LONDON - In 2006, Christie’s marked an exceptional year in the contemporary art market, with Modern and Contemporary Indian art becoming one of the art market’s fastest growing areas. As market leader in the field, Christie’s is pleased to announce the return of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art sales to London on 21 May 2007. Showcasing the scope of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art from established through to up-and-coming artists, the sale includes important works by masters of the field such as the revered Syed Haider Raza, Francis Newton Souza, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Maqbool Fida Husain, Tyeb Mehta and Akbar Padamsee. The sale of 105 lots is estimated to fetch in the region of £4 million, with estimates ranging from £1,000 to over £450,000.
“The incredible growth of Indian Art over the past five years has seen Christie’s annual sale totals increase from $600,000 in 2000 to $42 million worldwide in 2006. After an eight-year hiatus, during which the Modern Indian sales were expanded to New York, Hong Kong and the emerging market of Dubai, Christie's has now added London, a city that is home to many Indians and lovers of Indian art,” says Yamini Mehta, Christie’s Director of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art.
Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002) - A superb selection of works from one of the masters of modern Indian art, Francis Newton Souza (b. 1924), offers a wonderful opportunity to established collectors looking to enhance their collections or those just starting out. An artist who combines great intellect with raw emotion, Souza looked to Western Modernism for inspiration on how to radicalize and shock the South Asian art world, founding the legendary Bombay Progressive Artists Group (PAG) in 1947, the year of India's independence.
Challenging the conventional landscape is Landscape with Planet, 1962 (estimate: £200,000-300,000) which has been in the same private collection and unseen by the public since it was acquired from Victor Musgrave's Gallery One in 1962. Illustrated in the authoritative monograph on the artist by Edwin Mullins, Souza constructs his cityscape from a series of overlapping and highly faceted geometric forms in a Cubistic manner but still reminiscent of stained glass windows. Also from this collection is the sublime Landscape with Buildings, 1959 (estimate: £80,000-120,000) which was acquired from Gallery One and conceived directly from the influence of Catholic architecture which informed so much of Souza's oeuvre.
Souza's exploration of the human form displays a wide range of characteristics from sublime female nudes to more abstracted and distorted subject matter. Painted in 1960, a year that Souza received grants to visit Rome, Untitled (Man with Collar), (estimate: £100,000-150,000) mocks the religious figure depicted in an overstated and incongruous manner, bearing stylistic influences from Titian and Francisco de Goya. Appearing at auction for the first time, Still Life in Red, 1963 (estimate: £80,000-120,000) was acquired from Souza’s studio and has been in the same private collection ever since. The sale also includes delicate works on paper from the collection of Julian Hartnoll, Souza's dealer and friend; estimates range from £2,000 to £35,000.
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924-2001) - Amongst the sale highlights is a masterpiece by one of India's premier abstractionists, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, which is untitled and painted in 1968 in striking hues of emerald and pale blues (estimate: £450,000-550,000). Gaitonde began his career by meticulously creating works in the vein of Indian miniature paintings. Later in his oeuvre, he was influenced by Paul Klee, Zen Buddhism and Chinese calligraphy
Syed Haider Raza (b. 1922) - Leading the selection of works by Indian painter and founder-member of the Progressive Artists’ Group, Syed Haider Raza (b. 1922), is the seminal painting, La Terre from 1985 (estimate: £400,000-600,000) which is offered from a European collection and has been published in Geeti Sen's book, Bindu. A masterpiece of colour and composition, Raza seamlessly merges his horizontal bands with elegant obliques in what is considered one of the finest examples of painting in his oeuvre.
Contemporary Artists - Drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources, whether it is Justin Ponmany employing the means of holograms as prettifying foils for the alleys of Mumbai or Subodh Gupta capturing everyday India from the vantage of mass market goods , the contemporary section of the sale features works from some of the most sought-after upcoming artists. Also on offer are works from acclaimed Pakistani artists Talha Rathore and Nusra Latif Qureshi who form the vanguard of the contemporary miniaturists from Pakistan and have been widely exhibited internationally.