A look at Indian artists and their collective riches

A look at Indian artists and their collective riches
MIRROR IMAGE: Jehangir Sabavala’s self portrait on canvas
once again, India’s abstract modernist V S Gaitonde has hit the headlines. This time, it is his ‘Painting No 3’, which is scheduled to be part of Sotheby’s auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art on March 19, in New York. The artwork is reported to have been ‘sourced from an American collection and is estimated to bring in more than $2 million. Art lovers may recollect that at Christie’s first-ever art auction in India, Gaitonde’s mustard-hued abstract oil on canvas was sold at Rs 20.5 crore, a sum which was more than double its pre-sale estimate. The bid drew cheers and ‘audible gasps’ from the audience, for the work of this artist who is slated to become the first modern Indian painter to be ‘honoured with a retrospective in the US’, when his exhibition opens at the Guggenheim Museum, New York in October. ‘Painting No 3’ was created at a period in time when the artist had moved away from his pattern of ‘geometric works and begun to experiment with a paint roller and palette knife’.

The art event of the year is now all set to make the capital the hub for art lovers from across the globe. The organisers are busy with the final touches to the 6th avatar of the India Art Fair (IAF), which will be open to the public from January 30. There are 44 art galleries from India participating in the IAF and as a sample of the trends that we can expect at the fair, we offer you a sneak peak of the work of a rather special artist, Pierre Legrand from Pondicherry, whose works are being presented by Delhi’s art gallery, Art Motif. A number of striking abstract paintings in mixed media by this French artist can be seen at this solo presentation. His rendition of the emotion that rain brings may be seen in ‘Light Rain’, a colourful interpretation of the joy brought by the first sparkling drops of rain.

The IAF also offers a splendid opportunity for galleries located in the NCR to host exhibitions, as art lovers who from all over the world, are expected to spend quality time in doing the gallery rounds. Gallery Alternatives located in Gurgaon is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a splendid show titled ‘Collective Intent’, till February 15. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, graphics and sculptures of list of India’s most popular artists, FN Souza, Jehangir Sabavala, SH Raza, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, A Ramachandran, K Laxma Gaud, Sohan Qadri, Sakti Burman, Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman, Seema Kohli and Rahul Kumar.

Among the works that are on show, there are a number of works that deserve to be seen. Among the works on show are two self portraits, one is a unique self portrait on canvas by Jehangir Sabavala, who passed away fairly recently and Laxma Gaud’s self portrait in bronze. Raza’s new ‘Bindu’ series no longer in bright colours, but is equally attractive in greys and blues.

About the show one can also add that the variety of work on show is worth seeing since it brings together a good mix of veterans and younger artists. The gallery’s effort is to show that “art is the product of many different things filtering through our personality and experiences, that settle on a canvas in a complex layer of technique, image and meaning.” We might say that ‘Collective Intent’ lives up to its aim of bringing “the depth and breadth of talented Indian artists and their collective riches … through a great diversity of styles in Indian art.”

(The writer is an author and a former art gallery owner)

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