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Leading Artists at Christie's New York Sale of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
Tyeb Mehta, Bulls, acrylic on canvas; diptych. Painted in 2005-2007. Estimate on Request. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2011.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art auction will feature works of leading 20th and 21st century Indian and Pakistani artists, juxtaposing tradition with a contemporary edge. The sale presents an exhilarating array of important works and will feature celebrated Modern Masters Tyeb Mehta, Syed Haider Raza, Francis Newton Souza, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Maqbool Fida Husain, Arpita Singh, Bhupen Khakhar and Manjit Bawa alongside the biggest names in contemporary art including Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, and TV Santhosh.

Tyeb Mehta’s diptych Bulls, 2005-2007 (estimate on request) leads the sale. His last completed work, Bulls is the culmination of Mehta’s oeuvre and presents a rare opportunity for serious collectors to acquire the artist’s final and definitive achievement. Mehta has made history in the field at Christie’s, New York in 2002 by becoming the first Modern Indian artist to achieve in excess of $300,000 at auction and again in 2005, when Mahisasura became the first work to achieve in excess of $1,500,000. Monumental in scale, Bulls draws upon the artist’s unique iconography developed throughout his multi-decade career which spanned the genres of painting, sculpture and film.

Another magnificent highlight is Syed Haider Raza’s Untitled, 1985 (estimate $800,000-1,000,000). It is a masterpiece which belongs to a key period in the artist’s career when after many years working within the styles of the Ecole de Paris, his artistic path brought him full circle and he began to integrate vital elements of his Indian heritage into his paintings. At Christie’s in June 2010 Saurashtra from the same period, made history in the field, becoming the first work to achieve $3,486,965, setting a world auction record for any Modern Indian work of art and a world auction record for the artist.

From a Private French Collection, S. H. Raza’s Untitled, 1980 (estimate: $200,000-300,000) demonstrates the artist’s transition from expressionist and geometric styles. This work is one of his first forays into the depiction of the bindu which significantly, was illustrated on a postage stamp issued in 1982 for the ‘Festival of India’.

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde’s contemplative masterpiece Untitled, 1987 comes from a distinguished Private Collection (estimate: $300,000-500,000). The artist’s ethereal and complex paintings conjure a veiled and highly codified version of the natural world, influenced by Zen philosophy and ancient calligraphy. Unlike his more prolific contemporaries, Gaitonde produced very few finished works during his lifetime and this presents a rare opportunity to acquire a significant work by the artist.

Maqbool Fida Husain’s Amplessi (Embrace) (estimate: $500,000-700,000) is an exceptional work by the artist and formerly in the collection of famed Italian film director Roberto Rossellini. The artist was a frequent guest at the Italian home of the Rossellinis and it was during one of these visits in the late 1950s that he painted this important work. Of immediate visual appeal and characterized by a strong emotional undercurrent, it is perhaps Husain's reflection of his hosts. Skillful economy of line and form combine with swiftly defined linear brushstrokes to create an idyllic, gestural simplicity in a subtle palette.

Another highlight by MF Husain, The Lost Princesses, 1964 (estimate: $200,000-300,000) from the Private Collection of acclaimed American actress Charlotte Rae, reflects the interdisciplinary nature of music, sculpture, dance, painting and film which provided enormous inspiration to the artist. The work depicts Husain’s masterful synthesis of a classically Indian subject into a modern artistic language.

An iconic work by Bhupen Khakhar, Landscape with Cannon (estimate: $180,000-250,000) depicts the artist’s flat, saturated colors reminiscent of David Hockney whom he met in the 1970s and similarly typifies the artist’s strong narrative quality, complex spatial arrangements and bold use of color.

From the Estate of Manjit Bawa, Untitled (Gaja Lakshmi), 2004 (estimate: $270,000-350,000) depicts one of the manifestations of the goddess of wealth, flanked by elephants lustrating her with devotional ardor. Reinforcing the connections between divine and earthly power, Gaja Lakshmi’s auspicious iconography is depicted on a grand scale.

Additional highlights include Arpita Singh’s Beginning of the Festival, 1973-1974 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) and Rameshwar Broota’s, Untitled (estimate: $200,000-300,000). The male body is a predominant feature of Broota's oeuvre as a universal 'Adam' of the twenty-first century and the artist's exceptional handling of myriad
textures and chromatic nuances is here employed to masterful effect.

A remarkable selection of contemporary art from the region is led by Subodh Gupta’s Black Thing (estimate: $600,000-800,000). A major highlight, this semi-globed constellation transforms hundreds of stainless steel tongs into a metallic explosion of wonder on a monumental scale. Gupta draws heavily from his own experience in culling material for his art, recasting traditional objects of Indian culture in contemporary media and contexts.

TV Santhosh’s Stitching an Undefined Border, 2007 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) presents the artist’s dynamic, signature style. One of the leading contemporary Indian artists working today, it reflects the complexity of current and historic events and resonates on both a global and local level. Alongside Rashid Rana’s The World is Not Enough, 2006 (estimate: $70,000-90,000) these cutting-edge works present collectors with the unique opportunity to acquire significant works that have been exhibited in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Atul Dodiya’s Walls and Shadows, 1991-2 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) is an excellent example of the photorealist style which defined the artist’s oeuvre in the 1980s and first brought him critical acclaim. Dodiya painted this work during his year-long residency at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, Paris in 1991. It is one of the last works in this style and takes cues from the vibrant, two-dimensional Pop of David Hockney and Dodiya’s use of light may be compared to paintings by Edward Hopper.

Additional contemporary highlights include Jitish Kallat’s Polite, Divine and Helpless, 1998-1999 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and Anju Dodiya’s Expulsion, 2000 (estimate: $50,000-70,000); alongside a seminal early painting by Modern Pakistani Master, Zahoor ul Akhlaq Composition 166, 1963 (estimate: $10,000-15,000) and a significant group of early works by Indian Modernist and founder of the Progressive Artists’ Group, Francis Newton Souza.

Auction: South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art March 23 at 10 am
Viewing: Christie’s Rockefeller Galleries March 18- 22

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