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Modern and Contemporary Indian art expand base with Saffronart's Summer Online Auction
Bharti Kher, I Never Saw You for What You Really Are, 2008. Estimate $220,000 - 280,000 | Rs 1,32,00,000 - 1,68,00,000.

MUMBAI.- Artworks by iconic Masters and cutting edge Contemporaries will be up for sale next month. Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction taking place on June 18 – 19 will feature 100 artworks. Lots from the auction will be on display at Saffronart’s London, Mumbai, Delhi and New York galleries—an opportune moment for collectors based outside India to view some of the most highly coveted works. The auction will take place online on and will be preceded by a preview exhibition in London and Mumbai.

Among the Moderns, S. H. Raza’s undisputed popularity and impact as an artist renders a 1988 canvas work (lot 35) titled Bharatiya Samaroh the leading lot in the auction. Influenced by European painters such as Cezanne, Raza ultimately found his calling in India: in childhood memories, in its scenic beauty, its myriad traditions and artistic practices that led him to discover a style of his own. Bharatiya Samaroh is one of his earliest and largest fractured geometric paintings which highlights distinct symbols in differently patterned squares coming together to form a whole construct. Works by the artist assume increased significance among collectors in the light of Saffronart’s Modern Evening Sale held earlier this February. A 1951 gouache on paper by Raza, Haut de Cagnes, broke records for a work on paper by an Indian artist and reinforced the appeal his works hold.

Another significant lot in the auction is a 1963 oil on canvas (lot 30) by F. N. Souza, Seated Man in Red (After Titian). Painted four hundred years after Titian’s Emperor Charles V, at first glance it appears that Souza is paying homage to Titian, however, Souza’s work is not a respectful portrait of a dynamic leader but an act of destruction. Souza was fascinated by the grandiose portraiture of Renaissance Europe, the strength of the colours used, the careful composition and the majestic subject matter. But unlike the Renaissance painters, Souza did not seek to present an idealised form to the viewer. Souza’s painting is an act of exposing what lies beneath the regalia, a ridiculing of those who occupy positions of power and the blind faith that their subjects place in them.

Also up for auction are four very rare wooden toys (lots 26, 27, 28 and 29) by Maqbool Fida Husain. Made in the 1950s, toys by M. F. Husain are among his rarest works. The prolific artist made very few wooden toys and they belong to a period in his career when he was struggling in his profession. In1942, Husain's first son Shafat was born. In need of a regular job, he quit painting cinema hoardings and began working at the Fantasy Furniture Shop, Mumbai, as a furniture and toy designer. There, he became popular for his imaginative and beautiful concepts. With the birth of his daughter Raisa, he also began designing wooden toys.

Other important works by modernists such as Ram Kumar, H. A. Gade, Krishen Khanna, and K. K. Hebbar among others also feature in the online auction.

Among the Contemporaries is a 5’ x 11’ metallic paint and bindi work (lot 69) by Bharti Kher from 2008 titled I Never Saw You for What You Really Are. Kher uses the ‘bindi’, a dot indicative of the third eye worn by the Indian women on their foreheads, as the central motif and most basic building block in her work. She often refers to her mixed media works with bindis, the mass-produced, yet traditional ornaments, as ‘action paintings’. Painstakingly placed on the surface onebyone to form a design, the multi-coloured bindis represent custom, often inflexible, as well as the dynamic ways in which it is produced and consumed today.

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