Our upcoming Winter Online Auction on 9 – 10 December 2019 features 22 works of contemporary Indian art from the illustrious Saatchi Collection, which will be offered at No Reserve. These works were part of a groundbreaking exhibition of contemporary Indian art in Europe, titled The Empire Strikes Back, at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2010.
Conceptual artist L N Tallur employs a multitude of mediums, ranging from sculpture and interactive pieces to found objects and site-specific installations, in order to highlight the absurdities and anxieties of contemporary life. Works such as these – an installation composed of torn and battered mattresses stacked on a hospital bed, which was originally accompanied by the sound of breathing and movement like the inflating and deflating of lungs – are suggestive of bodies in the aftermath of a disaster.
Kriti Arora, Road Builders series, 2008
Lots 92, 93 and 94 are part of Kriti Arora’s Road Builders series, inspired by a trip to her ancestral home in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2004, when she came across a group of Bihari road builders. In these works, Arora sculpts the figures of these men, as well as their tools and equipment, in fibreglass, further encased in tar. By using the very material involved in their laborious job to highlight and reconstruct their plight, Arora seeks to cleverly and poignantly confront the state of their poverty and marginalisation in a literal fashion.
A versatile artist, Reena Saini Kallat explores memory, the cycle of life and nature as well as contemporary social conditions in her work, often through the use of metaphorical tropes and popular symbols that contrast with the seriousness of the issues portrayed. Works from a series titled Penumbra Passage (Canine Cases), created in 2006, comprise a gilt-framed portrait depicting civilians from India and Pakistan, superimposed with a brightly coloured map of the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Below each portrait, a velvet-lined glass case holds a range of weapons that resemble bones – both symbols of conflict. However, the artist arranges them like a set of dentures, as indicated in the title, and the presence of embellished life-affirming patterns on these objects suggest a more complex and nuanced engagement.
This work comprises a five-foot high fibreglass sculpture of a one rupee coin, coated in black lead. Behind this are placed five lenticular prints, each of which tells two stories. One headline from 2006 proclaims “Call anywhere in India with one rupee!” describing the One India Plan that aimed to make phone calls more affordable across the country. The co-existing, contrasting story reports an incident from 2005 where a young girl was refused a rupee to buy lunch, highlighting disparities in affordability and the extent of poverty that is often ignored when policies are implemented even today.
Saffronart’s Winter Online Auction will be held on 9 – 10 December 2019. The auction is preceded by viewings at the Saffronart gallery in Mumbai (30 November – 10 December) and in New York (5 – 10 December).
Cover image: Lot 92, Kriti Arora, Coat and Trousers, 2008 (detail), fibreglass, cloth and tar. Estimate: INR 2.1 – 2.8 lakhs ($3,000 – 4,000). This lot is offered at No Reserve.