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Home / Mumbai News / An untitled tomato by Raza is among rare works at a Sotheby’s exhibition

An untitled tomato by Raza is among rare works at a Sotheby’s exhibition

The show will feature 10 lots from an upcoming auction to be held in London on October 23.

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2018 16:28 IST
Krutika Behrawala
Krutika Behrawala
Hindustan Times
One of the only three known SH Raza paintings of fruits and vegetables.
One of the only three known SH Raza paintings of fruits and vegetables.

Preview of lots from Sotheby’s upcoming South Asian art auction
  • WHEN: September 21
  • WHERE: The Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba
  • Entry is free

By the late 1980s, Sayed Haider Raza created his most famous motif — Bindu (dot) — and immersed himself in abstract art. But in 1988, he filled a canvas with an untitled figurative work — a luscious, half-cut tomato. This rarely seen piece is one of the only three known Raza paintings of fruits and vegetables. This masterpiece will be on display in Mumbai as part of an exhibition by the auction house Sotheby’s next week.

The show features 10 lots from Sotheby’s upcoming Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art auction, which will be held in London on October 23. A section of the sale focuses on important works by trailblazers such as Raza, MF Husain and FN Souza from Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. These works are also the highlights of the Mumbai chapter.

“The Progressives were among the first artists to break away from traditional, academic practices and embrace Indian themes with avant-garde western styles. They were the fathers and mothers of modernism,” says Ishrat Kanga of Sotheby’s. “They paved the way for the next generation of artists. Many of the works in the exhibition are rarely seen in public and have largely remained hidden in private collections.”

Watch out for Husain’s untitled (Fertility), a work themed on motherhood featuring a woman, an orb and a crudely outlined kerosene lamp. Husain created it at the peak of his career in the late 1960s.

“It’s a deeply personal painting,” says Yamini Mehta, international head of Indian and South Asian Art at Sotheby’s. “The radiant orb likely represents a woman’s womb, and the kerosene lamp speaks to the artist’s relationship with his grandfather, a lamp repairer and tin smith.”

Another highlight is a 1960 untitled still-life by Souza that depicts religious vessels on an altar.

“It is one of an important group of still-life that he painted from the mid-1950s to early 1960s, all built around ecclesiastical themes, influenced by his Catholic upbringing in Goa,” says Mehta. “This is an especially bold and dramatic example from the series.”

Works by Ram Kumar, Bikash Bhattacharjee and Arpita Singh will also be on display.

Sotheby’s has timed the Mumbai show to coincide with an exhibition titled The Progressive Revolution that opened at Asia Society Museum in New York on September 14.

“The Asia Society show is really an exciting moment for these artists. It is a turning point — they’re getting the broader international recognition they deserve,” says Mehta.