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

The work Horses by MF Husain, acrylic on canvas.

Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer

ARTIANA, the UAE’s premier luxury art and collectibles auction house, is currently showcasing 40 works of art by leading modern and contemporary artists from South Asia at a online auction (June 27-30).

The event showcases 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. At the head of the event, Francis Newton Souza (1924 – 2002), nicknamed “the Terrible Child of modern Indian art”, for his visionary but unconventional shots.


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

As a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group, he was one of the people from whom the modern Indian art movement grew and was catapulted to the West and eventually onto the world stage.

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Landscape from the work of Francis Newton Souza, oil on canvas.

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

Aiming to leave his mark, he capitalized on his strength as a draftsman, honing his highly distinctive style which covered the full range of subject matter from still lifes to heavily drawn heads and landscapes.

Made in 1961, the cover set – “Untitled (Landscape)” – is part of the culmination of both technique and subject matter from Souza’s first decade.

His distinctive style of thick outlines and frenetic composition with layered impasto created using a palette knife, is his trademark, at the height of his creativity. One of India’s best-selling artists at auction, his works produced between 1955 and 1963 rarely come to market and are therefore in high demand by collectors of Indian modernism. The auction collection also includes a rare work by MF Husain (1915 – 2011) entitled “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 sensibility as an artist, not only for her work with the poor, but also for what the religious figure, the notion of mother meant. The artist, whose own mother died during her childhood, associates the saint as a living personification of her mother and the very idea of ​​motherhood in general. Therefore, he turned the dress of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa – a thick, white cotton sari with a wide blue border – into a metaphor for her.

To accentuate the abstract dimension of the dress, he removed the face from the portraits and incorporated images of emaciated children and dying men and women to emphasize the Mother’s infinite love for humanity. The auction catalog also includes a sculpture by renowned contemporary artist G. Ravinder Reddy entitled “Head – 06”, which is a monumental sculpture of a woman’s head that features a fusion between Western pop art sensibilities and the Indian folk traditions.

In this iconic head, Reddy reclaims both the sensual and the sacred, reflecting on the struggle between traditionalism and modernity, using the female form. The sale also includes lots from eminent artists Ram Kumar, Sayed Haider Raza and Jamil Naqsh, among many others, with masterpieces including their iconic abstract landscape subjects, the Bindu and the pigeons, respectively.

The auction features a buyerless premium policy in an essentially “What you bid is what you pay” format. FlexiPay, which allows buyers to bid now and pay later, is available to eligible customers. ARTIANA, based in Dubai, is a hybrid click and mortar auction house, which provides a credible and attractive auction platform without borders.

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

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

They have attracted thousands of new customers, in addition to inviting the participation of countless repeat buyers. In addition to auctions, ARTIANA also engages with its customers through private sales. This vertical’s capability includes hosting exhibitions – which allows ARTIANA to sell across a wide range of collectible categories – even as it brings them a “passion for auctioning” and decades of expertise and knowledge. Lavesh Jagasia, Founder of ARTIANA, is an art connoisseur and luxury enthusiast with over three decades of experience in Indian art. He holds a degree from the Gemological Institute of America. An expert in modern and contemporary South Asian art, he made an early foray into the world of art appreciation.

He visited art exhibitions during his college years; this later helped him lay the foundation for building his own private art collection. Initially, his goal was to acquire a few works to hang on the wall. But, as anyone involved in art collecting will agree, once bitten by the art bug, you’re addicted (or annoyed) for life! Prior to the launch of the ARTIANA auction house, Jagasia advised clients on investment art through his company, The Fine Art Advisory. He is also the founder-owner of the successful art publishing company, The Serigraph Studio, which has collaborated since the late 90s with most of the major South Asian artists.

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