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Seven seminal works by Sadequain, Pakistan's Picasso who illustrated a book by Camus, for sale at Bonhams
A third painting of the seven in the sale is one from a collection considered one of the best in Pakistan. The picture titled “Imagination” painted in 1968 is estimated at £25,000 to £35,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- An astonishing selection of seven Sadequain (1937-1987) paintings are the key items in the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art section of Bonhams Indian and Islamic Art sale on April 8 in London.

Sadequain was one of the first modern artists from Pakistan to achieve international fame and at the relatively early age of thirty-one. Whilst living in Paris in the 1960s, he was chosen to illustrate the novel, The Stranger by Albert Camus, a significant achievement for the artist. He was also awarded the 'Laureate Biennale de Paris' for his painting titled “The Last Supper”.

Sadequain was constantly compared to Picasso by the French establishment. This shows how his innate talent was accepted as a reflection of the great and revered master, Pablo Picasso. By 1964 Sadequain had firmly established his footing in French art circles. 'Le Monde et Lavie' in Paris reported in its April edition, "The multiplicity of Sadequain's gifts is reminiscent of Picasso."

The comparison of a young Asian artist with an important figure such as Picasso was a triumph. Sadequain never looked back, and while shuttling between Europe and Asia during the mid 1960s created a significant body of work over a period of seven years that in isolation could place him amongst the most significant artists of the era.

The value of Sadequain’s work has rocketed over the years says Nour Aslam, a specialist in Contemporary Asian Art at Bonhams, the international fine art auction house. “When Sadequain’s works were placed in auction in the early 1990’s, the pieces were selling for around £1,000. In March 2008, we made an auction record for the artist by achieving £150,000 ($200,000) for one of his paintings.”

She adds: “This is, by far, the best selection of Sadequain’s works to come to the market for a while. They are of great quality and fresh to the market. All the pieces are pivotal works and they have come in from countries across Europe as well as Pakistan. Clearly, his appeal in the international market has consistently been strong and continues to grow.”

Two of the works had been earmarked for an exhibition in Paris which never took place, which has become known as ‘The Lost Exhibition’.

The first is Sadequain’s, “Judgement in Paris”, oil on canvas and dated 1967, which is estimated to sell for £45,000-65,000. It comes from a private collection in Germany.

During his time in Paris, Sadequain flourished and began to assimilate new methods. He combined the practice of calligraphy with Cubism and Surrealism. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Fernand Leger influenced his style during this period. Sadequain was not an artist who wanted to conform to anyone else's view of art. This particular work “Judgement in Paris” was executed during his time in Paris and is the perfect example of how Sadequain was a rule-breaker.

The second from the Lost Exhibition is titled “Two Figures”, painted in 1966 and estimated at £20,000 to £30,000.

A third painting of the seven in the sale is one from a collection considered one of the best in Pakistan. The picture titled “Imagination” painted in 1968 is estimated at £25,000 to £35,000.

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