S.H. Raza is considered one of the best colorist of his time. He made use of western plastic techniques and combined it with an aesthetic that is truly Indian to come up with a visual language that truly was his own.
Sayed Haider Raza began to conceive and express nature and its elements in terms of geometric patterns and primary colors rooted from deep spiritual motif by the 1970s. Since then, the elements and symbols associated with ancient Indic iconography frequently appeared in his paintings.
In the present work, Raza depicts the ‘Kundalini’ which roughly translates to coiled one in Sanskrit. It is represented as a curled serpent and believed to be the primal force of energy both in the body and the universe. This principle is manifested in this painting by the snake-like coil of painted circles that intersperse and radiates outwards.
In the center is a white bindu enclosed by intertwined nagas, while black and red concentric rings radiate around it. These interlocking forms recall the opposing though balancing forces of yin and yang and reflect on the duality present in the universe –male and female, day and night, light and dark– that sustains the cosmic cycle of life. In the background, he used colors that constitute the visible world; white, red, blue, yellow, and black that also represents the fundamental elements of creation.
Note: This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne of the artist currently being prepared by A. Macklin.
Leading ARTIANA’s upcoming South Asian sale is this exquisite work from M.F. Husain‘s Raj Series – ‘Kathak Dance Performance at the Maharaja Darbar’ painted in 1989 with impeccable provenance.
“In the mid-1980s, at the height of his celebrity as India’s most famous and flamboyant modernist and living artist, Maqbool Fida Husain cast his painterly eye back half a century and more, to a time when much of the subcontinent was still under British rule. This sharp – and surprising – (re)turn to India’s recent colonial past resulted in some among the most insightful, and also most playful, of works in different media to emerge from the brush of this prolific and imaginative artist.”1
With regards to his treatment of the British Raj subject, Husain simultaneously mimics two separate styles of British-Indian painting: formal portraiture using prominent imperial emblems and icons, and picturesque that exaggerated exotic elements.2 Husain satirized the confluence of cultures yet he does not historize his subjects; references to historical figures are intentionally oblique and were often fictionalized.
In a large scale tableau, the Maharaja’s darbar is complexly marked with Husain’s iconography —the dancer and the musicians with their traditional instruments. The titular Maharaja holds court and sits comfortably on his home ground. Sitting beside him is the English governor who is stiffly dressed in a formal military suit, decorated and bearing the symbol of the crown; with him is his Lady seated a little to the back. Historically, a darbar refers to a ruler’s court and later to ceremonial gatherings characterized by pomp and glamor during the British colonial era. It signifies the ruling Maharaja’s demonstrations of loyalty to the crown. Instead of a dismissive attitude towards this practice of paying homage to the colonizer, Husain presented both English Lord and Maharaja side by side, in equal prominence. “His India has much authority and it forms a rather bemused backdrop for the historic mutual incomprehension that the Raj embodied, He situates his presentation of the drama of the colonizer and the colonized within a discourse of equivalence.”3 Interestingly, the tiger motif that is reminiscent of Tipu’s tiger is present.
Aside from the principal subjects, the entire composition is almost devoid of colors. The kathak performer is the most colorful and dominating feature, highlighting Husain’s choice to portray India’s long artistic tradition as a continuum. Dance, particularly Indian classical dance, was heavily censored during the colonial period. The accumulation of Indian classical dancers into his pictorial tradition juxtaposed with the subject of the British Raj marked Husain’s interest in merging dance, visual art, and history by turning back to earlier indigenous forms of presenting the female body.
Husain’s work on the British Raj “provides both the political and ethical charge that runs through his works and it also distinguishes Husain’s attempts to laugh at the empire from other artistic attempts to do so that had preceded him. He really is the only major artist of his generation to deliver this message (offering) a playful but nonetheless edgy postcolonial lesson in how one might hate and disavow empire in the right way, even while learning how to live with it, mock it and laugh at it properly.”4
Text References: 1 S. Ramaswamy, Husain’s Raj, Visions of Empire and Nation, Mumbai, 2016, p. 12 2 S. Bagchee, “Augmented Nationalism: The Nomadic Eye of Painter M.F. Husain”, Asianart Online, 1998, accessed April 2019 3 Ibid. 4 S. Ramaswamy, Op. cit., p. 133,139
ARTIANA, UAE’s first home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles, is offering 50 artworks from the Indian subcontinent in their South Asian Art auction on June 13 to June 17. Showcasing a broad and inclusive range of fine works in various media such as oils, acrylics and paper works, the auction features work by masters and leading contemporary artists from the region including M. F. Husain, S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza, and Jogen Chowdhury among others.
The collection also includes exceptional paintings by members of the Progressive Artists’ Group and their associates, providing a glimpse of the formative period in the development of Indian modern art. These include S.H. Raza’s 1974 painting, Composition, which is part of the culmination of the artist’s period of experimentation before the Bindu; an exceptional work by F. N. Souza from 1955, the apex of his artistic career, titled ‘La Place Town Square‘; and Ram Kumar’s semi-abstracted landscapes.
The collection will be sold through an online auction at www.artiana.com from June 13 (6:00 pm) through June 17th (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 allow 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 email@example.com.
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.
With a career spanning over 40 years, in a period of enormous cultural and historical changes in his native Uzbekistan, Bakhodir Jalal is considered one of the leading figure of art in Central Asia.
