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Indian modernist painters to be celebrated at UK auction

Press Trust of India  |  London 

painters such as and Maqbool Fida are among a host of modern and contemporary from South to be celebrated at an auction in next month.

annual summer auction of 'South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art', to be held on June 11, comprises 77 lots, almost entirely from private collections from Europe, India, Asia, US and

Following India's participation and Pakistan's debut at this year's Venice Biennale, this year's auction will celebrate art from both the countries, the auction house said.

"The auction is led by the striking 'Falling Figure with Bird' painted in 2002 by (1925-2009). This compelling composition manifests the sense of angst, helplessness and fear that felt at the societal violence and tragedy he experienced in the aftermath of Partition," the auction notes read.

The painting, estimated to fetch between 1,500,000 pounds and 2,000,000 pounds, depicts entwined avian and human figures, drawn perhaps from Greek mythology characters like Icarus or Phaethon, who failed in their quests of flight and union with divinity.

The sale also includes exceptional paintings by members of the seminal Progressive Artists' Group and their associates, which are completely fresh to the market and provide new documentation of the critical formative period in the development of the modern art.

These new discoveries are described as "jewels" in the auction and highlight the touching friendships that inspired some of the in the 1950s and 1960s on the path to becoming the major modern masters.

These include MF Husain's colossal, eight feet, 1958 painting, 'Untitled (Village Scenes)', estimated between 500,000 pounds and 700,000 pounds.

It is described as a "visual almanac of the artist's early oeuvre".

notes: "Each constituent vignette in this multipart composition represents Husain's most iconic tropes, quintessential to his artistic output, establishing his assured draftsmanship and mastery of line and colour."

According to the catalogue, the 'Untitled (Village Scenes)' is from a rare and seminal series of large-scale works encapsulating the charm and vibrancy of the Indian countryside creating a storyboard of the nation.

A further 1966 entitled 'Gopees and Krishna', estimated between 250,000 pounds and 350,000 pounds, was acquired directly from the by the Seventh Earl and Countess of Harewood and represents the close friendship they developed over several visits to in the 1960s and 1970s.

They became lifelong friends and visited Harewood House in Yorkshire, where the painting was exhibited in 2007 only a few years before his death, reveals.

The auction also offers works by Sayed from the early 1950s, coming from the collection of his close friend and classmate at the des Beaux Arts in Paris,

The catalogue notes: "Each painting extolls Raza's love of his quintessential genre, landscape, in unique and contrasting ways."


'Untitled (Church in Landscape)' is estimated between 150,000 pounds and 200,000 pounds.

Another Raza painting, 'Untitled (Cityscape)', is also estimated between 150,000 pounds and 200,000 pounds. The painting is a delicate rendering of rooftops executed in gouache. These were most likely the rooftops seen from Raza's apartment window in

The auction next month will also feature a key example of Ram Kumar's restrained portraits of the 1950s '(Untitled)' that express the artist's despondent reaction to the harsh realities of urban life that he came face to face with at the time in and

In the painting, which is estimated between 180,000 pounds and 250,000 pounds, the central figure, a young man in a grey suit, becomes a universal symbol of this disenchantment, and sense of individualism being subsumed by the anonymous homogeneity of the city Kumar portrays him in.

The painting was acquired directly from the by the Shamlal, who authored a series of monographs on Indian artists, known as the 'Sadanga Series on Modern and Contemporary Indian Art'.

Francis Newton Souza's 'The Prophet' was painted in 1955 at the apex of his career in The painting depicts an austere anguished man dressed in a business suit, pierced by a single arrow in his neck, representing the fundamental themes of religion, sinners, saints and martyrdom.

The auction will also include the largest ever selection of modern and contemporary works by from and its diaspora, spanning the period of colonial rule in the Indian Subcontinent to the present.

This comprehensive selection include works by Abdur Rehman Chughtai, Allah Bux, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Sadequain, Rashid Rana, Shahzia Sikander, Imran Qureshi, Waqas Khan, and Bani Abidi, among others.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 17 2019. 18:41 IST
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