Auction features two monumental oil on canvases by V S Gaitonde from the early 1970's

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Auction features two monumental oil on canvases by V S Gaitonde from the early 1970's
In this auction, AstaGuru will offer not one, but two monumental oil on canvases by leading modernist V S Gaitonde from 1970 and 1971. Estimated at INR 12 – 15 crores (US$ US$ 1,666,667 - 2,083,333), his work from 1970 (lot 16) takes on a minimalistic approach featuring a largely subtle overtone with abstracted forms painted in deep blacks that appear to float on the canvas and breaks the monochromatic composition of the painting.

MUMBAI.- AstaGuru will present its Modern Indian Art online auction on 30 – 31 March 2021 including some of the finest selection of artworks by leading modernists. The auction catalogue features a carefully curated set of 30 eminent works in the Modern Indian Art space from masterpieces by stalwarts such as V S Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, Manjit Bawa, Jogen Chowdhury, and Jagdish Swaminathan, to never before auctioned creations by K H Ara, M F Husain, Krishen Khanna, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Anjolie Ela Menon, and many more artists. The catalogue offers a unique opportunity for serious collectors to acquire works that are making an appearance in the to the auction market for the very firsts timesince they were acquired directly by their present owners from either the artists themselves, or from galleries, and will be making their auction debuts at AstaGuru.

Commenting on the auction, Mr. Tushar Sethi, CEO, AstaGuru, said, “ AstaGuru aims to offer the finest artworks in our bi-annual Modern Indian Art auctions with this time round being no exception. A majority of the works in this auction have been part of significant collections for decades and it is an absolute pleasure to be introducing them into the auction market for the very first time. With masterpieces from renowned artists like Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Husain, to artworks from the limited oeuvre of Hemendranath Mazumdar, Rabindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore, this catalogue has been painstakingly crafted for seasoned buyers looking to add unique works to their collections. These artworks are stellar and we hope art lovers revel in it as much as we enjoyed curating it.”

In this auction, AstaGuru will offer not one, but two monumental oil on canvases by leading modernist V S Gaitonde from 1970 and 1971. Estimated at INR 12 – 15 crores (US$ US$ 1,666,667 - 2,083,333), his work from 1970 (lot 16) takes on a minimalistic approach featuring a largely subtle overtone with abstracted forms painted in deep blacks that appear to float on the canvas and breaks the monochromatic composition of the painting. The second work to be offered (lot 17) truly showcases Gaitonde’s control over the medium and his mastery on the canvas to achieve a vivacious creation of earthy overtones with bright patches of orange that seek to break through its surface. The work carries an estimate of INR 13 – 16 crores (US$ 1,805,556 - 2,222,222).

Both works come from a highly significant period in the artist’s career when he was considered to be in his most a highly productive and experimental phase, during which his work style completely journeyed towards abstraction. Gaitonde’s paintings from the 70’s embody the principal technical methodologies, as well as the ideologies of Zen Buddhism he had adopted as an artist over the last decade. He had completely shifted from the horizontal format to working on large vertical compositions, which he adopted for the rest of his career. His works took on a monochromatic palette which the artist achieved by adding layers of paint through the use of rollers and palette knives, instead of brushes; achieving a sense of stillness, atmosphere, and astute depth unlike the works of any of his contemporaries. Gaitonde became predominantly concerned with exploring abstraction by understanding and using colour as a pure form of expression. Gaitonde’s mastery has been recognized the world over through permanent inclusions in museum collections and retrospectives, and his works have gone onto to becoming some of the most expensive acquisitions for modern Indian art on the global stage.

Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled masterpiece from 1981 is another significant highlight of the catalogue that will be offered at an estimate of INR 12 – 16 crores (US$ 1,666,667 - 2,222,222). The human figure became a core part of the artist’s vocabulary which can be seen in the current lot (lot23). The painting is a highly significant work from the artist’s oeuvre and acts as a transitional piece and a precursor to his later explorations with the themes of the rickshaw puller which became an important subject of his work. Mehta's work took on a great transformation following his encounter with minimalist art during his stay in New York on a Rockefeller Grant in 1968. His initial approach to painting which was characterized by heavily textured impressionistic brushstrokes completely changed to well-structured minimal fields of colour which were technically executed. Through this transformation Mehta wanted to achieve a level of minimalism where the image spoke for itself rather the artists markings through the medium.

