Asian Art Week Love FestBy Lavina Melwani • Sep 8th, 2010 • Category: Art
Contemporary Indian Art at Asian Art Week
Sometimes you buy a piece of contemporary Indian art and get a love story too in the bargain! Cinq Sens (Five Senses) by M. F. Husain is a powerful work originally gifted by the artist many, many years ago to film director Roberto Rossellini and his Bengali wife, Sonali Dasgupta. It was a love match he helped bring about, for at that time Rossellini was married to the noted actress Ingrid Bergman and Sonali was the wife of a documentary film-maker in Calcutta. The painting is estimated at $500,-700,000 and is being auctioned by Sotheby’s, and here’s the story behind it. Update – the artwork sold for $782,500
M.F. Husain’s Cinq Sens
MF Husain, who celebrates his 95th birthday the day after the auction, was great friends with Italian film director Roberto Rossellini and his wife Sonali Dasgupta. He was a frequent guest at their Italian home and it was during one of these visits in 1958 that he painted Cinq Sens (Five Senses) which he then gave to the couple from whom it was acquired by the current owner.
Rossellini fell in love with his future wife whilst making a documentary in India on the request of Nehru in 1956. At the time Dasgupta was married to a documentary filmmaker, whilst Rossellini was married to Ingrid Bergman. Husain played an important role in getting the two together by surreptitiously traveling with Dasgupta to Delhi to meet up with Rossellini. Soon after this meeting the couple would leave India to get married in Rome.
The horse and the nude are both common in Husain paintings, however a male nude is rare in his art. The dancing figures in the background are reminiscent of frieze work found in some Indian temples, while the horse and man have similarities to Picasso’s Boy Leading a Horse in the MOMA collection. The painting can therefore be considered to be bringing together both India and the west – echoing the cultural exchange between Husain and Rossellini.
Quite a story!
Of course not every painting has a dramatic romance behind it, but during Asian Art Week 2010 viewers and browsers will get a chance to connect with art and create their own love stories. Sotheby’s, Christies and the online auction house Saffronart are all offering works by the noted contemporary Indian art artists.
Sotheby’s is offering 112 works of art from 18th century miniatures and sculpture to contemporary Indian art, including 16 works of art from M.F.Husain. Other works are by the leading Modern Indian artists including FN Souza, SH Raza, Akbar Padamsee, and Tyeb Mehta, as well as contemporary artists like Subodh Gupta whose OK Mili is estimated at $250/350,000. The auction is expected to fetch $6/8.8 million.
Indian art at Christie’s, Asian Art Week.
MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN (B. 1915)
Untitled (Sitar Player)
oil on canvas
Painted late 1960s
Christie’s is showcasing major works from the Modern Masters as well as contemporary artists . The auction is on September 15. Here’s a glimpse of some of the offerings. More details at www.christies.com
FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924-2002)
Untitled (Large Head)
oil on canvas
Painted in 1962
Indian art at Saffronart’s Online Auction
At the Saffronart online auction there is a feast of modern and contemporary art including work of modern masters like S.H. Raza, Jehangir Sabavala and Jogen Chowdhury, as well as contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta, N.S. Harsha, Jitish Kallat and G. Ravinder Reddy. Major works being offered include Jehangir Sabavala’s ‘The Wayfarers – II’, S.H. Raza’s ‘Bhartiya Samaroh’, N.S. Harsha’s ‘Conversing Cleansers’, Jogen Chowdhury’s ‘Untitled’, Subodh Gupta’s ‘Untitled’, Ravinder Reddy’s ‘Untitled’ and Manjit Bawa’s ‘Untitled’. The sale is on September 9 online at www.saffronart.com
So if your cash flow is in the right direction, make a bid. And if not, browse the exhibits and just relish the sight of the fabulous works of art. The best things in life, they say, are free.