Our upcoming exhibition, Living and Inspired Traditions, features works by contemporary artists that draw from the various schools of Rajput and Mughal miniature painting, and portray iconic themes and subjects including the Ragamalas, Baramasa, Gita Govinda, royal portraiture, mythology and more.
The history of collecting classical Indian art in modern India is full of remarkable personalities. Karl Khandalavala, chairman of the Prince of Wales Museum (now the CSMVS Museum) from 1958-1995, was one of the most influential scholars in the field. He advised several early collectors, including Colonel R K Tandan and Khorshed Kharanjavala. In 2015, Saffronart auctioned a selection of miniatures and sculptures from their collections. The auction’s success, and the record prices it achieved point to a growing interest in acquiring quality works that represent a centuries-old tradition. In its upcoming sale, Saffronart presents yet another exemplary selection of miniature paintings from the collection of Motichand Khajanchi.
Motichand Khajanchi collected some of the finest miniatures in Rajasthan.
Motichand Khajanchi was born into a family of jewellers, whose patrons included the royal family of Bikaner. Following his father into the family business, Khajanchi travelled across the country and encountered diverse artistic traditions. He began collecting his first miniature paintings aged 15. The paintings he sought out, often buying them at locally held auctions, were also among the finest he collected. He spent heavily on them, often landing in trouble with his father in his early years, but also earned the friendship of artists and scholars who influenced him.
As Khajanchi’s collection grew, he was recognised as an authority on Rajasthani miniatures. He pored over old handwritten manuscripts that deepened his understanding of the literary and religious references in the paintings. When Rai Krishnadasa, a renowned art historian and the founder of Bharat Kala Bhawan in Varanasi visited Khajanchi, he was impressed with the quality of his collection. Krishnadasa suggested that Khajanchi lend some of his works to be displayed in a museum to benefit and educate the public. A selection of important works from Khajanchi’s collection, curated by Krishnadasa and Karl Khandalavala, was exhibited at the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta in 1960, and published in the accompanying catalogue. Some remain in the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi.
Saffronart’s upcoming Classical Indian Art Auction features some of the most exquisite Rajasthani miniatures from Khajanchi’s collection. They include paintings from Bikaner, Mewar, Jaipur, Bundi, Kishangarh and Jodhpur.
Some of the paintings carry artist signatures on the reverse, and a few are from the personal collection of the Royal Family of Bikaner, making them all the more covetable.
Saffronart’s live auction of Classical Indian Art is on 9 March 2017 at the Saffronart gallery in Mumbai. It is preceded by viewings from 3 – 9 March 2017.
Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note on Raqib Shaw’s current exhibition at Pace Gallery.
New York: Raqib Shaw once again makes his mark in the New York public art scene. With his last show in 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this year Pace Gallery holds a three-venue exhibition of the artist.
The exhibition titled ‘Paradise Lost’ is based on the theme of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. His works are a blend of Indian mythological figures, half man half beast, warring through renaissance inspired landscapes. They are an interesting juxtaposition between Indian miniatures and classical Western architecture. This series of work portrays the triumph of the East over the West –illustrated through the shattered monuments depicted in the works.
His artistic oeuvre is unique and distinctive. Sir Norman Rosenthal says that “Shaw creates truly modern transformations of lost worlds of culture that arise from the exotic gardens of Kashmir to the memories that lie ‘imprisoned’ in the great museums of the Western World.”
London: Geneva’s Gowen Contemporary announced the first solo exhibition in Switzerland of the Pakistani miniaturist Waseem Ahmed. In 2010, his work had already been exhibited at Gowen Contemporary in a group show entitled Have I Ever Opposed You? New Art from India and Pakistan.
Ahmed contemporizes the traditional miniature style of painting by addressing relevant ongoing issues. His previous works saw reinterpretations of traditional myths and legends, but in this series he tackles the subject of the female presence in a patriarchal authoritarian system. His use of delicate brush strokes and fine detailing, contrasts against the graphic designing of his work.
In the work above, the painting is stratified into three parts. The background staying true to the miniature style is rendered in delicate brushstrokes- foliage against an orange evening sky. The middle ground shows a sea of burka-clad women- an identity-less mass of blue. In the foreground that dominates more than half the painting, a silver wall stands, on which are embossed guns that on first sight might not be visible. The work alludes to the atrocities against women behind the seemingly secure walls of home.