He is credited for the reinvigoration of the mural genre and in helping shape a new cultural and artistic landscape. While his influences range from architecture, mosaics, nature, as well as from more formalist elements of Western modernism, Jalal’s art practice is firmly rooted in his national heritage. He produces works that merge various techniques reflecting his country’s ancient traditions, culture, and socio-political climate.
As with his abstract works, “Memory of the Land” is characterized by its intricate details depicting mythological stories and fantasy worlds from his imagination. He used fluid forms and colors replete with traditional Uzbek ornamentation and textile motifs to express himself. Speaking about the influences on his work, Jalal says, “My father worked in an ikat factory, and those beautiful textiles opened my eyes to color and texture at an early age. I was also inspired by the beauty of the landscape…”
Sakti Burman is a figurative artist for the most part, but the association of his figures defies the general norms and logic of reality. Apart from his drawings, Sakti paints mostly in three mediums – oil, watercolor, and pastel. While his oils are generally jubilant and vibrant, his watercolors are somewhat restrained which can be attributed to his treatment of space. This technique which developed towards a synthesis of naturalness and the abstract helps him create a minimal yet surreal environment.
“In his watercolors, he transforms vacuity of the space into a divine light of the sky through the treatment of his figurative forms. The second characteristic of his watercolors is the use of texture especially his signature pointillist. But the transparency and subtlety of application of chromatic points bring out a different character in his watercolors. The smudgy display of minute chromatic points intermingling with very tiny yet crafty non-chromatic voids displayed by the whiteness of paper creates a wave that dilutes the naturalness or reality of the environment and transposes the characters in the pictorial field to a different conceptual environment and helps to bring down the divine on the earth and elevate the mundane towards a noble sensation. This nobility is the essence of his expression.” (Mrinal Ghosh, The Divine Desire: Paintings of Sakti Burman, Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata, 2015, pg.5)
ARTIANA presents the first selection of Modern and Contemporary African art within the upcoming Art Beyond Borders sale from March 28 – 31. This serves as a preview to the auction house’s long-term dedication to showcasing work by African artists.
Art Beyond Borders is an auction sale comprising works by established and mid-career artists from Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia, focused on cross-pollination of art. The sale of 40 lots highlights an African art section presenting works by artists Kofi Agorsor (Ghana), Ablade Glover (Ghana), Ato Delaquis (Ghana), and, Muraina Oyelami (Nigeria).
ARTIANA is an online auction house that provides a credible and engaging auction platform sans boundaries, whilst redefining and streamlining the transactional process. It delivers to a global audience the excitement of art auctions through the convenient medium of the internet together with the benefits of Dubai’s business friendly environment, thereby creating a worthwhile opportunity for international collectors.
There is no buyer’s premium charged in the sale, so what you bid is what you pay. Registrations to bid in the sale can be done at www.artiana.com from March 28 – 31, 2019.
For further details, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born in Accra in 1970, Kofi Agorsor is a contemporary artist from Ghana. He initially studied Architecture for two years before switching to Art at the Accra Ankles College of Art, where he obtained his degree in 1993. In his paintings, Agorsor uses bold and vibrant colors to reflect the daily lives of people in Ghana. His subject matter borders on the generic but rendered often in a buoyant, semi-abstract and witty manner. He has participated in several solo and group exhibitions, as well as auctions both locally and internationally.
Born in Cape Coast in 1945, Ato Delaquis is one of Ghana’s foremost artist. He was one of the leading figures of the Ghanaian Renaissance and is known for his iconic paintings of horsemen, landscapes, as well as abstract works. As a prolific draughtsman, he has worked in a wide variety of media including prints, watercolor, and etchings. Ato Delaquis has exhibited widely and his works are in private collections in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Australia.
Ablade Glover is a Ghanaian artist and educator, regarded as a seminal figure on the West African art scene. He founded the Glover’s Artists Alliance Gallery in 1993 to showcase emerging talents and bring international attention to traditional and contemporary African art. He is a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.Glover has exhibited widely over several decades, and his work is held in many prestigious private and public collections, including at the Imperial Palace of Japan, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Muraina Oyelami was born in Iragbiji, Nigeria in 1940. Known as a master painter and as a great performing artist, he is one of the original products of the Oshogbo Art School. He studied at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife specializing in Theater Design, where he later taught traditional music from 1975 to 1987. Before his career in art, Oyelami was a founding member of the late Duro Ladipo Theatre Company performing as an actor and musician. Some of his works are in the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Staatlichen Kunsthalle, Berlin; National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos, Nigeria; IWALEWA- Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany; Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London among others.
Khaled Ben Slimane is a renowned sculptor and painter whose artistic practice comes from his quest for spirituality. His creative pursuit spanned the gamut of exploration; from time, the universe, space, and the mystical quality of symbols and signs. He reutilized traditional ways and materials such as canvas, bronze, wood, paper, and ceramics.
Hailing from Tunisia, he’s one of the numerous artists from the region that explored the precise dimension of signs and symbols, drawing from Berber motifs and the rich Islamic heritage. Traditionally, the symbols were painted on walls of villages and homes for their healing quality and to embody magical attributes that guard against evil and misfortunes.
By invoking their aesthetic qualities, using them in organic compositions or expanding on their mystical properties, he combines traditional symbols from the Berber culture with Andalusian themes to create abstract work that references the past and present.
Here, employing graphism Slimane synthesize new symbols from old forms to produce new meanings in a distinctive style reflective of his interest in different cultures. Also present in this work are his signature elements – the calligraphy that gives movement to his work and the repetitive colors – ochre and gold which were inspired by the masters he worked with in the past and contribute to his overall composition.