India, a new hub for showcasing contemporary South Asian art

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (UNI) Artist M F Husain's Mahabharatha-based painting, "Battle of Ganga and Jamuna" will be one of the significant works to come up at Christie's auction of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art in New York on March 20.

A special preview of highlights of this auction was held here yesterday featuring exquisite works from leading 20th and 21st century artists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and others.

Husain had painted the "Battle..." in 1972. Valued at an estimated 600,000-800,000 dollars, it is a part of a series of 27 works he undertook for the 11th Sao Paolo Biennial.

"We are deeply committed to India and have provided a huge platform for its people," said Dr Hugo K Weihe, Senior vice-president, International Director Asian Art.

Apart from Husain, the auction will include works from modern masters Francis Newton Souza, Tyeb Mehta, Vasudeo S Gaitonde, Syed Haider Raza and Ram Kumar. Leading contemporary artists Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher, and Jitish Kallat will also be featured among others.

The sale will focus on prime examples of different movements and styles and comprising more than 125 lots. It is expected to realise in excess of nine million dollars.

Another highlight will be an untitled painting made in 1981 by Mehta, the master of Indian Modernism, that portrays two intermingled female figures, demonstrating his formal and psychological considerations. The work is valued at an estimated 600,000-800,000 dollars.

Capturing strong feelings of disillusionment, a rare figurative work by Ram Kumar, "Vagabond", created in 1956, portraying three forlorn figures on a gloomy pallet, will also be on view. It has been valued at about 600,000 dollars.

Featuring among the contemporary highlights in the auction will be TV Santhosh's Traces of an Ancient Error, 2007, valued at about 200,000 dollars. He has been one of the rising stars of the contemporary Indian art scene with several exhibitions to his credit.

Contemporary Pakistani art, which has been witnessing a growing market, will include three paintings by Anwar Jalal Shemza, namely Anarkali, 1979; Royal Family, 1977, and an untitled work of 1959, each valued 600,000-800,000 dollars.

Another untitled painting of a nude by the founder of the Progressive Artists Group, Francis Newton Souza, painted in 1961, valued at 350,000-500,000 is also up for auction. Souza attained international acclaim after being conferred with the Guggenheim International Award.

Bhupen Khakhar, in his untitled work in 2002 , valued at 1,50,000 dollars, has employed complex spatial arrangement and bold use of colour.

Christie's art business with global auction sales in 2007 totalled 6.3 billion dollars, marking the highest in company and in art auction history.

UNI GL NK DS1635

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