South Asian art goes under hammer at ARTIANA’s online auction event

MF Husain’s work Horses, in acrylic on canvas.

Muhammad Yusuf, FeaturesWriter

ARTIANA, UAE’s first homegrown auction house for art and luxury collectibles, is currently presenting 40 artworks from leading modern and contemporary artists from South Asia in an online auction (June 27 – 30).

The event features many new-to-market works by Modernist masters in various media such as oils, acrylics, paper works and sculptures, in a broad and inclusive selection. Leading the occasion is Francis Newton Souza (1924 – 2002), referred to as the “Enfant Terrible of Modern Indian Art”, for his visionary yet unconventional takes.


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He was one of the first Indian painters to achieve international recognition from a newly-independent India, and was leading figure in its then-budding avant-garde movement.

As the founding member of the Progressive Artists Group, he was one of the persons from whom the Indian Modern Art movement expanded and was catapulted to the West and eventually to the world stage.

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Francis Newton Souza’s work Landscape, in oil on canvas.

Throughout his illustrious career, Souza maintained a strong vision in his works, veering away from the traditional school of art of Shantiniketan and the realism of the British school of painting.

Aiming to make his mark, he capitalized on his strength as a draftsman, honing his highly distinctive style which spanned the entire gamut of subjects from still-life to strongly drawn heads and landscapes.

Made in 1961, the cover lot — “Untitled (Landscape)” — is part of the culmination of both technique and subject in Souza’s prime decade.

His distinctive style of thick outlines and frenzied composition with layered impasto created from the use of a palette knife, is his hallmark, at the height of his creativity. One of the best-selling Indian artists at auction, his works made between 1955 and 1963 rarely come to the market and are therefore in high demand among collectors of Indian Modernism. The auction collection also includes a rare work by MF Husain (1915 – 2011) titled “Trinity of Mother Teresa,” painted in 1989.

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Lavesh Jagasia is the Founder of ARTIANA.

As an Indian icon, Mother Teresa appealed to Husain’s sensibilities as an artist, not only for her work with the poor but also for what the religious figure signified, the notion of a mother. The artist, whose own mother passed away during his childhood, associated the saint as a living personification of his mother and the very idea of ​​motherhood in general. Therefore, he transformed the dress of The Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa – a white, thick cotton sari with a broad blue border – into a metaphor for her.

To accentuate the abstract dimension of the robe, he removed the face from the portraits and incorporated images of emaciated children and dying men and women to emphasize the Mother’s boundless love for humankind. Also part of the auction catalog is a sculpture by famous contemporary artist G. Ravinder Reddy titled “Head – 06,” which is a monumental sculpture of a woman’s head that showcases a fusion between Western pop art sensibilities and Indian folk traditions.

In this iconic head, Reddy reappropriates both the sensual and the sacred, reflecting on the contention between traditionalism and modernity, using the female form. The sale also features lots from prominent artists Ram Kumar, Sayed Haider Raza and Jamil Naqsh, among many others, with masterworks comprising their signature subjects of abstracted landscapes, the Bindu, and pigeons, respectively.

The auction carries a No Buyer’s Premium policy in an essentially ‘What You Bid Is What You Pay’ format. FlexiPay, which allows buyers to ‘Bid Now Pay Later’, is available for eligible customers. ARTIANA, based in Dubai, is a click and mortar hybrid auction house, that provides a credible and engaging auction platform, without boundaries.

It delivers to a global audience the excitement of art auctions, through the convenient and accessible medium of timed online auctions.

The house is constantly focused on making markets and adding fresh collection categories to its platform. Several new benchmarks have been set, and record prices for artists achieved, in its auctions over the past years.

They have attracted thousands of first-time customers, besides inviting the participation of innumerable repeat buyers. In addition to auctions, ARTIANA also engages with clients through private sales. The capacity of this vertical includes hosting exhibitions — which allows ARTIANA to sell across a wide range of collection categories — even as it brings to them “auction passion” and decades of expertise and knowledge. Lavesh Jagasia, ARTIANA Founder, is an art connoisseur and luxury aficionado with more than three decades of experience in the field of Indian Art. He is a diploma holder from The Gemological Institute of America. An expert in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, he forayed into the world of art appreciation very early in life.

He would visit art exhibitions during his college days; this helped him later lay the foundations for building his own private art collection. Initially, his purpose was to acquire a few works to put up on a wall. But, as everybody involved in collecting art will agree, once bitten by the art bug, one is hooked (or bugged) for life! Prior to the launch of ARTIANA auction house, Jagasia advised clients on investment grade art through his firm, The Fine Art Advisory. He also is the Founder-Owner of the successful art publishing firm, The Serigraph Studio, which has collaborated since the late nineties with most of the leading South Asian artists.

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