Saffronart is coming up with an online auction that traces the development of Indian art through 121 works ranging from sculptures that were created over two thousand years ago till present day contemporary works. From Classical to Contemporary will be held on saffronart.com on 6-7 December 2017, with viewings in London, New Delhi and Mumbai.
The auction catalogue opens with two early terracotta figurines of mother goddesses from Uttar Pradesh (lots 1 and 2). Dated circa 100 BCE – 200 CE, these intricately modelled figurines point to the widespread practice of worshipping fertility goddesses at the time. Other highlights from the Classical art section include a circa 8th/9th century schist of Lakshmi Narayana from Rajasthan (lot 14), an exquisitely carved 10th/11th century phyllite sculpture from West Bengal showingVishnu with his retinue (lot 20, pictured right ), and a circa 10th century sculpture from Bihar depicting the eight miraculous events in the life of Buddha (lot 7). This section not only highlights the skilled process of creating sculptures out of stone, but offers insight into religious iconography and patronage.
Saffronart is offering an exemplary painting by British landscape artist William Daniell for the first time. Deer in a Wooded Landscape (lot 21) marks a transition from the Classical art section, and is a stunning example of the academic realist painting tradition which prevailed in England at the time. Daniell’s idyllic forest scene was most likely painted between 1827 and 1830, after his return to England from India, when he began focussing on the scenery around Windsor and Eton. Daniell’s art influenced and served as a model for Indian artists in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Academic realism was gradually replaced in the 20th century by a new pictorial language. One need only look at landscapes by modernists Akbar Padamsee (lots 34 and 35), S H Raza (lot 36), Ram Kumar (lot 58) and F N Souza (lot 48), to see how each artist found his own unique interpretation of a traditionally romantic subject. Padamsee’s landscapes focus on the relationship between architecture and space. Raza’s Untitled (Colline) captures the essence of a hilly terrain through a composition which is abstract, but has clear indications of the landscape it represents. Ram Kumar’s landscape, which could be situated either in Benaras or Ladakh, is composed of colour planes which meander and slope, creating movement. In contrast, Souza’s Houses with Tree, sketched during his early years in London, conveys an ominous mood through the artist’s signature cross‒hatching technique. Also on offer in the modern art section are paintings by M F Husain (lots 37 and 38), Manjit Bawa (lot 49) and Arpita Singh (lot 54).
Highlights in the contemporary section include Nataraj Sharma (lot 113), Jagannath Panda (lot 121), Anju Dodiya (lot 117), Dhananjay Singh (lot 108), andSenaka Senanayake (lot 111) who will be featured in a solo exhibition at Saffronart, New Delhi, from 12-24 January 2018. Their work often more personal, and addresses present day concerns through materials ranging from watercolour and oil, to stainless steel and bronze. Senanayake’s art draws attention to Sri Lanka’s rapidly vanishing rainforests through a colourful and vibrant palette. Panda’s art is concerned with migration, alienation and displacement, and the painting on offer is a poignant comment on the consequences of urbanisation on changing social mores. Hugo Weihe, CEO of Saffronart said, “This sale endeavours to showcase and cross-reference artistic expressions from antiquity to the present day, to connect dots in new ways. By viewing older pieces from a contemporary perspective, we discover their timeless relevance. This sale offers the wonderful possibility of acquiring works that extend the depth of understanding of modern and contemporary art, and classical art that has been historically undervalued.”