5 Record Breaking Masterpieces of Indian Art

In the run-up to our leading annual auction in New Delhi, we look at five works of art that have touched new heights with their record prices at Saffronart auctions, and changed the market for Indian art.

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Two of a Kind: F N Souza and Lancelot Ribeiro

F N Souza, the “enfant terrible” of modern Indian art, hardly needs an introduction. His less known half-brother, Lancelot Ribeiro, might. As two paintings from important phases in their artistic careers go on auction in June, we look at intersections in their life and art.

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A Brief History of Indian Art

We’ve put together a very, very concise guide on Modern and Contemporary Indian Art for our StoryLTD customers

If you’ve visited our sister site, StoryLTD by Saffronart, and spent hours (or minutes, for the impatient) sifting through our pages, this might come as some handy information for you. We’ve introduced succinct essays on most of our categories, going by genre and medium, to guide you on what each category has to offer. If you find yourself fancying some of the folk and tribal art paintings, or any of the landscapes for sale, browse through our collection and scroll to the bottom to learn more about them.

Here, we’ve summed up the Modern and Contemporary art movements, talking about the circumstances that shaped each generation’s approach to art.

An Overview of Modern Indian Art

We cover a broad spectrum of prints of Modern Indian paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Sakti Burman, S. H. Raza, M. F. Husain, and other artists active in the early-to-mid 20th century.

During the early and mid 1900s, the dilemma for many artists centred around interrogating Western influences on artistic expression, establishing a distinct identity and idiom for Indian art, and engaging with the role and function of the artist in a country like India. The British encouraged a Western approach to art; a realistic, trompe l’oeil work was more valued than the practices previously favoured. As a knee-jerk reaction, different schools of thought, such as the Bengal School, cropped up to check colonialism and Western ideals.

Following India’s independence, artists addressed themes ranging from the everyday and trivial to the social and political, from the late forties through succeeding decades. Sculptors also experimented with different materials and techniques to lend a more personal and reflective quality to their work. By the 1970s, a number of social and political events unfolding across the country left an impression on artists. The role of the artist in a developing country and the need for social responsiveness were interrogated by these practitioners. This decade also saw many more women artists come forward on the artistic scene, the majority of them delineating a point of view that combined the feminist and the subjective.

Contemporary Paintings

Indian Contemporary art has come to include art made from the mid-80s onwards. Our section on StoryLTD features original paintings by contemporary artists for sale.

The modernism of the preceding decades set the tone of Indian artistic practice in the late eighties and nineties. The new generation had long moved on from the concerns that plagued artists in the earlier half of the century. During the 1990s, a pluralist and fragmentative mood dominated the creation of contemporary art. Artists had to respond to a plethora of stimuli, trying to address a new age of information, and the emergence and novel concerns of the ‘global Indian’. The Indian art market has ever since opened up abroad. Art galleries within the country have increased in number, and the Indian artist is now faced with the challenge of speaking to a more diffuse audience.

Today, the work of artists from the Indian diaspora, the blurring of design and art, and the videos, installations and digital spaces of an even younger generation of artists have all added new dimensions to Indian contemporary art, a vague and undefined concept ever-receptive to growth and change.

To buy Indian paintings and prints online, visit www.storyltd.com

Heritage Reinvented: Inaugural exhibition

Ambika Rajgopal of Saffronart announces the inaugural exhibition- Heritage Reinvented at Tryon St. Gallery, London.

London: Five artists from different parts of the world unite to present Heritage Reinvented at the Tryon St. Gallery in London. In this exhibition, while drawing from their own individual socio-cultural peculiarity, they contest, challenge and transform the imagery and concepts normally associated with their own culture.

The Dark Cloud series, 2013, Kazim Ali. Image Credit:  © Tryon Street Gallery and Ali Kazim

The Dark Cloud series, 2013, Kazim Ali. Image Credit: © Tryon St. Gallery and Ali Kazim

The five artists are the Pakistani Ali Kazim, the New Zealander Brett Graham, the English Tom Hunter, the Ecuadorian Oscar Santillan and the Korean Meekyoung Shin. Though their standpoints are varied, their desire to amalgamate their socio-cultural past in order to speak to the present remains a constant in all their works. The artists attempt to create a new personal vocabulary through which they examine and revisit their heritage and often their own identity.

