How a Danish household constructed a unprecedented assortment of recent Indian artwork

Enclosure by Ram Kumar, from the Hansen collection.

Though critically admired by his contemporaries, Gaitonde’s industrial recognition got here a lot later, virtually solely posthumously. Final month, a portray by him set a world document for Indian artwork by fetching 32 crore at a Pundole’s public sale. An upcoming public sale by Sotheby’s on 29 September estimates certainly one of his work to fetch £1.5-2 million ( 15-20 crore). Other than Gaitonde’s work, the public sale options work by India’s different modernist masters equivalent to Bhupen Khakhar, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar right down to Arpita Singh, Nalini Malani and Mithu Sen.

A bulk of the work was collected by a Danish couple known as Gunnar and Inger Hansen, who lived in India for years and was intently related to Larson and Toubro, one of many main corporates in post-independence India. Mint spoke to Ishrat Kanga, Head of Sotheby’s London Trendy & Modern South Asian Artwork Sale, concerning the work within the upcoming public sale and the completely different collections they’re drawn from. Edited excerpts:

Inform us concerning the Gunnar and Inger Hansen assortment. Who and the way did they construct it? Why is it traditionally necessary for Indian artwork?

The Hansens completely immersed themselves within the Indian artwork world. They grew to become buddies with the good gallerists of their time equivalent to Kali Pundole and Kekoo Gandhy, a lot in order that they had been invited to all of the opening reveals of the exhibitions of artists, and had been capable of purchase this glorious collection of work earlier than many different individuals had been capable of see them. It’s not simply the gallerists that they had been buddies with – they met the artists too on the personal views, notably Ram Kumar, whose portray within the sale is illustrated within the catalogue with a letter from the artist.

The household personal an array of pamphlets from gallery reveals which Gunnar and Inger attended, however by no means ended up shopping for any work from – exhibiting that they had been actively studying about and discovering artists on a regular basis, however that they had been additionally selective, and thoroughly thought of which artwork to purchase earlier than making any purchases. It was a set which they very a lot constructed collectively for his or her household residence, and with one another’s tastes in thoughts, however some works had been their private favourites. Gunnar for instance particularly liked the works of Nareen Nath, and the flower work by B. Prabha carry Inger’s title on the receipt.

Enclosure by Ram Kumar, from the Hansen collection.

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Enclosure by Ram Kumar, from the Hansen assortment.

One other secret to their success was their forward-looking imaginative and prescient – the artwork they had been shopping for was, on the time, not but within the mainstream in India. Even the likes of Ram Kumar and V.S. Gaitonde had been nonetheless very a lot on the ascendency on the time the Hansens had been shopping for. They actually adopted their coronary heart. Theirs was a set of largely younger, promising Indian modernist painters which they needed to hold of their residence after all, to reside with, but in addition to assist this rising technology. It’s a actual pleasure, now round half a century later to peel again the lid, and rediscover this artwork – all of it unpublished – with equally identical contemporary eyes that Gunnar and Inger collected with a few years in the past.

What are the highlights of the upcoming public sale aside from the Gunnar and Inger Hansen assortment?

We’re fortunate to once more offer a shocking portray from the property of Bhupen Khakhar. This work, which reveals certainly one of his dearest buddies standing in entrance of an imagined Backyard of Eden in entrance of Delhi’s Pink Palace, hung in delight of place within the artist’s drawing room for the remainder of his life. It’s a actual privilege to have the ability to carry it to the marketplace for the very first time.

'Portrait of Shri Shankerbhai V. Patel Near Red Fort' by Bhupen Khakhar,

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‘Portrait of Shri Shankerbhai V. Patel Close to Pink Fort’ by Bhupen Khakhar,

Alongside the Gaitonde from the Hansen assortment, we’re providing a second necessary work by the artist from the gathering of George Butcher, a outstanding British artwork critic for The Guardian and early supporter of the South Asian fashionable artwork scene. He spent two years in India, additionally befriending many artists, gallerists and critics, in a lot the identical approach the Hansens did. He was additionally one of many first writers to say the distinctive and noteworthy contribution of South Asian artists to a worldwide type of modernism. Just like the Hansen assortment, this portray has excellent provenance.

Untitled by VS Gaitonde, 1954.

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Untitled by VS Gaitonde, 1954.

In the end although, this sale has one thing for everybody. There are round 100 tons, estimates starting from below £1,000 to over £1,000,000 by the main modernists, rarer and lesser identified artists which were underrepresented previously, in addition to main modern artists equivalent to Raqib Shaw, Nalini Malani, Arpita Singh and Mithu Sen.

2020 marks the 25th 12 months of the South Asian artwork auctions for Sotheby’s. What sort of tendencies have you ever seen over time? What have been your learnings? The place does the market augur for the longer term?

When Sotheby’s held its first sale devoted to South Asian artwork again in 1995 at Sotheby’s New York, M.F. Husain himself was sitting within the entrance row of the public sale room to see certainly one of his work set a brand new world document for his work at just below $50,000 (round 3.6 crores now). The world has come thus far since then. The brand new world document set for any Indian art work at public sale by a Gaitonde earlier this month is a superb second for your complete market.

Nonetheless, one of the crucial optimistic tendencies I’ve witnessed lately is the transfer for collectors to look past The Progressive Artists’ Group and to embrace new names. One small instance of that is the eager reception we’ve thus far obtained for the lesser-known artists within the Hansen assortment. These are artists who’ve by no means been provided at public sale at Sotheby’s earlier than, however who’re producing loads of curiosity forward of the sale – Nareen Nath, Triloke Kaul, Homi B. Patel and S.R. Bhusan. They’ve the whole lot a collector seems to be for when shopping for artwork – fabulous provenance, a fantastic vibrant aesthetic, and enticing estimates.

Sooner or later, I hope that the worldwide profile of South Asian Artwork continues to develop because it has been lately, and that the worldwide trade of concepts and dialogue fostered by gallerists, artwork gala’s, museums and public sale homes sees extra artists from the area be given a global platform. Final 12 months at Sotheby’s, we set a brand new document value of $3.2 million for Bhupen Khakhar’s Two Males in Benares, which has since made its approach on mortgage to the Artwork Institute of Chicago (AIC) .

In 2019, we additionally achieved our highest annual whole for Trendy & Modern Artwork for 5 years and our highest ranges of participation for a decade. Our most up-to-date sale—held in New York in March 2020 simply because the world was shutting down for coronavirus—noticed over 90% of tons bought and our highest total whole within the metropolis for 3 years, in opposition to all the chances. So, though 2020 isn’t the 12 months that anybody anticipated it might be, we’re going into this subsequent public sale from a really optimistic place.

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