Reclining Figure with Bull's Head is a reputed work by artist Tyeb Mehta
Reclining Figure with Bull's Head is a reputed work by artist Tyeb Mehta

Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction features rare, unseen works by modernists VS Gaitonde and FN Souza

Saffronart will conduct its annual auction, featuring 120 works by prominent modern and contemporary artists, on June 12th and 13th

Saffronart has announced the dates of its highly anticipated 24-hour online auction, which includes works from important Indian and foreign collections. The highlights of this event include exquisite, hitherto-unseen pieces by India’s premiere modernists, VS Gaitonde and FN Souza.

The auction shines a spotlight on Gaitonde, exhibiting four works from pivotal periods in his artistic career. Leading the sale is an Untitled painting from 1958 (lot 50), a vibrant red creation with fragmented planes. Painted when the artist first began veering into a ‘non-objective’ mode of painting, this work is poised at the beginning of Gaitonde’s journey into pure abstraction that made him the highly coveted artist he is amongst collectors today. Estimated at Rs.4 to 6 crore (USD 579,715 ‒ 869,570), this previously unseen work was acquired directly from the artist by Urmila and the late Gunvant Mangaldas, who were amongst the earliest collectors of modern Indian art.

This untitled work by VS Gaitonde marks the beginning of his journey into pure abstraction

Another Untitled oil on canvas work by Gaitonde (lot 51), painted over a decade later in 1970, also features in this sale. Estimated at Rs.12.42-– 16.56 crore (USD 1.8 ‒ 2.4 million), this lot is painted in an earthy colour palette with the artist’s trademark calligraphic forms floating on the canvas, providing an ethereal quality to the work.

FN Souza’s Untitled (Hampstead) from 1964 is a rare work that has never been seen before in public, and was likely gifted by the artist to Reeves, an artists’ paint company in London, in exchange for using their paint products. Valued at approximately Rs.1.72 ‒ 2.41 crore (USD 250,000 ‒ 350,000), this restless landscape (lot 29) belongs to a highly lucrative period in Souza’s career, embodying the apocalyptic vision that dominated his paintings in post-war London in the 1960s. The work remained in Reeves’ collection until they were acquired by Colart, an international art supplies company.

Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and co-founder of Saffronart, said, “The highlights of our Summer Online Auction this year are rare, unseen works by VS Gaitonde and FN Souza, two of India’s leading modernists. These paintings represent significant milestones in the artists’ distinctive careers and belong to noteworthy collections, presenting a great opportunity for anyone looking to own a masterpiece. The auction also features significant Indian contemporary artists, as well as artists from South Asia, and comes at an important time that coincides with the second dedicated Indian pavilion at the Venice Biennale.”

Other highlights include a monumental work by Tyeb Mehta that represents the artist’s early explorationa with form, colour and texture. Estimated at Rs.4 to 6 crore (USD 579,715 ‒ 869,570), Reclining Figure with Bull’s Head, 1963 (lot 67), is an important precursor to Mehta’s seminal figurative works that he perfected in later years. The catalogue also includes two works from SH Raza’s Bindu series, a motif that became central to his paintings in later decades. Bindu, 1992 (lot 38) and Nad-Bindu, 2000 (lot 85) are estimated at Rs.1.1 ‒ 1.24 crore (USD 160,000 ‒ 180,000) and Rs.70 – 90 lakh (USD 101,450 ‒ 130,435) respectively.

The contemporary section includes works by prominent artists, including Atul Dodiya and Jitish Kallat, who are part of the India Pavilion at the ongoing 58th Venice Biennale. The auction also features a selection of sculptures by Satish Gujral, Himmat Shah, B. Vithal and B. Prabha as well as a thought-provoking installation, Arabian Delight, 2008, (lot 102) estimated at Rs.8.28 – 10.35 lakh (USD 12,000 – 15,000), by Pakistani-born artist Huma Mulji. Other South Asian artists featured in the auction include Imran Qureshi and Sri Lankan artists George Keyt and Senaka Senanayake.

The online auction will take place on saffronart.com and is preceded by viewings of select lots in Mumbai, New Delhi, New York and London.

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