ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 21 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Sakti Burman’s tableaux came to life only because he has organized personal narratives, chance events, archival borrowings, and iconographical references into a coherent pattern for our delectation. He is a storyteller who invigorates our imagination by reminding us that we are not simply made of muscle, nerve, and bone – but that we are also made up fo the words and images, the poems and stories that we inherit from countless previous generations with our genetic code.”

More than the particularity of the stories they hold, Burman’s paintings excites the imagination and fascinates onlooker by giving us a peep into his personal life. His favorite protagonists are his own family, especially his grandchildren who would often be accompanied by figures culled from the artist’s fecund imagination. 

Here, plumed birds are set amongst playful children in pointed caps and animated gestures. Harlequin sits on a stuffed chair wearing a colorful costume and a checkered hat. He wears a withdrawn look on his face, lost to the merriment around him. 

Embedded in the current narrative are alter egos – Harlequin and Pierrot, the best-known characters from the repertoire of the commedia dell’arte and the pantomime. Presented as opposites, Harlequin and Pierrot can be considered twin aspects of the same personality manifesting against itself. Wearing a somber look on his face that exposes the sadness the colorful costume concealed, Harlequin borrows Pierrot’s melancholic outlook showing a version of Sakti’s multifaceted brand of portraiture – as an artist who participates and witness and as an actor and an observer to his creation.

Text Reference:
Ranjit Hoskote, In the Presence of Another Sky: The Confluential Art of Sakti Burman, Art Musings, Mumbai, 2017, pg. 35

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 1 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Lot 1 – Jamini Roy – Untitled (Sunset over the Hooghly River) – circa 1930’s – 16 x 21.75 in. (40.6 x 55.2 cm.) – tempera on board

Even while Jamini Roy was exploring indigenous themes, he was simultaneously learning from the works of the great European masters. He delved into the studying of the elements of composition and techniques which later allowed him to paint local landscapes and portraits in this style. 

Beyond the imitation of a particular style, the great artist worked out the notion of perspective beyond the conventional limits of naturalism to achieve harmonious balance and delightful dynamism in his landscapes. “He combines the intensity of chromatic brilliance with the free-flowing character of the brush strokes creating vistas that throb with light. The visible is certainly not discarded and is neither so subjected to design that nature submits to the pure pictorial pattern. Rather, the chromatic and the natural often play a complementary tune, one supportive of the other, such that of a patch go yellow against another of blue, need not stand in oppositional contradiction to their simultaneous descriptive identity as fields and distant trees or mountains, picked out by the rays of the sun.”1

But these landscapes are beyond just post-impressionistic color exercises, “viewed in the context of the entire oeuvre of an artist like Jamini Roy, such re-enactments do not restrict themselves merely to the art-school students regular attempts for copying, but tie-up with his efforts to evolve that personal mode of statement, which no matter how conscious or subliminal at the stage of the exercise, is part of a larger vision and intent.” 2

Text References: 
1 Sanjoy Kumar Malik, Jamini Roy (1887-1972), Rajya Charukala Parshad (Charukala Bhavan Museum), Kolkata, March 2014, p. 45
2 Ibid, pg. 47

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 23 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Lot 23 – F.N. Souza – ‘Psychiatrist and Wife’ – 1993 – 34 x 44.25 in. (85.9 x 113.8 cm.) – oil on canvas

F.N.Souza’s works are an amalgamation of the cerebral aspects and influences from literature, culture, science, nature, current events, inspiration from other artists he looked up to in the field, and his personal life. He incorporated almost everything – from the human form to landscapes, still-life to futuristic distortions, and in every possible manner and medium yet managed to make his paintings recognizably his. This uncompromising commitment to his inner muse propelled him towards the discovery of new thought, style, and avenues for his art. 

‘Psychiatrist and Wife’ is an unusual work for Souza in terms of both subject matter and the use of bold colors. Dated 1993, the period indicates Souza’s later years with a looser style, natural flowing lines, and freer use of bright colors. Here, he depicted the face of the ‘psychiatrist’ resembling his mutant profiles yet “inside out.” Using a fractured cubistic style, Souza revealed a complex and deconstructed persona reflecting on what the protagonist’s line of work connotates. In stark contrast, the ‘wife’ is shown elegant and composed. She was depicted not as a sexual object, as Souza had previously done, but poised and dignified.

Despite the disparate style, the couple appears united due to the similar palette used – which merged the compositional elements; and the general use of a thick bold black outline, a favorite artistic device of Souza. Playing on the perspective element of the work, the artist placed the figures in the foreground, straddling the landscape while simultaneously merging into it.

