Veteran artist-respected Lalitha Lajmi works offered at Prinseps Auction house

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Veteran artist-respected Lalitha Lajmi works offered at Prinseps Auction house
Lalitha Lajmi, Death Reading a Book of Poems. Zinc Aquatint. Signed lower right, 1977. 10.0 x 10.0 in. Estimate: 25,000 - 75,000 INR.

MUMBAI.- Prinseps announces the auction of veteran artist Lalitha Lajmi's prints on 10th August 2022. The 65-lot auction navigates the themes of death, performance, and the complexities of human relationships. The Lalitha Lajmi Prints auction will be open for live bidding on 10th August 2022, 10 am, and closes on 11th August, 7 pm onwards.

Lalitha Lajmi (b. 1932) is a veteran printmaker and artist who continues to paint in her Lokhandwala home at the age of 89. Her creative oeuvre traverses over five decades (and counting) and includes etching and printmaking, pen and ink drawings, oil colour, and watercolour paintings. This auction covers Lajmi’s work from the 1960s to the 1980s, demonstrating elements of an autobiographical narrative with a continuous presence of psychoanalysis.

Born into a creative household, Lajmi's brother was the great filmmaker Guru Dutt, her mother a polylingual writer, and her father a poet. Her close association with cinema and theatre resulted in the use of masks as a recurring motif in her works. In an interaction with Prinseps, she recalls, “ The concept of masks came to me because of my daughter Kalpana. She was in college and good at dramatics. I often attended her rehearsals and was intrigued by her interest in theatre. But I started doing masks subconsciously. My masks were humane, with feelings and emotions, unlike the decorative kind. ” While the ominous shadow of death breathes heavily on her works with titles like "Death Reading a Book of Poems" and "Death of a Mask." Her prints are also introspections of the subconscious mind and its dreams. While her earlier works are melancholic, her later works are described as more optimistic.

The key highlights of the auction include Lot 3 - The Masks, Lot 24 - Death Reading a Book of Poems, an ominous work highlighting Lajmi’s interest in poetry and preoccupation with death and the subconscious mind. Lot 39 - Portrait of Gangubai - famed for lobbying for the rights of commercial sex workers and one of Mumbai’s well-known and influential brothel owners in the 50s and 60s. Lajmi drew this detailed work in 1982. She knew Gangubai personally and said she was Kalpana's (Lajmi's daughter) caretaker and would often prepare meals for her. Another highlight is Lot 65 - Untitled (Portrait of Navjot Altaf, Altaf Mohamedi, Gogi Saroj Pal, and Lalitha Lajmi), amongst others.

The online auction will offer 65 lots carrying an estimate of INR 25,000 - INR. 75,000.

Concerning Prinseps's upcoming Lalitha Lajmi Prints Auction, Prinseps’s Vice-President and curator Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil notes, "Lajmi's journey into printmaking involved a lot of self-learning, reflection, and guidance from some of the great Indian artists who were writing art history with their work back then. Given the limited printmaking classes and her marital responsibilities and duties, her sheer passion, dedication, and encounters with like-minded people led her to create these beautiful works."

Following the Lalitha Lajmi Prints Auction, Prinseps will host the Modern Art Auction on 18th August 2022.

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