Hassan Massoudy is known for his works on paper that integrates both calligraphy and figural representations. His creations are a subtle mix of oriental and occidental art, tradition, and modernity.
The present lot, like most of his works, highlight individual letters and words in saturated colors, stretched across the paper. The painting usually contains quotes and phrases from poets and writers from all over the world with the text written on a smaller scale framing the central letter or word, which is used to signify the essence of the message.
Massoudy perpetuates tradition but manages to be free from the constraints by the strict rules that governed the art form. Although Arabic calligraphy is traditionally done in black ink, Massoudy introduced other colors in his work to fully express himself. He further pushed its boundaries by merging it with abstract imagery.
The value of beauty in calligraphy lies in the execution and the perfection of style. Over the years, Massoudy purified and simplified his form while also maintaining a body of work that is inspired by a deep humanistic interest. By joining the ancient tradition of Arabic calligraphy with French plasticity, he continues to make something new but remains deeply rooted in the old.
Reflective of Iranian history and tradition that incorporated many religions and cultures into its realms, the interaction of cultures and exchange of ideas enabled a vibrant cultural and artistic heritage from which Farah Ossouli draws inspiration for her works.
Ossouli pioneered the introduction of contemporary themes and ideas into miniature painting. Her modern take on Persian miniatures resembles highly decorated minarets with their geometric and calligraphic designs that tell countless stories. However, her most significant influence is from Iranian poems, which for her is as enduring as human nature. In her works, she portrays stories of love, violence, friendship, and family; themes that are as timeless as in the times of Persian miniature.
The current lot titled, ‘Waiting’ shows Farah’s thin and precise brushwork in an unbelievably detailed idiom. The woman, portrayed in bright and vibrant colors, is shown through a cutaway with exterior views visible in the facade. Lighting throughout the picture is even while the whole work is divested of shadows. The picture is in a vertical format that is reminiscent of Persian miniatures influenced by Chinese scrolls in the 14th century.
In typical miniatures, there are often panels of text inside the picture area enclosed in a frame. Ossouli replaces the spaces for text with a broader band of color that borders the image, manipulating both the picture area and the scale of the figure. The rest of the work is in dense and detailed design; particularly the background which was achieved through extremely delicate and controlled brushwork, as evident in the details of the plants, the birds and the patterns on the clothes.
Replete in symbolism in a modern retelling of stories, Farah appropriates the language of miniature painting into her work turning it into a contemporary idiom that is both timeless and teeming with history.
Online auction house Artiana will conduct a sale of classical, modern and contemporary South Asian art from October 26 to 30. Highlights of the event include The Last Supper (left), a seminal work by M.F. Husain, which was sold for $2 million in 2005, establishing a record for the highest price paid for a modern work from India; and an Arabian-themed painting from Husain’s Ibn Zainab series done in the late 1970s.
Founded by art expert Lavesh Jagasia, Artiana has a unique auction model that offers traditional auction house services such as printed catalogues, pre-sale viewings, and expert advice, but does not charge a buyer’s premium. The online format, and Artiana’s proprietary auction application software, allows buyers from around the globe to place their bids at any time convenient to them. Bids can also be placed via a mobile app, available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
The paintings can be viewed at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Downtown Dubai, by prior appointment, from October 15 to 25. The auction will begin at 6pm on October 26, with final bids being accepted between 6.30pm to 9pm on October 30. For more details, registration, and the online catalogue, go to www.artiana.com
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts enthusiast based in Dubai. For more information and registration, visit www.artiana.com For viewing appointments, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Part of the upcoming online auction of South Asian Art are miniature paintings from the Indian subcontinent, showcasing different schools of classical paintings from 17th to 19th century. This one in particular uses opaque pigments and gold on paper, a medium unique in classical Indian miniature painting.