Ali Kazim originally trained as a miniature painter, but started his career as a circus-hoarding painter in the small town of Pattoki, Pakistan. His paintings, principally of lone masculine figures, have a multilayered tactility on account of many layers of watercolour pigments on textured paper, which imparts his work with a low relief quality.

Untitled (self portrait) series, 2013, Ali Kazim. Image Credit:  © Tryon St. Gallery and Ali Kazim

Untitled (self portrait) series, 2013, Ali Kazim. Image Credit: © Tryon St. Gallery and Ali Kazim

On display is a new series of work, where Kazim uses the framework of the South Asian visual culture, but he relativizes it. He is influenced by the miniature style techniques, which in the Mughal period were used to symbolize official rank, wealth and status. However, he strips away the colorful splendor of the miniatures to reveal a quiet monochromatic introspection, and thus transforms the long-standing miniature tradition of painting. Similarly Kazim draws from the Bengal school’s wash technique as can be seen in his self-portrait, where he uses over 20 washes of pigment to achieve the desired effect. His portrait is meditative, melancholic and remains firmly rooted in its past, while examining the present.

In his previous works he used tracing paper in order to subdue the colours further, thus giving his portraits more psychological significance. Regarding this, Kazim clarifies, “I feel that the thematic concerns of the work are strengthened greatly through a careful selection and use of materials. They help me explore the human body in a more expressive way.”

Te Hokioi, 2008, Brett Graham. Image Credit: © Tryon St. Gallery and Brett Graham

Te Hokioi, 2008, Brett Graham. Image Credit: © Tryon St. Gallery and Brett Graham

In a similar manner, the other artists confront the stereotypes normally associated with their culture. Brett Graham is of European and Maori descent and his work depicts the amalgamation between Western modernism and indigenous spirituality. He shows the dichotomy of his dual heritage by juxtaposing modern instruments of warfare with traditional Maori designs. These colonial power symbols were considered to be spiritual symbols by the indigenous Maori. Graham’s work explores the effects of European colonialism on the indigenous Oceanic population.

After the Dragon, 2000. Tom Hunter. Image Credit:  © Tryon Street Gallery and Tom Hunter

After the Dragon, 2000. Tom Hunter. Image Credit: © Tryon St. Gallery and Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter’s photographs reposition the composition and symbolism of European and American masterworks. In his work After the Dragon, Hunter draws stylistically and symbolically from Pre Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones’s painting Pan and Psyche (1872-1874). Part of his Life and Death in Hackney series, Hunter contemporizes Psyche and Pan, making them subcultural inhabitants set in the landscape of post-industrial urban decay. By plugging the legacy of the past into the context of the present, his work creates a dialogic exchange between the two binaries.

The show is on view from 3rd October to the 22nd November 2013.

http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=7535

Untitled, 2005, Ali Kazim. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=7535

Saffronart has previously auctioned Ali Kazim’s work in the November 2012 Art of Pakistan Auction.

For more information about the exhibition, please click here.

Picasso Black and White at the Guggenheim closed last week

Guest blogger, Saranna Biel-Cohen shares a snippet on the recently concluded Picasso show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York

New York: Picasso Black and White at the Guggenheim Museum in New York closed last week. The show highlighted works from the artist’s prolific career in which he explored the use of black, white and grey tones during every phase of his oeuvre. The exhibition included paintings, sculptures and works on paper in which he consciously employs a monochromatic palette to enhance the formal structure of his compositions. He recalls the tonal tradition of Spanish masters such as Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Goya, while commenting on every day life, his lovers, the political and social upheavals that rocked Europe during his lifetime, and paintings by classical masters. The show was a refreshing look at his body of work and allowed viewers to understand the liberty Picasso felt using black and white. Although the exhibition is now over, the museum website still hosts a series of audio tours related to the show. These are mainly notes on specific works delivered by three commentators, the artist’s daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso, Carmen Giménez, Stephen and Nan Swid Curator of Twentieth-Century Art, Guggenheim Museum, and curator of Picasso Black and White and Pierre Daix, an art historian and close friend of the artist.

Enjoy some images from this exhibition here:

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Guest contributor Saranna Biel-Cohen lives and works in London. She holds a Master’s Degree in History of Art from University College London with a focus on Modern Indian Art.

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