As part of Asian Art Week online, Christie’s presents its South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art auction, opening for bidding today, 7 July and closing on 22 July.
A total of 64 works retrace 100 years of creative endeavours and artistic production in the South Asian subcontinent. Works by Tyeb Mehta, Francis Newton Souza, Maqbool Fida Husain, Akbar Padamsee, Sayed Haider Raza and Ram Kumar represent the best of the Progressive Artists’ Group in the auction alongside important works by other pioneers of modern South Asian art such as N.S. Bendre, M.V. Dhurandhar, Jagdish Swaminathan, Jehangir Sabavala, Sadequain, George Keyt and Zainul Abedin.
Additionally, the sale includes a sculpture and print by the late contemporary artist Zarina, and a group of works on paper by Nasreen Mohamedi from a private collection in Turkey. The last two lots of the sale have been donated by the artist Imran Qureshi (b.1974) to benefit student performance arts at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore.
Nishad Avari, specialist and Head of Sale noted, “This July as part of the first virtual Asian Art Week in New York, we are excited to present a standalone online auction of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art. The sale includes several masterpieces that have never been offered at auction before, including one of Tyeb Mehta’s first and most seminal versions of the Falling Figure, painted in 1965, and Francis Newton Souza’s Frightened Head from 1957, both with stellar provenance and notable exhibition histories.”
The human figure remained the central focus for six decades of Tyeb Mehta’s (1925-2009) artistic career. An early stylistic turn in Mehta’s work followed his stay in England from 1959 to 1964, which resulted in a new Expressionist vocabulary on his canvases. This brief transitional period in Mehta’s work bridged the time between his sombre early portraits and his introduction of the revolutionary ‘diagonal’ and complete flattening of the painted surface following a trip to New Yorkon a Rockefeller Fund Fellowship in 1968.
The Falling Figure, a subject Mehta began to explore during this period, was born out of a traumatic childhood memory he carried of witnessing the violent death of a man during the bloody Partition riots of the Subcontinent in 1947.
The sale offers an overview of 10 centuries of Southeast Asian culture by offering a total of 86 lots. The earliest work of art is dated 9th century, and the latest is from the late 19th century. Geographically the works cover India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, and Cambodia.