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If you love art, missing Sotheby’s preview of 11 modern and contemporary artworks at the Taj Mahal Hotel this weekend will cost you dearly. It might even cost you millions of pounds. The works are rare, some have never been shown in India, and are headed for London, where they’ll be part of a huge auction of Modern & Contemporary South Asian paintings and sculptures in October. They’re expected to fetch anything from £40,000 (about Rs 35.5 lakh) to £1,400,000 (about Rs 12.4 crore).
The works include an early untitled abstract by VS Gaitonde from 1973, rare because it marks a shift from his previous horizontal canvases to the vertical format he favoured until the 1990s. There’s the very large, very impressive The Deposition: Burial of Christ — FN Souza’s 1963 masterpiece, a facsimile of which is at the preview.
“It’s truly gorgeous,” says Yamini Mehta, the international head of modern and contemporary south Asian art, of the Souza painting. “It shows the artist trying to say that he’s not just part of the Indian group of painters but is a global artist, by tackling a subject that old masters have. He’s using it to say, ‘I’ve arrived’, but in his own way.”
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The Souza has been sourced from a collection in the UK; the Gaitonde from a Czech collection. Other paintings include an untitled 1979 work by Jagdish Swaminathan from a collector in Brazil; Hajera, an MF Husain work from 1964; and Rice Fields, Palni Holls- II, a 2008 work by Jehangir Sabavala.
The exhibition will also display an untitled 1979 work by Jagdish Swaminathan, from a collector in Brazil.
There’s also a small untitled canvas by Ganesh Pyne from 1969, sourced from an estate in Switzerland.