One of India’s leading auction houses, Saffronart, is gearing up for two back-to-back live sales in Delhi. While the day sale will solely feature artworks by Francis Newton Souza, in the evening auctioneers will see masterpieces by VS Gaitonde, Bhupen Khakhar, Ram Kumar, SH Raza and KH Ara among other leading modernists, go under the hammer.
“There are 55 lots in the auction of Souza’s works spanning the artist’s career, from the early 1940s through the late 1990s,” says Minal Vazirani, president and co-founder, Saffronart. “Included here are drawings and works on paper, chemical alterations, a canvas and mixed media, by him all of which belong to the artist’s estate,” she adds.
The evening sale catalogue features artworks from the prolific periods in the careers of Modernists. “The focus is on Ram Kumar with six works from pivotal periods in his career. Along with paintings, the auction features a selection of impactful sculptures from leading modernists such as Pilloo Pochkhanawala, Ramkinkar Baij, KG Subramanyan and a monumental work by Jyoti Bhatt, among others,” says Vazirani.
She points to the fact Saffronart has specialised in Indian art for nearly two decades. “Our auctions have shown that there continues to be a strong global interest in works by modern Indian masters such as VS Gaitonde, FN Souza, SH Raza and Ram Kumar, which were created during a transformational period in Indian art history, marking the leading edge in this movement.”
A highlight of the evening sale is Tradesman, a 1986 oil-on-canvas by Bhupen Khakhar. It is estimated at Rs 3.25-4.25 crores. Vazirani says, “The painting is being auctioned for the first time. In Tradesman, Khakhar brings back his preferred subject of the middle-class individual from the 1970s and 1980s. He portrayed the subject through a complex, satirical, yet compassionate artistic vocabulary. These ‘trade paintings’ were an inventory of sorts, a kind of documentation of various trades seen through Khakhar’s unique language.”
At: The Oberoi, New Delhi
On: September 12