role of fantasy. Salman Khan, the superstar of Indian cinema is idolized throughout South and West Asia as a paragon of masculinity and sexuality. This series of works, however, is not about the star. This portrait is composed of several thousand smaller images of ordinary Pakistani men, whose shared aspirations Rana believes uphold the entire industry.

Another highlight is Imran Qureshi’s ‘Moderate Enlightenment 2’ estimated at Rs. 6,00,000 to Rs. 7,50,000 (USD 12,000 to 15,000). This painting belongs to a series of portraits in which Qureshi reflects on the events of 9/11 and those that followed it. In this painting, the artist pairs the outfit of a religious scholar with a pair of camouflage socks, challenging narrow-minded assumptions made on the basis of appearances. Qureshi feels his art also reflects this dissonance in its technique, where contemporary themes are paired with traditional miniature styles.

Nazia Khan’s sculpture ‘The Skin She Wears’ is estimated at Rs. 3,00,000 to Rs. 4,00,000 (USD 6000 to 8000). The piecerepresents an intimate woman’s garment, but is crafted from metal and leather. There are many possible meanings behind the juxtaposition of subject and material; the piece simultaneously conveys strength and siege, softness and rigidity, lightness and weight. Unsurprisingly, this work is dense with connotations: emotional, cultural, political, psychological and sexual, which often contradict one another. Khan leaves it to the viewer to engage with the work and draw those messages from it that are most significant to them.

Among the modern artworks is a painting by Anwar Jalal Shemza, one of Pakistan’s most well known modern artists. Shemza’s work fused Western principles of modernism with those of traditional Islamic art forms. His works show great attention to geometry and perspective, with strong verticals and horizontals highlighted by his choice of palette. This painting is estimated at Rs. 5,00,000 to Rs. 7,50,000 (USD 10,000 to 15,000).

Speaking about the auction, Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and Co-founder of Saffronart, said, “We are privileged to be offering this remarkable selection of modern and contemporary Pakistani art at this historic auction. This auction offers Indian, Pakistani and international collectors a rare opportunity to appreciate the richness and diversity of the art created in Pakistan over the last 60 years, acquire some its finest examples, and become part of an important cultural dialogue between Pakistan, India and the rest of the world.”

Along with a complete online catalogue, Saffronart will also host a panel discussion and special previews at its galleries in London and New York, and viewings at its galleries in Mumbai and New Delhi. The sale will take place online on November 7-8, 2012. Collectors may place bids at Saffronart’s website, or via Saffronart’s proprietary iPad, Blackberry and iPhone applications.

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