Tyeb fetches Rs 8.2 cr at Christie’s India auction

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It was an evening of paints and visions, nobility and grandeur where Christie’s managed to create a whirlpool of colours with a modest auction sale held at Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, on Thursday.

Tyeb Mehta and George Keyt or Syed Hyder Raza commanded respectable prices at the auction, even as the larger canvass of Indian economy faded into white dimness.

Tyeb Mehta’s painting depicting a falling figure was sold for Rs 8.2 crore. The painting was born out of a traumatic memory from his childhood when Mehta witnessed the violent death of a man during the Partition riots of 1947.

Art experts say ‘the free falling figure’ represents an impending loss of control and the inevitable fall of a man from grace in atonement for his fateful hubris. When the bidding for The Falling Figure stopped, the packed ‘Crystal’ room at Taj was reverberating with thunderous applause from enthusiastic art connoisseurs and the elite glitterati present in the event.

Nearly 6,000 people flocked to the exhibition.

Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s, said, “The current economic slowdown is just a ‘blip’ for the art market. We have seen an incredible rise in the number of Indian clients and collectors. Indian art is set to become much bigger in the next two to three years.”

For over a month now, Christie’s has been presenting the first-time-sale in India as a landmark event with a number of modernist paintings of maestros such as Abanindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Ganesh Pyne among others. Tyeb Mehta’s Mahisasur, another landmark work going under the hammer, carried a price estimate of Rs 7.5-9.5 crore.

“The Indian art scene is evolving like never before. We are happy with the mind-blowing responses we are getting. It will soon catch up with Europe and North America,” said Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie’s Europe.

Christie’s is not the first auction house to dabble in India’s art mart. In the early 1990s, Sotheby’s held a sale of Indian art in New Delhi, and sold works worth £1.2m.

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