Tyeb's 'Mahishasura' highlight of Sotheby's Mumbai debut
With an auction titled, "Boundless: Mumbai" - Sotheby's (a leading player in the global art market) will make its debut in Mumbai in December this year. "Durga Mahisasura Mardini," an important canvas by Tyeb Mehta, one of the country's most important modern masters, leads the sale.
Sotheby's in Mumbai indicates the growing importance of the Indian market; Sotheby's has been conducting dedicated sales of modern and contemporary South Asian Art twice a year, once in London and the other in New York.
"The Indian art market has matured, over the years," says Yamini Mehta, International Head of Indian & South Asian Art at Sotheby's New York. She has been part of the auction scene for the past two decades. "We want to enter at this stage and time, as there is an undercurrent of developing taste as a consequence of the India Art Fair, the Kochi Biennale and private museums. The landscape in India now is very different from what it was 20 years ago. It does make sense to be in India now, especially as there is a growing younger audience in the country, and there is a wider client base."
Mehta added that the presence of an international auction house also indicated growing confidence in the Indian market. In a statement, Gaurav Bhatia, managing director, Sotheby's India, said, "In the past five years, the number of Indians across all Sotheby's global sales has almost doubled. Indian clients have bought over $250 million of art over this period. We have an increasingly growing base of collectors; in our most recent sales of Asian art in New York in March, 40 percent of buyers were new to Sotheby's."
Sotheby's opened an office in Mumbai
in 2016. The leading canvas of the Mumbai sale comes from the well-known "Mahisasura" series of works by Mehta (1925-2009), one of which, titled "Mahisasura," became the first Indian canvas to cross the $1 million mark at a Christie's auction in New York in 2005. It wouldn't be a surprise if the "Durga Mahisasura Mardini," painted in 1993, also attains a record price; this one is coming to the auction for the first time. As of now, Sotheby's is keeping its estimate for the canvas confidential.
Yamini Mehta called "Durga Mahisasura Mardini" possibly the most important work in the artist's oeuvre. Yamini was also part of Tyeb Mehta's world record at Christie's when his 'Mahishasura', another stellar work, was sold in New York.
"A symbol of victory of good over evil, this painting celebrates the spirit of India," states Yamini. "It is one of the most provocative portrayals of goddess Durga defeating the mythical buffalo demon, Mahisasura."
Tyeb's 'Mahishasura' series was born after a visit to Shantiniketan at the invitation of friend KG Subramanyan. According to Yamini, this painting celebrates hope and renewal instilled in Indian mythology and reconnects with Indian values. She added that the painting was a prelude to the artist's iconic
"Celebrations" and "Mahisasura" series, making it one of his most significant and rarest works.