Masterworks by Souza, Husain, Raza, Pyne and others up for bids at Astaguru's Modern Indian Art auction

Kala Ghoda-based online auction house AstaGuru will present its first Modern Indian Art auction for the year 2019, on the 27th and 28th of March.
Mutation by FN Souza, Lot No 20 (detail)
Mutation by FN Souza, Lot No 20 (detail)

Kala Ghoda-based online auction house AstaGuru will present its first Modern Indian Art auction for the year 2019, on the 27th and 28th of March.

The auction has some stellar works in store for art collectors, and Astaguru will present 40 lots, each one selected after meticulous research. The current auction has a plethora of artworks by Modern Indian Artists such as Nandalal Bose, FN Souza, Jehangir Sabavala, MF Husain, SH Raza, Ganesh Pyne, Bhupen Khakkar, Adi Davierwala, VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, Jogen Chowdhury, Manjit Bawa, J Swaminath, and Prabhakar Barwe to name a few. 

One of the key artwork that is going to be part of the sale is Nandalal Bose’s work titled Arjuna. Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s play Chitrangada this particular work is a national treasure.

It is the first time that this particular work has been put up for sale and is an exemplary representation of his style. 

Another artwork that is influenced by a Tagore play is Ganesh Pyne’s Raktakarabi. This artwork is of great importance since it was executed during his formative years, and aided his visual vocabulary.

Paintings revolving around the theme of death became a huge part of Pyne’s work, and in this work, he depicts the scene where Nandini is lamenting the death of her fellow patriot and lover, while the dominion of tyranny is represented by a standing figure in a red cape.
In the same context, another key work they have is from Bikash’s Doll Series. It was his work in the Doll Series that got a lot of critical acclaim and shot him to fame.

The eerie quality lent to the work is because of his ability to depict these dolls and give them human characteristics and emotions. The current lot showcases the doll hanging on an overhead wire, gazing ahead unflinchingly at the observer.  

Moving from the Bengal region to Bombay, they have some important works by the PAG artists. A painting titled Portrait of a Girl by Husain is of particular importance.

Not only does the work highlight Husain’s excellent portraiture skills, but it also shows his long tryst with India’s first political family.

<em>Last Howl from the Cross by FN Souza, Lot No 35</em>
Last Howl from the Cross by FN Souza, Lot No 35

Always enamoured by women in powerful positions, this particular work’s inspiration was Indira Gandhi. It was painted around the time Indira Gandhi was appointed the first female President of the National Congress. The fact that this painting was also selected as the cover image of the artist’s exhibition catalogue speaks volumes of its importance. 

The auction also features two important works by PAG founder Francis Newton Souza. The first one is quite unique because it moves away from Souza’s usual depiction of human figures, and depicts a horse in captivity. Painted in 1963, it depicts a time in Souza’s life when he was exploring the theme of man’s bestiality towards the other.  

<em>Mutation by FN Souza, Lot No 20</em>
Mutation by FN Souza, Lot No 20

The second work of Souza present in the auction goes back to Souza’s roots in Goa, and his Catholic upbringing. Titled The last Howl from the Cross, it portrays the important scene of the crucifixion. In this work, FN Souza depicts Christ in that exact moment of anguish and pain instead of the meek, forgiving son of God.

Another highlight is a seminal work by SH Raza from his iconic La Terre Series. It marks a transitional phase in Raza’s work. This particular work, with the colour composition reminiscent of the rich topography of India, expresses his desire to return home. 

<em>Untitled Nude by FN Souza, Lot No 24</em>
Untitled Nude by FN Souza, Lot No 24

While other artists dabbled with abstraction or inculcated it in their work much later, Gaitonde always stuck to this style. His works are a world within themselves. The lot present in this auction is a painting from the year 1963 and was originally part of the collection from the Glenbarra Art Museum Japan.

The 1960s were the most definitive decade for Gaitonde, as an artist. By this time he was deeply immersed in Zen philosophy, and the influence is apparent in his work. 

The auction also features a painting by Tyeb Mehta from the year 1962, which is representative of the expressionist paintings that the artist did during that period.

<em>Horse by FN Souza, Lot No 12</em>
Horse by FN Souza, Lot No 12

The work is executed with crude brush strokes, creating a heavily textured surface. Around this time, he visited London with his wife, and this work is a result of a mixed bag of influences right from Francis Bacon’s art to writers such as Gide and Sartre. 

The tribal series forms an important part of Swaminathan’s oeuvre and a 1992 painting from this series is a key part of the auction. Swaminathan travelled extensively in the tribal belts of Madhya Pradesh and gained a deeper knowledge about tribal art forms.

He was fascinated with the symbols created by the tribal people, and started applying colour pigments with his hands, to create a desired effect. This style was vastly different from his previous work, and yet, remained true to his one goal of always being original. He saw the value of transcendence present in the tribal and folk art, and incorporated it into his own work. 

With such iconic artworks as a part of the collection, Astaguru’s Modern Indian Art auction is a highly anticipated event in the art circle. To view the complete catalogue visit the Astaguru website.

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