Prinseps to host the Gobardhan Ash auction, the first NFT auction in India

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Prinseps to host the Gobardhan Ash auction, the first NFT auction in India
Gobardhan Ash, Childish, 1950. Image courtesy of Prinseps

MUMBAI.- Prinseps are set to host the Gobardhan Ash Live Auction, offering 35 rare works on paper from the family estate alongside 35 accompanying NFTs. The auction will open for live bidding on 14th January 2022 at 7 pm, representing the first time an Indian auction house has entered the NFT space.

The Gobardhan Ash Auction re-creates the 2nd exhibition of the Progressive Artists’ Group and Calcutta Group, 1950, in which Gobardhan Ash presented a series of gouache works alongside FN Souza, MF Husain and S.H. Raza amongst others. The bright and eclectic modern images painted by Ash for the exhibition, and now offered for auction, perfectly captured the milieu of the time presenting modernist interpretations of everyday people or animals.

Ash’s art from the 1950s showcases his individuality alongside his characteristic technique and presents impeccable character studies such as the painting, Mother and Son 1948 (Lot 07 and 08, estimate INR 30,000 - 1,50,000). These experiments in art are what can be characterised as today’s avatars, that is, ‘primitive’ artworks depicting personality traits, or graphical representations of a user, making them ideal for transformation into an NFT and continuing Ash’s artist experimentation into the 21st Century.

The auction will offer each of Ash’s physical works on paper, immediately followed by its accompanying digital versions offered as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) minted on the Ethereum blockchain.

All 35 of the works on paper carry an estimate of INR 30,000 - 1,50,000, and the NFTs are estimated at INR 1,000 - 25,000 - offering accessible prices to newer collectors exploring the NFT market for the first time.

Key works include Tribhanga, 1950 and 2021 (Lot 03 and 04 pictured above left) which depicts a common stance in traditional Indian Art and popular Indian dance forms such as the Odissi; FA-HI-AN, 1948 and 2021 (Lot 25 and 26 pictured above centre) which depicts an avatar of a Chinese Buddhist monk who travelled by foot from China to India to study Buddhist texts; and Mosgul, 1949 and 2021 (Lot 33 and 34 pictured above right), which depicts a man lost in thought and was exhibited in the Joint Exhibition of the Calcutta Group and the Progressive Artists’ Group, 1950.

Speaking about Prinseps upcoming Gobardhan Ash Auction, Prinseps curator Indrajit Chatterjee notes “Ash’s paintings struck me as bearing a resemblance to the crypto punks movement, but from seven decades earlier. We are delighted to be presenting what we see today as an avatar, painted in Ash’s unique and primitive watercolours more than seventy years ago. These works will also represent the first NFTs offered on the market by an Indian auction house, making this a groundbreaking sale for Prinseps”.

Following the Gobardhan Ash Auction, Prinseps will host a no reserve Nationalism Book Auction in January offering a collection of rare and mostly first edition books ranging from the pre-independence to the post-independence era in India; written and signed by revolutionary leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and V.K. Krishna Menon.

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