Communicating with our origins and heritage
Sep 22 2013
Christie’s has chosen this opportune moment to announce their first sale in India, on December 19, 2014. Scheduled to be held at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, art lovers can now look forward to more exciting times in India’s world of art.
Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale also brought into focus Syed Haider Raza, and proved that his work is fast becoming among the most coveted the world over. Raza’s depiction of a village in Italy, created from imagination, has just scored over others at Christie’s Fall sale which featured “95 exceptional works” by Indian modern masters including Tyeb Mehta, Francis Newton Souza, Akbar Padamsee, Maqbool Fida Husain and Vasudeo S Gaitonde. Works by renowned contemporary artists, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher and Jitish Kalat, who are usually seen in most international art auctions, were also part of the sale.
Raza’s depiction of an Italian village Village en Fête was painted in 1953 and has been mentioned in Christie’s press release prior to the sale as “the largest work from the period to come to auction”. The painting which is 40” x 48”(approximately) has been rendered in oils on board and was correctly estimated by Christie’s between $550,000 and $750,000. At the auction held on August 17, the painting saw some animated bidding and was sold for $723,750. The painting is also considered important because it “marked the pivotal moment when Raza would fully embrace the medium of oil painting and in doing so further his ambition in scale, technique and composition”. Described as “an austere geometric landscape”, the painting can certainly be recognised as a pointer to the influence that European art had on Raza during the 1950s.
Also part of the sale were other works by Raza which seem to reflect his yearning for his homeland, such as Jour de Liesse inspired by his personal collection of Indian miniatures and La Terre, which may be seen as a reflection of the lush green forests of Madhya Pradesh. These two paintings were estimated at $200,00-300,000 and $350,000-500,000 respectively. Physically dislocated from his homeland in this period, Raza’s landscapes “allowed Raza to reconnect and communicate with his own origins and heritage”.
(The writer is an author and a former art gallery owner)