Sotheby's | Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art | 14.03.2017 | New York

22 Feb, 2017 - Jyotsna Sharma

Sotheby’s New York sale of Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art on the 14th of March will showcase works by Raja Ravi Varma, Maqbool Fida Husain and Francis Newton Souza among others. 97% of the 58 Lots have never appeared at auction before.

What is exciting is that alongside the preview, there is a two-day contemporary art course in collaboration with Sotheby's Institute of Art, similar to the programme held in Mumbai last October. The highlights of the programme include discussions on key aspects such as, ‘The Emergence of Contemporary Art, 1960-1980’ and  ‘Indian and South Asian Art in a Global Context’.

Coming back to the sale, among the key lots is an important 1960’s Gujral.



b. 1925

Untitled (Man)

Oil and encaustic on canvas

Painted in 1960

Estimate - $ 8,000-12,000


Acquired directly from the artist by Dr. Milton and Betsy Heifetz in early 1960s during their maiden trip to India. Painter, sculptor, muralist, architect and interior designer, Satish Gujral, has been described as a true ‘renaissance artist’ whose work marks a lifelong journey of experimentation within a range of media and forms of expression.


At a time when most of his contemporaries left for Europe, Gujral made his way to the ‘New World’ in the midst of great social and political upheaval. In 1952, Gujral won a scholarship to apprentice at the Palacio Nationale de Belles Artesin, Mexico under Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. Siqueiros along with Rivera and Orozco had established Mexican Muralism, a tradition of painting large-scale images of protest and nationalistic messages on public buildings. Gujral's political leanings at the time were to the left so he felt an instant affinity with Mexico's Communist art establishment. He stayed until 1954 and it was during this time that both India and Mexico were experiencing significant social and political change. Gujral’s discontent with the social situation in India during the partition fueled his artistic output and cemented his interest in the subject. 


The grief of the episode and the artist’s personal experience pours onto the canvas with a dark and sombre palette. The covered faces, veils and long shrouds of clothing reflect those wanting to hide and escape the blight. The looming shadows and the play of light add to the moody contrast of the picture.


Gujral’s grounding in applied arts created the basis for his understanding of a medium, which he has used to analyse space and structure even in the most commonplace objects. He also explores the architectonic qualities of form through an elegant juxtaposition of minimalist lines and shapes. During the 1960’s, Gujral worked with the architect Le Corbusier on the Capital Complex in Chandigarh, India. Line, texture and color became as important as the subject itself. He projected ideas through substance and design to create a mood, which enveloped his creations. The artist subsequently changed his style and technique after this series of works but their significance cannot be overlooked especially, in depicting this horrific time that brought about the birth of modern India.



We will keep an eye on the auction for you and promise to bring you the sale highlights.

Topic: Art