Bonhams, the international auction house, will feature some of the greatest Indian artists in modern times at its forthcoming Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale in London on 27 May 2016.
Burgeoning interest in Indian art in recent years has heightened the awareness for South Asian modern painting and demand has rocketed. Many previously relatively unknown artists have since become household names.
This sale includes works from the Bengal School, including Sudhir Khastgir and Ramkinkar Baij, demonstrating the early influence of East Asian wash techniques and the emerging pan Asian aesthetic. The influence of these early artists, straddling the era of British rule and Independence, feeds into the contemporary pieces in the sale by Bikash Bhattacharjee and Sakti Burman. Romanticised, idyllic pastoral scenes by Sailoz Mookherjea and M.F. Husain are offered along with more conventionally modernist works by F.N. Souza and S.H. Raza.
Tahmina Ghaffar, Head of Sale for Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, said: “Bonhams is always looking for previously undervalued artists, to bring them to light and to give them the attention they deserve. The sale features a number of works fresh to the market from esteemed private collections in Europe and the US, catering to the growing sophistication of Indian art collectors. We’re confident we will continue our trajectory of success in the Indian art market.”
Leading the sale is an Untitled (Landscape) by F.N. Souza. Souza is known for his energetic and often highly erotic work, and has achieved record-breaking prices for Indian artists over the years. The famed critic John Berger described him as an artist who “straddles many traditions but serves none.” His relentless creative force is very much apparent in this landscape, which depicts a frenzied and foreboding world.
“Souza brings a sense of macabre, black comedy to his work,” said Ghaffar. “This piece is a wonderful example of the wild and farcical phase he went through during the early sixties.” Souza had founded the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group in 1947, a formative movement that aimed to propel Indian modern art onto the international stage.
Other sale highlights are works by Zarina Hashmi and Nalini Malani. New York based Indian artist Zarina Hashmi is well known for her versatility in medium, and her abstract, minimal style. She was one of the five artists selected to be in India’s first entry to the Venice Biennale, and has had retrospectives at the Hammer Museum LA, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Guggenheim New York. “This rare sculpture, one of the two lots on offer by Hashmi at the sale, is a wonderfully minimalist commentary on the movement of people and the search for an identity beyond mere national borders.” said Ghaffar.
More well known for her video art and installations, Nalini Malani’s work is a visceral and vibrant oil painting. In 2013 Malani became the first Asian woman to receive the Arts & Culture Fukuoka Prize for her “consistent focus on such daring contemporary and universal themes as religious conflict, war, oppression of women and environmental destruction.” In October 2017, Nalini Malani will be the first Indian artist to have a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
The Bonhams Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale will take place on Friday 27 May 2016 at 10:00 BST.