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Home / Mumbai News / Sotheby’s back with a Gaitonde, Hussain, Souza

Sotheby’s back with a Gaitonde, Hussain, Souza

This will be the auction house’s second live sale in India. All the masterpieces on the block are up for public viewing at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

mumbai Updated: Nov 14, 2019 17:17 IST
Vanessa Viegas
Vanessa Viegas
Hindustan Times
A 1974 Untitled VS Gaitonde painting procured from the private collection of actor and society doyenne Sabira Merchant, will be headlining the sale. The work comes from a time when India was at the cusp of entering the atomic and space age, and features five orbs suspended in space like planets.
A 1974 Untitled VS Gaitonde painting procured from the private collection of actor and society doyenne Sabira Merchant, will be headlining the sale. The work comes from a time when India was at the cusp of entering the atomic and space age, and features five orbs suspended in space like planets.(Sotheby’s India )

After its maiden live auction in Mumbai last year, which set a record price for the artist Amrita Sher-Gil in the country (The Little Girl in Blue went for ₹18.69 crore), Sotheby’s is back for its second Boundless: India sale.

BOUNDLESS: INDIA
  • WHEN: For public viewing: November 14 and 15, 11.30 am to 3 pm; Sale: November 15, 7.30 pm onwards
  • WHERE: The Ballroom, The Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba
  • Entry is free

The 61 lots on the block this time span paintings, drawings, sculptures and architectural drawings, “featuring the “best and the boldest of South Asian contemporary art,” according to Yamini Mehta, deputy chairperson of Sotheby’s India.

Headlining the sale is a never-before-seen painting by India’s modern master VS Gaitonde, from the private collection of actor and society doyenne Sabira Merchant and husband Chotu Merchant. The untitled work from 1974 is expected to fetch between ₹21 crore and ₹28 crore.

The work was acquired by the Merchants in 1975, a time when India was at the cusp of entering the atomic and space age, and features five orbs suspended in space like planets. It was also a prelude to Gaitonde’s fascination with what would become a signature motif in his works – the bindu or circle.

The spotlight is also on nine rare works by one of India’s most influential 20th-century artists, Bhupen Khakhar. In June, Khakhar’s Two Men in Benaras (1982) sold for a record $3.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London.

The Khakhar collection at the Mumbai auction is led by Tiger and Stag, last seen in the artist’s retrospectives at the Tate Modern in London and expected to fetch between ₹3 crore and ₹5 crore.

Bhupen Khakhar’s Tiger and Stag  is a confluence of many influences, says Yamini Mehta of Sotheby’s India.
Bhupen Khakhar’s Tiger and Stag is a confluence of many influences, says Yamini Mehta of Sotheby’s India. ( Sotheby’s India )

The auction will also feature celebrated Indian works back from foreign shores. These include FN Souza’s Last Supper (1990), which comes here from Japan’s Glenbarra Art Museum where it has been for two decades. “This painting is from a time in Souza’s life when he was dealing with personal losses like his mother’s death. So it’s a very elegiac type of work,” says Mehta.

Other works on display include a rare painting by MF Husain titled Blue Boy on Tree Top, Sudhir Patwardhan’s Cyclist, ink and pencil drawings by RK Laxman and architectural drawings from the Mumbai-based architectural firm Ditchburn, Mistri and Bedwar, which showcases the original sketches of some of Mumbai’s most iconic buildings — including the Metro cinema, the Army & Navy Building and HSBC Bank.

Though the sale comes at a time of economic turbulence in India, Mehta says the works on display are hard to come by and that is what will likely attract collectors from all over. “After all, these are works of art that have both critical and commercial appeal,” she says.

(Prices cited are not inclusive of buyer’s premium)

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