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 9 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Jogen Chowdhury celebrates and maintains a uniquely Indian approach to art for the last 40 years of his career. This singular sensibility along with his mastery of lines distinguishes his work and cements him as one of India’s important artists in the 21st century. After growing up in a refugee settlement in former Calcutta during the partition of India, he made art his medium of evaluating his milieu; and portrayed the starkness of reality he witnessed. Indian family life and traditional folklore also inspired him, equally at ease in depicting idyllic rural life along with complex issues of sexuality, poverty, and politics.

He depicted his figures in a simple yet dramatized presence by stripping them down to the most basic of form. He uses strong fluid lines and carefully exaggerates proportion to distort and impart an air of caricature. He also employs an intricate network of crosshatches to add weight to the image and give texture to the overall surface while using pastel colors to provide matter into the form. 

In the present lot, he portrays a woman lying seductively on a bed, her hair loose, and eyes wide and hypnotic towards an unknown viewer. Her body is draped in a light cloth that silhouetted her curves, while one of her shoulders is bare. Posed as if playing with her long slender fingers, the provocative gesture enhances the enigmatic situation and showcases the artist’s masterful understanding of both human form and relationships. He depicted her with extremely agile body parts slightly cropped against a background that seems to vanish. Jogen essentially crops the central image to conceal some parts in some of his more recent works; he explained, “The moment I show the entire figure, the interest in the details would be lost[…].”

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 25 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Lalu Prasad Shaw is a self-trained artist who emerged as one of the leading figures among Indian graphic artists during the resurgence of printmaking in the late sixties. He made a name for himself both in India and abroad, winning acclaim, accolades and cementing himself as one of the best in the field. More than printmaking, he is also one of the few painters who led Bengal art in a new direction when Indian art was in dire need of a fresh beginning.

It was during the early 1970s when he joined Kala Bhavana as a faculty member that his art took to this new direction of painting after getting inspired by Company Period Lucknow temperas. This switch to an entirely new idiom and media was a stretch from the abstract graphics that he did for long; however, it did not clash with his pursuit of figuration. 

In the picture, the lady is standing with a gentle gesture while enjoying a quiet time of leisure. She exudes an air of elegance and refinement seen in her posture, accessories, and entire demeanor. The portrait is achieved with bright flat colors and tidy lines while confined within borders, an idiom fashioned from diverse sources of native pictorial tradition. As with his early temperas, there is an obvious reference to the Bengal School but evolved to bear the imprint of a modernist sensibility.

Text Reference: 
Manasij Majumder, Lalu Prasad Shaw: A Dual Discourse, The Fine Art Advisory, Dubai, unpaginated

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 4 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

In a career spanning over five decades, Anjolie Ela Menon’s work has a distinct amalgamation of western style with eastern subject influences. Her figures resemble early Christian iconography with a beautiful rendering of Indian themes. 

As a figurative painter, her paintings have very distinctive features influenced by Byzantine and Romanesque paintings and murals that she encountered in the early years of her career. Concurrently, the influence of everyday life is also evident in her works as seen in the current picture. Here, she depicted an image of a young Brahmin man, possibly a Namboodri Brahmin priest from her husband’s native land of Kerala. The holy man was identifiable through the thread around his chest along with the ritualistic mark on his forehead. 

She had frequently depicted them along with sadhus in her works from the 1990s onwards. A period of time when India was experiencing “religious turbulence over issues such as ‘the Mandir and the Masjid,’ she uses these “essentially Hindu devices to chant a compelling litany of both Ram and Rahim…”

Text Reference: 
Isana Murti, Anjolie Ela Menon, New Delhi, 1995, pg. 37

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 10 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Sayed Haider Raza first painted the Bindu in the late 1970s as a single solid black dot that lay unmoving at the center of a field of colors. Through the years, however, this circle or bindu manifested itself in various forms in his works and took on several different meanings, as zero, drop, or seed. It became less of a graphical component and more as the focal point on which Raza structured his canvases. 

Here, the artist has turned to yet another interpretation of the bindu, executed in an almost abstinent palette of white and grays. Titled, Shanti – Bindu, the rings that radiate from the spherical white core of the painting transmits outward spreading tranquility and calmness. Once again, the bindu was transformed, from a pulsing black orb to a gentler quality, emitting an image of ethereal stillness and peace.  

Likening his monochromatic works to his spiritual journey, Raza posited: “I have found a divine quest in me to come to the essentials. Less is more. And I thought, that to express my aspirations to the divine, I would use fewer colors, to create a sacred feel.”

