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Sabavala set to soar?

Days after the legendary artist passes away, curators, auctioneers divided over whether value of his works will surge

art and culture Updated: Sep 04, 2011 16:14 IST
Shweta Mehta

Towards the end of his career, Jehangir Sabavala had been creating only a handful of canvasses a year, each displaying his mastery of geometric planes to instill a sense of depth most commonly in landscapes.

The late artist’s works have always been a favourite with curators, collectors and art enthusiasts alike. So it’s natural that the demand for his few unsold works is set to increase.

Pravina Mecklai of Jamaat Art Gallery vouches for this: “He was not a very prolific painter, although very conscientious. Because his works are rare, their value is definitely going to increase tremendously.”

However, curator and gallery owner Abhay Maskara begs to differ. He opines that the artist’s death can only create a psychological impact on buyers who are keen to add Sabavala’s remaining few works to their collections.

“It’s hard to put a value to his paintings. Of course there is a limited number now, but he has a significant body of work. I feel the prices will follow the vagaries of the market. The rest is just speculation.”

Meanwhile, auction houses may be the best witnesses to notice the rise in demand for his works. Popular auction house, Saffronart, which last year sold Sabavala’s work, The Casuarina Line 1 at a world-record price of Rs 1.7 crore, may once again include the artist’s works in their upcoming auction, though they cannot confirm the same at the moment.

Toeing the line are others like Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA), which organises charitable auctions every year.

Says Piali Syam, director, special projects, CPAA, “His paintings were out of bounds for us as their value goes into crores at times, but we do have some of his serigraphs, which may be up for auction next year.”

She adds, “Many patrons would come only to buy his work. So, the value of his works will definitely increase, but I’m not sure by how much.”