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Saffronart's summer art auction in Mumbai is a celebration of Modern art in India
Jehangir Sabavala, The Waterpump, Jaipur c.1950s. Estimate: $80,000 - $100,000/Rs. 41,60,000 - 52,00,000.

MUMBAI.- An important work of modern art by S.H. Raza, a 1987 canvas Untitled (La Terre), is up for auction at Saffronart in June, along with significant works from modern masters such as Sabavala, Souza, Husain, Ram Kumar and Krishen Khanna. Featured on the front cover of the catalogue, the Raza canvas is estimated at Rs. 62,40,000 to Rs. 93,60,000 (US$ 120,000 to 180,000). In this painting, the loose gestural brushwork of Raza’s abstract expressionism gives way to a more controlled approach to abstract forms and spaces. An intersecting network of bold horizontal and diagonal lines and places form the triangular symbols of purush and prakriti, or the male and female energies that combine to beget life, and support this heaving, expanding universe. At the time that this network of shapes and lines emerged in Raza’s work, his vivid palette also transformed to take on the earthy tones of the Indian landscape that inspired this transformation. Here, Raza uses colour, particularly shades of ochre, umber, sienna, red and brown, to represent the searing heat and passion of Central India where he was born and raised.

A selection of fifteen important works by M.F. Husain are up for auction at Saffronart, representing each of the seven decades of his career, and marking the artist’s centenary. These include the seminal 1965 canvas, Abhisarika, published in the 1970 Harry Abrams monograph on Husain and attractively estimated at Rs 1,30,00,000 - 1,56,00,000 (USD 250,000 - 300,000); Tandav Nritya, a 1972 painting that illuminates Husain’s deep understanding of India’s mythology and classical art forms estimated at Rs 60,00,000 - 80,00,000 (USD $115,385 - 153,850);an untitled mural-scale triptych painted towards the end of 2001 to herald the New Year and new hope estimated at Rs 1,40,00,000 - 1,80,00,000 (USD 269,235 - 346,155); and a colourful untitled early canvas, originally exhibited in the 1950 exhibition of works by the Progressive Artists’ Group in Bombay estimated at Rs 15,60,000 - 20,80,000 (USD 30,000 - 40,000 ).

Another important work, Jehangir Sabavala’s Of Cliff and Fall III from 1978, epitomizes the artists control over line and form, and his dexterity in the use of color and texture. The work, estimated between Rs. 62,40,000 to 78,00,000 (US$ 120,000 to 150,000), is reminiscent of the Deccan landscape during and after the monsoons.

N S Bendre’s Untitled, a large canvas from 1979 executed in pointillist style is tempered with the artist’s expressive vision of Indian landscape and is estimated at Rs 40,00,000 and 50,00,000 (US$ 76,925 and 96,155).

Among the contemporary pieces in the auction, G. Ravinder Reddy’s monumental Untitled head from 2008 stands out. Estimated between Rs. 90,00,000 and Rs. 1,20,00,000 (US$ 173,080 and 230,770), this epic sculptural rendition of the female form pays tribute to feminine sensuality, fecundity and power as they have been variously manifested in India – from age-old sacred temple art to more contemporary, secular images drawn from the popular, even kitschy culture of the bazaar. This larger than life painted head has wide eyes lined with kohl, an elaborately moulded hair ornament, bejewelled ears and nose, and brightly painted lips that are expectantly pursed. Unafraid of embracing kitsch in his work, Reddy uses sculptures like this one to explore its role and place in the development of Indian culture.

Speaking about the auction, the CEO and Co-founder of Saffronart Dinesh Vazirani noted,”This auction represents a terrific opportunity to collect important works from the modern masters who put Indian 20th century art on the world map, and became household names in the process. We are privileged to be offering this fine selection at attractive estimates.”

Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction includes a total of 85 lots by 40 prominent modern and contemporary Indian artists, with a total sale estimate of Rs. 18.08 crore (US$ 3.4 million) to Rs. 23.24 crore (US$ 4.4 million). Other highlights include works by N.S. Bendre, F.N. Souza, Ram Kumar, Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, Subodh Gupta, Surendran Nair, Anju Dodiya and Jitish Kallat. The auction will take place online at, on June 19-20, 2013.

The auction will be accompanied by print and online catalogues, as well as preview events and private viewings in Mumbai and London. Collectors may place bids at Saffronart’s website, or via Saffronart’s proprietary iPad, iPhone and Blackberry applications.

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