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Raza topples estimates at Sotheby's

Well-known painter S H Raza's 'Tapovan' fetched an astounding $1.47 at the spring sale.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, New York
PUBLISHED ON MAR 30, 2006 03:55 PM IST

Well known Indian painter S.H. Raza's 'Tapovan' fetched an astounding $1.472 million at Sotheby's spring sale here, while compatriot Tyeb Mehta's 'Falling Figure with Bird' fetched a close $1.24 million.

The auction of Indian and Southeast Asian Art whopped up a total of $13.633 million here Wednesday.

Before the auction, the mood was upbeat and everyone had staked their preference for Tyeb Mehta's 1988 work (estimated at $800,000 to 1 million), which has a simple coloured background of blue and brown with the contorted outlines of a plunging figure and bird suggesting comparison to the anguished forms in Picasso's 'Guernica'.

However, Raza's 'Tapovan' or 'Forest of Meditation', toppled estimates. 'Raza is indeed the man for the season and the year 2006,' a Bodhi Art critic had predicted early this year.

At Sotheby's, his 1972 work, which represents a visual expression of his own meditation on the mystical power of nature and was pegged at $800,000 to 1 million, fetched an amount exceeding all predictions.

Raza, who spent his childhood in the forests of central India, recalled the potency of colours and symbols and the magic of hidden embers in this work of visual vocabulary.

Two other works by Raza - 'Village Au Soleil', a 1958 work, and 'Le Soleil Regne Sur Le Monde Des Reves', a 1970 work, - went for $180,000 each.

Ram Kumar's 'Falling Bird' went for $542,400, while his other works 'Varanasi' fetched $108,000. An untitled landscape went for $120,000.

A happy high was N.S Bendre's 'Boats at Porbunder' that went for $144,000. Anjolie Menon's 'Prophet' fetched $66,000.

Other highlights from the Modern section include a 1960's canvas by F.N. Souza, 'The Pope and his Nephews', which sold for $508,000. The painting based on the famous portrait by Titian of Pope Paul III and his grandsons was estimated at $200,000-300,000. Souza's 'Landscape' sold for $108,000.

A large untitled abstract by J. Swaminathan went for $800,000 way beyond its $300,000-400,000 estimate. An exceptional early 'Cityscape' (1959) by Akbar Padamsee fetched $716,000.

Padamsee's 'Metascape', which was expected to set a high, went for $307,200, which didn't seem much.

M.F. Husain's works didn't quite do as well as expected, and there was some reluctance among a few bidders. 'Procession' and an untitled work of horses both went for $168,000. Husain's 'Horses Blue Nude' went for $464,000.

Interestingly, young Paresh Maity's 'Desert Storm' went for $33,000 while his 'Dusk' went for $30,000.

Sobodh Gupta's 'Before the Plunge' went for $51,000 while Jitish Kallat's work fetched $42000. Chhittravanu Majumdar's work went for $72,000, Atul Dodiya's 'Sabari as Mermaid' fetched $22,800, while his wife Anju Dodiya's 'The Churning' got $108,000.

The sale saw some disappointments, some average and some hairline estimates that brought a ho-hum feeling rather than ecstasy. The day clearly belonged to Syed Haider Raza.

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