Maharao Ram Singh of Kota (r. 1827-66) is one of the best represented of Rajput rulers with many aspects of his life both public and personal documented by his artists. He is represented in durbars with his court and with British officials, in the many festivals of the Hindu calendar, including Dussehra as here, the Asapura festival (Kreisel 1995, fig. 132), and the riotous spring festival of Holi (Topsfield 1980, pl. 7), as well as personal worship of the deities (Seyller 2015, no. 60) , and of course many scenes of personal interest such as riding an elephant on top of the chajja of a pavilion in 1853 (Ehnbom1985, no. 64), playing polo with his noblemen (Welch 1997, no 63), entering Delhi in 1842 (ibid., no. 65), and scenes of him enjoying himself with his women (Seyller 2015, no. 61). Here, he is celebrating the autumnal Dussehra festival, commemorating the slaying of the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura by the Devi, by hunting and killing a buffalo in a ritual slaying. Other pictures suggest that this was not a solitary affair but was a communal ceremony undertaken with his nobles (Kreisel ed. 1995, fig. 133).
In our splendidly energetic painting, the Maharao is gorgeously apparelled in helmet and body armour, with room of course for jewels, over a lilac jama. He carries a small shield in his left hand which holds the reins, while an empty scabbard is by his side, the sword being used to slice at the neck of the buffalo, which is falling to the ground behind the horse. The horse is even more gorgeously caparisoned than the Maharao, with its tasselled mane, jewelled bridle and many chains with attached gold plates. Two attendants run beside on foot, one with a khanda sword and a chowrie, and the other with a sun-burst parasol. The latter may also be carrying an upright spear, unless it is attached to the horse in some way or held by an invisible attendant. The scene is set below a plain green hillside dotted with a few trees and with a walled garden near the summit of the hill.
The Maharao here appears relatively young, being without his full set of bushy sideburns that grew gradually over the course of his reign. He came to the throne at the age of 19 and one of his earliest datable portraits shows him about 25 (Bautze’s fig. 14 in Welch et al. 1997, p. 53), when his sideburns were already heavier than they are in our painting. His profile with its bulbous ending to the nose and protruding lips is instantly recognisable.
The horse rolls its eyes as the buffalo falls dying to the ground, its horns obtruding into the margin, but Ram Singh’s grave face is devoid of the pleasure of the hunt but rather intent on doing his ritual duty. A later and rather stiffer picture dated 1859 in the Mittal Museum in Hyderabad (Seyller ed. 2015, no. 63) shows the same ritual killing of the buffalo but with the Maharao using a spear rather than a sword, while a preliminary drawing for that painting is in the V&A Museum (Archer 1959, Kotah fig. 49).
ARTIANA’s upcoming online auction of Classical, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art on March 23-27, 2017 highlights this distinct work of Maqbool Fida Husain. This painting is the most valuable lot in the upcoming sale, both in terms of price and history behind the artwork.
‘Theorama’ is a ten-panel series that was influenced by Husain’s past preoccupations with theosophy and his experiences as a billboard painter. Composed in the early 90s, Theorama tributes ten different faiths — highlighting what Husain sees as the finer aspects in each; these are strung together in the series to symbolize a sense of unity or a common thread. ‘Islam’ is Husain’s masterly depiction of the Muslim faith.
To the left is a Sufi saint with his finger of ‘Kalema e Shahadah’ raised. The black and majestic cube of Kaabah, inscribed with the Arabic ‘Kaaf’, is positioned at the heart of the image, emphasizing its prominence in no uncertain terms. A circle beside the Kaabah represents the dome of The Prophet’s mosque in Madinah and is inscribed with the alphabet ‘Meem’. ‘Al-buraq’, the lightning horse, gallops across the sky to the right while the ‘Al-Shaqqul Qamar’, the splitting moon — an Islamic symbol of the scientific temper — watches over. ‘Al-Loh-al-Mehfooz’, the book of Judgement Day also sits prominently to the right.
This simple yet substantial homage to Islam is brought about through a keen use of color and line. These, along with tasteful use of religious motifs and symbolism, assembled together with intimacy and personal reverence, lends this painting the distinctness for which it is known.