Our upcoming Evening Sale on 12 September 2019 in New Delhi features unique and dynamic sculptures by leading Indian modernists K G Subramanyan, Sankho Chaudhuri, B Prabha, Himmat Shah, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Prodosh Das Gupta, Ramkinkar Baij, Jyoti Bhatt and Pilloo Pochkhanawala.
Many of these sculptures feature materials, subjects and styles that were unusual in the oeuvres of these artists. Our team explores highlight works.
This bronze sculpture depicting Gandhi in mid-stride, walking resolutely during the historic Dandi March, is an example of Ramkinkar Baij’s fluid amalgamation of diverse styles in sculpting. Cast circa 1970s, it was originally conceived and executed in 1948 as a series of small but significant sculptures made in cement and plaster of paris, in the immediate aftermath of Gandhi’s assassination. Sculpted in two versions, which portray Gandhi in unconventional forms, the works in this series are considered one of the most powerful representations of the national leader. A third version, a large-scale installation situated at the Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, was executed in the mid-1960s.
Crafted in pyramid form, this bronze sculpture by Jyoti Bhatt is an unusual work for the artist, and one of the largest bronze sculptures in his oeuvre. In the 1960s, Bhatt – who is widely known and recognised for his print-making and photography – embarked on a photographic project documenting the life and culture of remote rural and tribal communities in India. Through this journey, he encountered diverse traditional art forms such as wall paintings, murals and ritualistic designs and diagrams, which served as inspiration for his own art. By translating these motifs and imagery on to his sculptural forms, Bhatt gives them a uniquely, and literally, new dimension and perspective. He employs low-relief moulding with intricate embellishments and detailing to highlight the interplay of solid shapes and plain surfaces, while drawing references to Bankura terracotta and similar pottery traditions. In this work, the three faces of the sculpture depict divine figures conjoined at the apex.
Himmat Shah was born in 1933 in Lothal, Gujarat – an excavation site of the Indus Valley civilisation, with one of the highest yields of sculptural artefacts. The artist explored the caves and desert landscapes of the region throughout his childhood, and these early experiences had a deep impact on his work. Shah immersed himself in many mediums before focussing on sculptures, and is best known for his enigmatic sculptures of heads. These are often pared down to near-blankness, etched with occasional lines and hatches. Through these faceless forms, Shah explores concepts such as existence, anonymity and memory.
A diverse artist who explored many artistic styles and mediums throughout his career, K G Subramanyan also devoted time annually to a toy-making project, usually coinciding with the Baroda Fine Arts Fair, which encouraged the use of Indian craft techniques. Subramanyan, who was curious about these traditions, designed an entire menagerie of wooden toys over the years, usually shaped like animals from a mock fable. The process evolved from initial drawings, tested in plasticine or clay, followed by a prototype made of wood, which would be planed, joined, layered and adorned with materials such as leather, string, mirrors and beads.
One of India’s foremost women sculptors, Pilloo Pochkhanawala carved her own niche at a time when art was dominated by painting. Born in Mumbai in 1923, she was a self-taught artist, and was inspired to become a sculptor after a trip to Europe for a commercial assignment in 1951 that left her awed by the medium. In the 1960s, Pochkhanawala was one of the few artists from then Bombay closely working along the Baroda school of sculptors, and she held her first show at Gallery Chemould, followed by many others. Perhaps due to the lack of a formal art education, Pochkhanawala’s work was dynamic and experimental, ranging from smaller sculptures to theatre sets and monumental public art. Her public artworks were installed at places such as the Haji Ali traffic circle and the Nehru Centre in Mumbai. Alongside the artist community, she also played an instrumental role in founding the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai.
Saffronart’s Evening Sale will be held at The Oberoi, New Delhi on 12 September 2019. The auction is preceded by viewings at the Saffronart gallery in The Oberoi, New Delhi through 12 September.
Cover image: Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Untitled (detail), painted wood. Estimate: Rs 8 – 10 lakhs.