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Prinseps announces upcoming Modern and Contemporary Indian art auction
Ram Kumar, Mazes of the Mind, 1961.

MUMBAI.- Prinseps' upcoming spring ​Modern Art Auction features 45 exceptional works of art across the spectrum of Indian Modernism complemented by a series of works by leading Indian contemporary artists. The auction will be held online on the ​24th - 25th April with a preview at the Taj Art Gallery, Mumbai on the 20th and 21st April. Key lots include works by Ram Kumar, Francis Newton Souza, Somnath Hore, V.S. Gaitonde, M.F. Husain, Zarina Hashmi as well as photographs by Raghu Rai and Vivan Sundaram’s digital photomontages culled from his archive of Amrita Sher-Gil.  

The auction will be led by a rare oil on board double-sided ​Ram Kumar, ​Family, 1960 and Mazes of the Mind, 1961, lot 16, estimate 1,50,00,000 - 3,00,00,000 INR. The work is of historical significance as it is a double-sided work that marks a transition in the artist’s practice from his early figurative paintings to his later abstract phase. Whilst ​Family depicts a figurative scene of two adults protectively nurturing a child, Mazes of the Mind, presumed to be painted immediately afterwards, blends the figurative with an abstract style more familiar in Ram Kumar’s later work. A quote by Richard Bartholomew in ​The Art Critic best illustrates the moment of transition captured in this double-sides painting - “Amongst all these mazes are the remnants of some mystical figurative forms, but the people have disappeared in their entirety”. 

Accompanying this, is an early landscape painting by ​Francis Newton Souza, ​Untitled (Goan Village), lot 17, estimate 40,00,000 - 50,00,000 INR. Painted in 1948, shortly after Souza’s expulsion from the J.J. School of Art in Bombay, the work takes inspiration from the artist’s Goan roots, reflecting his bold use of colour and line. Painted a year after the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group had been founded, of which Souza was a founding member, the work shows elements of what the PAG wanted to paint for a ‘New India’ and Souza’s own take on modern Indian art.

Prinseps are also offering ​Manu Parekh’s ​CRY (Bhagalpur portraits), lot 24, estimate 15,00,000- 20,00,000 INR​, an early work from the his Bhagalpur series where he refers to the Bhagalpur Blindings that occurred in Bihar in 1979 and 1980, evoking a debate around capital punishment and forcing an important insight into the human condition. The work is notable for having been exhibited in all three NGMAs (New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru) and the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum, Ahmedabad. 

In addition, Prinseps is introducing photography as a new category within their auctions for the first time. Of particular interest is ​Jyoti Bhatt’s ​Untitled (a set of 10 photographs of various artists)​, lot 33, estimate 8,00,000-10,00,000 INR. The photographs are strong examples of Bhatt’s direct and informal style and depict many of the icons of Indian modernism including M.F Husain, Nasreen Mohamedi, Himmat Shah and Krishen Khanna amongst others. 

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