Sotheby’s New York Indian and South East Asian Art Auction

. March 19, 2010

Sotheby’s sale of Indian and South East Asian Art in New York on 24 March 2010 features a well curated selection of Indian, Himalayan and South East Asian works of art. A strong selection of Indian miniatures as well as modern and contemporary paintings are also included in the 184 lot sale that is estimated to fetch $5/7.3 million; the auction will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s from this Friday, 19 March. Leading the modern paintings in the sale is an Untitled work by Manjit Bawa. The canvas is one of the largest paintings produced by the artist and the most important work by him ever to appear at auction (est. $200/300,000).

The artist does not have a particularly large oeuvre, which adds to the importance of the present painting. A seemingly weightless figure hovers above two galloping horses depicted with a simplicity of line and form that contrasts with the bold gradation of color.

Modern Paintings
MF Husain returns to one of the most important subjects in his work in an Untitled painting showing a woman riding a leaping horse (est. $80/120,000). The horse has remained an enduring theme in Husain’s works since the 1950s; the artist was fascinated by horses since his childhood which are a symbol of life force and energy in ancient Indian mythology.


MF Husain est. $80/120,000. Photo: Sotheby’s

An Untitled ‘Metascape’ work from Akbar Padamsee is a further highlight of the modern paintings in the sale (est. $80/120,000). These works place differing colors and textures next to each other to create compositions that hover between abstraction and representation. Whilst elements of the natural world are clearly discernible the painting is not rooted in any specific place or time.

A vivid composition by Jagdish Swaminathan depicting mountains, trees and birds is clearly reminiscent of Indian miniatures (Untitled, est. $100/150,000). The artist draws on the influences of an indigenous aesthetic which is coupled with vivid colors as part of his quest for the virginal state in art.

L’Inconnu painted in 1971 by Sayed Haider Raza (est. $120/180,000) marks a period of exploration in the artist’s career. The contrast between the raw, red vacuum at the top of the painting and the dense, layered colors below, signifies a search for identity in Raza’s life as he neared the age of fifty. The inscription on the painting, “let the path be unknown; let the heart remain in solitude” adds to the poignancy of the artist’s journey.

Buddhist Art from the Capelo Collection
Highlighting the Works of Art section of the sale is a group of 11 works from the Francisco Capelo Collection. Formed over the last two decades as part of a personal journey exploring Asia, the Capelo Collection includes not only the South and Southeast Asian, Tibetan and Nepalese objects of art in the upcoming Sotheby’s sale but an eclectic group of Tribal Art Chinese Ceramics through 20th century design and fashion.

In 1999 Mr. Capelo made a journey to Asia inspired by the centurieslong connection between Portugal and the continent. His collection was formed with the objective of educating Portuguese audiences with the ‘real’ Asia and was destined to be housed in a ‘Casa Asia’ museum in Lisbon. However, the works all with impeccable provenance from European and American collections, are now being offered at auction, providing a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire these treasures.

Among the highlights from the collection is a 14th century Gilt Copper Alloy Buddha from Tibet (est. $250/350,000, above). The sculpture depicts the moment when Shakyamuni, triumphs over the demon Mara who had been trying to distract him from his meditation. Mara attempted to question Shakyamuni’s entitlement to seek spiritual enlightenment to which he responded by reaching out and touching the ground, stating “The Earth is my witness,” an act that caused the demons to flee. This Buddha is particularly notable for its extraordinary richness of the gilding as well as for the superb modeling of the figure.

Category: Auction News

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