South Asian art high on demand at global auctions

An oil painting by Syed Haider Raza, Village en Fete, surpassed price estimates fetching $1,859,750 at Christie’s Spring Asian Art Week last week that grossed $80,416,388 in the sale of South Asian and Oriental art.

The landscape by Syed Haider Raza, painted in 1964 in oil, is a recollection of the days he spent in California in 1962-1963.

After he returned to the South of France, he painted a village landscape inspired by his memories of the bright California sun. The history of the painting says it is one of the earliest of his large-format and also one of the most significant by Raza.

The chairman and international head of Asian art Jonathon Stone at Christie’s said the auction this year wanted to raise awareness about the quality and provenance of Asian art and its finesse with opulent previews and non-selling exhibitions throughout the week.
The South Asian collection on sale focussed on the masters, including contemporary pioneers like V S Gaitonde, M F Husain, F N Souza and Jagdish Swaminathan.

Besides the paintings, the sale saw spirited bidding for ancient Indian artefacts, Chinese and Japanese art. A large gilt bronze figure of Bodhisattva from Tibet dating back to the 9th century realised $2,811,750.

“People are more confident of buying works by contemporary and modern masters because their prices have not changed much in the last five years, but the prices of works by younger artists plummeted sharply because of the lack of demand for their works during the economic meltdown,” said Kolkata-based art and antiquity auctioneer Vikram Bachhawat.

“The interest in works by artists like M F Husain, S H Raza and F N Souza have pushed their prices past the million dollar mark,” said Bachhawat.

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