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 30 – Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Lot 30 – M.F. Husain – ‘Perhaps these three horses are like three cheers for my Knighthood’ – 1989 – 40 x 60 in. (101.6 x 152.4 cm.) – acrylic on canvas

“My horses are classical because I see them as ageless and immortal. They draw chariots in the great epics, they stand proudly in the poorest stables, they are embodiments of strength like the dragon of China. I don’t show their hooves because there’s no need to. My eyes stop at the color, I don’t have to paint the details because the details are superfluous. Art is not in the painting, art is in the artist. He relives life through his painting.” – M.F. Husain

M.F. Husain encountered and portrayed the equine figure throughout his artistic career; this fascination later took him to various continents and cultures. He acknowledged the influence of terracotta horses from the Qin dynasty, the hundreds of galloping horse paintings he studied during his travels to China, along with the equine sculptures of the Italian sculptor Marino Marini (1901- 1980) in his works, among others. Yet he considers the tazias (effigies) of Imam Husayn’s faithful horse during Muharram processions of his boyhood as the core inspiration in his quest to represent the form. 

The muscular bodies of the horses are carefully interwoven in this composition, galloping and rampant beside one another, portraying energy and dynamism. Their necks are elegantly arched, their strong heads held high as if caught while braying. Their mouths, as seen here, resemble that of a dragon’s – masculine and feral – while their hinds are distinctly feminine, making them a perfect combination of strength and grace. Husain paid particular attention to the palette using blocks of vivid and sharp colors, reminiscent of the Basholi period and one of his favorite artistic devices, to accentuate movement in the picture and lend the entire composition depth and lyricism. Titled ‘Perhaps these three horses are like three cheers for my Knighthood’ and dated 1989, the current lot refers to the conferment of Husain’s third civilian honor from the Government of India – the Padma Vibhushan Award on the same year and which he referred to as his knighthood. He previously received the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan in 1955 and 1973, respectively.  

Making use of a wide range of cultural inspiration as wells as personal experiences, Husain bestowed his horses with a potent and evocative presence, representing his captivation and fascination with the equine figure throughout different stages of his career.

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA announces Online Auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art – No Buyer’s Premium – 12-16 March 2020

Browse the auction at www.artiana.com

ARTIANA, UAE’s first home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles, is offering 40 artworks from the Indian subcontinent in their South Asian Art auction on March 12 to March 16. Showcasing a broad and inclusive range of fine works in various media such as oils, acrylics, and paper works, the auction feature works by modernist masters including members of the Progressive Artist’s Group (PAG) – M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza – and leading contemporary artists from the region like Paresh Maity and Jogen Chowdhury among others.  

Leading the auction is M.F. Husain’s ‘Perhaps these three horses are like three cheers to my Knighthood’ painted in 1989 with impeccable provenance, and another seminal work, ’Battle of Karbala’ painted in 1990. 

The collection also includes exceptional pieces from S.H. Raza providing a glimpse of the artist’s more spiritual works, including ‘Toi-Moi’ painted in 2004 which alludes to one of Sant Tukaram’s abhang and an almost monochromatic work titled ’Shanti-Bindu’ painted in 2001. A rare work from F. N. Souza from 1993 also features in the auction titled ‘Psychiatrist and Wife’ highlighting the artist’s virtuosity and commitment to his inner muse. 

ARTIANA will also offer various works from prominent artist Sakti Burman, along with Ram Kumar’s semi-abstracted landscapes, and Krishen Khanna’s bandwallahs. A collection of Jamil Naqsh’s works comprising of his signature subjects and calligraphy pieces are also part of the sale catalogue. 

The collection will be sold through an online auction at www.artiana.com from March 12 (6:00 pm) through March 16th (9:00 pm) UAE time with a No Buyer’s Premium policy in an essentially ‘What You Bid Is What You Pay’ format. FlexiPay which allows buyers to ‘Bid Now Pay Later’ will also be available for eligible clients. (FlexiPay scheme details are available on their website.)

The catalogue can be viewed online, and viewings can be arranged by prior appointment. Collectors may place bids at ARTIANA’s website, or through the mobile app available on both Google Play for Android and the App Store for Apple devices.

For information on how to register and bid, visit their website at www.artiana.com; For assistance and inquiries, call Artiana’s Help Desk at +971 55 815 3030 or write to info@artiana.com. 

Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 50 – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 5-9 December 2019

Untitled (Flying Angel) – 1993 – acrylic on paper – 14.75 x 21.5 in. (37.6 x 54.6 cm.)

The current lot is reminiscent of the artist’s ‘Figures in Landscape, Freeport, Bahamas’ which was painted in 1971 and evokes the feeling of enjoying under the sun and lazing on the beach. F.N. Souza used bright sunlit colors to portray a sense of lightness that is so dissimilar from his usual and dark palette choices. Aside from the uncharacteristic palette choice, the picture appears to have been executed perfunctorily without much attention to details of the figure.

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020