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Gaitonde, Souza to dominate Christie's May auction

Indian art's growth in the past few years has shown a manifold increase in the auction house's sales, said Christie's.

art and culture Updated: Apr 28, 2007 11:37 IST

Works of eminent Indian masters F N Souza, V S Gaitonde and S H Raza will dominate Christie's May 21 auction, in London, of modern and contemporary Indian art, which will also include works from Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The auction will take place at Christie's King Street.

"The incredible growth of Indian art over the past five years has seen Christie's annual sale 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," said Christie's.

A superb selection of works from Souza will be on show, offering an opportunity to collectors looking to enhance their collections or those just starting out.

Souza's Landscape with Planet (1962) (estimated £200,000-£300,000) has been in a private collection and unseen by the public since it was acquired from Victor Musgrave's Gallery One in 1962. 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. The work showed the influence of Catholic architecture which formed 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 when 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 an 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 - £2,000 to £35,000.

Among the sale highlights is a masterpiece by one of India's premier abstractionists, 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

Leading the selection of works is a seminal painting by Raza, La Terre (1985) (estimate: £400,000-600,000) which is 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.

Drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources, whether it is Justin Ponmany employing the means of holograms as foil for the alleys of Mumbai or Subodh Gupta capturing everyday India from the vantage of mass market goods, the contemporary section features works of some of the most sought-after upcoming artists.

Also on offer are works of 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.

The sale of 105 lots is estimated to fetch £4 million, with estimates ranging from £1,000 to over £450,000.

First Published: Apr 27, 2007 17:54 IST