London sees a new spring of Indian art

KOLKATA: Indian art has created a wave at the Sotheby's auction in London. The auction has scaled a total sale value of £4.290 million. This is well above the highest presale estimate of £3.4 million. F N Souza's oil on canvas, The Red Road, has swung the tallest price of £5,80,000 against an estimate of £2,50,000-3,50,000.

But, a name who was waiting to reach far higher price levels for a long time, has turned out to be a staggering performance. Rabindranath Tagore's Death Scene has gone for £1,44,500. Interestingly, 97 of the 123 lots on offer have been picked by collectors. This works out to a sale percentage of around 79% in terms of volume.

Together with Souza, a Subodh Gupta Untitled oil on canvas has fetched £2,64,500 and was bought by an anonymous buyer, while an Akbar Padamsee Untitled has gone £2,64,500. In step, another Padamsee has been picked up for £2,52,500, a Souza Untitled has been acquired for £2,28,500 and an M F Husain Untitled has been bought for £1,50,500. In the same breath, Souza's Still Life has been acquired for £1,44,500, Atul Dodiya's Each Father, Lost (VIII) £1,38,500 and S H Raza's La Source £1,08,500.

In an email to ET from London, head of Indian art at Sotheby's London Zara Porter-Hill said: "Indian art continues to prosper. It's a market on the move. We collated a carefully edited sale with superlative examples from across the board and we are thrilled with the response we have witnessed.

We saw strong and encouraging prices achieved throughout the sale, with both modern and contemporary works performing equally well. Bidding came from a very international audience, which included private collectors, institutions and the trade. The auction was a great success and we look forward to the international contemporary sale in New York later this month which features a select group of works by Indian contemporary artists."

According to her, the sale offered lots of "quality and provenance" which traced the course of Indian art over the last century and encompassed works by key figures of the Modern Indian Art movement such as F N Souza and Akbar Padamsee, through to the cutting-edge names of Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher and Jitish Kallat.

Incidentally, in tandem with Subodh Gupta's record price, Bharti Kher's Missing made £1,06,100 against a presale estimate of £30,000-40,000. At the same time, T V Santosh's A Handful of Ashes has sold for £1,02,500 over the presale estimate of £30,000-40,000, while a diptych by Thukral and Tagra titled Stop Think Go sold at £1,02,500 and Jitish Kallat's work from a series collectively Humiliation Tax realised £58,100. The veteran Amitabha Banerjee, who has rarely featured in an international auction, has gone for £4,500.

"The sale, which was extremely well-attended both during the presale exhibition and in the saleroom, saw spirited and competitive bidding throughout. 67% of the lots in the sale sold for prices in excess of their presale high estimate and an impressive 11 new auction records were established including Rabindranath Tagore and Jitish Kallat among others," Sotheby's assistant VP Kristin Gelder said.

Economic Times
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