Jogen Chowdhury’s ‘Story of Woman’, a mammoth work from 2013 is one his largest and most important paintings till date. Estimated at INR 3.5 - 4.5 crores (US$ 486,111 - 625,000), this incredible work (lot 25) of monumental proportions narrates a fable which revolves around the sexual tension which looms over the relationship of a man and woman, with the woman being the central protagonist. The scale of the painting and subject matter is vast to the extent that the artist had to work on 5 panels which extends to 25 feet in length in order to etch the essence of his thought process and observations. The theme of sexual tension between a man and a woman has been a point of contemplation for Jogen Chowdhury for an extended period of time, however this painting is an outcome of totalitarian thematic distillation. The painting has been showcased at several important exhibitions such as “ An Ode to the Monumental” a two city travelling exhibition that was a group show featuring larger than life compositions by leading modernist and this Lot represented Jogen’s practise. The Lot was also a part of the retrospective at the St. Regis Hotel in Mumbai in 2016

Making its auction debut, is an early work by M F Husain titled ‘Blue Ganges’ from circa 1966 estimated at INR 1.5 - 1.8 crores (US$ 208,333 - 250,000). The current lot (lot 11) is one of the few rare compositions that the artist executed on wood. In this work, the artist captures the mystics of the ghat and the people partaking in the ritual of bathing in the holy river. The dense sensation of the ghats and its unique geological terrain is effectively established. The figures in the picture frame are bestowed with a sense of momentum, and are well-defined in Husain’s distinctive style. M F Husain travelled to Benaras for the first time with fellow artist Ram Kumar during the 1960s. They both were taken by the beauty of the city that resides on the banks of the Ganga and captured the emotive sensation of the place in their unique styles and through several paintings in their careers.

Another key lot in the sale is an extremely rare work titled ‘Aaj Ka Insaan’ by India’s foremost modernists K H Ara from the personal collection of his daughter Mrs. Ruxana Pathan. Ara who was predominantly concerned with the nude form and still-life genre deviates towards an extremely ponderous approach in the presented lot. Composed on a subdued background, the paucity of elements in the painting form a poetic juxtaposition, seemingly ironical in correlation with the adopted subject, that being of the relationship between a human being and the ever-encompassing materialistic world. The artist confronts superficiality and thus allocates a greater degree of space for the shadow of the human figure, while he etches the actual form of the protagonist in a diminutive proportion. This extremely rare piece from the artist’s oeuvre will be offered at auction for the very first time at INR 50 - 60 lakhs (US$ 69,444 - 83,333).

The auction features a beautifully arresting, ‘Untitled’ painting of a female protagonist from the limited oeuvre of Hemendranath Mazumdar, who became one of the few Indian artists of the early 20th century to gain monetary as well as critical appreciation for this work. Lot no 3, estimated at INR 40 - 50 lakhs (US$US$ 55,556 - 69,444), this exceptional work of art will be offered for the first time at an auction. As part of his formal training, Hemendranth mastered the Western Academic style of painting adapted to an Indian subject matter as a whole, and female portraits in particular. Bathing women or those partially draped in wet saris became the artists most revisited subject matter. He became a highly revered painter in the Kolkata art scene in the 1920’s.

Two important and unique works by eminent artist Krishen Khanna also feature in the sale. Lot 14, ‘Concerning A Drowned Girl’, oil on canvas, 1971, is one of 4 large scale paintings that Krishen Khanna created during the early 1970s based on the poem ‘About the Drowned Girl’ written by Bertolt Brecht. The artist was deeply moved when he read the German poet’s rendition and even visited the Brecht Archive and other institutions dedicated to him when he travelled to Germany. Estimated at INR 50 – 60 lakhs (US$ 69,444 - 83,333), this work stands as a very sublime composition in the artists oeuvre compared to his other vibrant colourist works. It also makes for a great example of how artists’ draw inspiration from other works and mediums to create a work of art. Another significant work which will makes its auction debut is Lot 26, ‘Minstrels in The Forest’, oil on canvas, estimated at INR 40 – 60 lakhs (US$ 55,556 - 83,333). The painting forms a part of his famous Bandwalla Series, however, is unique in the treatment and setting of the background which is well-defined in comparison to other works from the series.

Another few highlight of the auction are the 3 distinctive artworks by Manjit Bawa. The canvas creations showcase his different styles and formats, including a portrait format, a slightly abstract creation and a man & animal composition. Manjit Bawa was inspired by Pahari style miniature painting, he composed his backgrounds with iconic Indian colours such as yellow, green & red, seldom choosing darker hues, which make his canvases very unique.

First up is the “Untitled”, oil on canvas, portrait estimated at INR 50 - 70 lakhs | (US$ 69,444 – 97,222) This work by Manjit Bawa sheds light on the degree of engagement the artist maintained with his internal process of creating art. It also highlights his virtuosity as a draftsman, and his impeccable ability to translate a drawing into a painting.

Another interesting work by Manjit Bawa is one of his early works from the 1980s, Lot no 21, “Untitled”. Estimated at INR 60 – 80 Lakhs (US$ 83,333 – 111,111). Unlike most of his works wherewith the identity of the character is well defined, in this the play at hand is abstract in nature.

Another distinct work by Manjit Bawa is Lot no 30, “Untitled”, estimated at INR 2-2.50 crores (US$ 2 77,778 – 347,222). His paintings narrate a well-defined moment and illustrate his characters in a very refined state, aspiring to create an imagery that is simplistic yet submerged with identity

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